Cowboys Rank No. 16 In First NFL.com Power Ranking Of The Year

The Cowboys significantly upgraded their secondary with Morris Claiborne (24) and Brandon Carr (39).

Is it too early for power rankings? Sure, but so what.

Gil Brandt, longtime Cowboys VP of player personnel and now a senior analyst with NFL.com, has put together NFL.com's first power rankings for the 2012 season. He concedes that it's hard to predict how each team will perform from one year to the next, but that didn't deter him from having a try anyway.

Brandt's ranking doesn't have all that many surprises at the top. The Packers, Patriots and Eagles make up the top three, and last season's Super Bowl winners ranks sixth. All in all, it's the usual names that populate the top ten.

The Cowboys find themselves smack in the middle of the pack at No. 16. Here's what Brandt writes:

The Cowboys helped themselves on defense by signing cornerback Brandon Carr and drafting fellow corner Morris Claiborne. Dallas was decent in 2011, but their time is now. Four key starters -- quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and linebacker DeMarcus Ware -- will be in their 30s when the 2012 season begins. Though they do have some young talent, too, including Tyron Smith, who's moving from right tackle to the blind side in his second NFL season.

Honestly, No. 16 sounds about right for a team that went 8-8 last season, and I'd rather start a long climb to the top of the rankings from No. 16 than be an 8-8 team starting at No. 3, only to watch my team inevitably descend down the rankings.

Sure, on balance I think there's a lot more to be optimistic than pessimistic about, and I think I'd rank the Cowboys ahead of a couple of teams Brandt has ahead of them, but for now I'm easy like Sunday morning about all of this.

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