Power Rankings: No. 17 Dallas Cowboys

A weekly examination of the Cowboys’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 20 | Last week: 15 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

With their third straight 8-8 finish thanks to their Week 17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys close the regular season at No. 17 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings.

That sounds about right. The Cowboys have been nothing but the middle of the pack for the last few years, and this ranking puts them there.

The Cowboys got as high as No. 10 during the season after their Oct. 20 win at Philadelphia to improve to 4-3. They fell as low as No. 18 twice in Weeks 5 and 16 after losses to the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers, respectively.

Mike Sando was the harshest on the Cowboys, bringing them home at No. 25. Kevin Seifert and Dan Graziano were the kindest, settling them in at No. 15. Ashley Fox had them 16th while John Clayton and Jamison Hensley had them at Nos. 17 and 20, respectively.

In order to separate themselves from the middle of the pack, the Cowboys will have to make changes in 2014, but they will be hamstrung by the salary cap to a degree. They face decisions on players such as DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin. They will also have a quarterback, Tony Romo, coming off back surgery.