2012 NFC East Preview: Dallas Cowboys

Jun 12, 2012; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters. Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Every season, the Dallas Cowboys seem to be the media's favorite to win the NFC East, and eventually the Super Bowl. Every season, they struggle to even get to the playoffs.

Expect the Cowboys to again be among the favorites going into training camp.

The Cowboys in 2011, like most years, started the season hot, dropped a few games, got hot again, and then imploded to miss the playoffs. When they went on a four-game winning streak, the New York Giants began a four-game losing streak. New York, however, was ultimately able to pull of a division victory defeating the Cowboys in Week 17. The Cowboys finished the season 8-8, third place in the NFC East.

According to SI.com, Cowboys GM Jerry Jones believes the "window might be closing on the Cowboys' aging core," even though they'll likely be the favorites to win the NFC East. Here is what they've done during the offseason:

Gains: CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, LB Dan Connor, DE Tyron Crawford, G Nat Livings, QB Kyle Orton, S Brodney Pool, FB Lawrence Vickers

Losses: TE Martellus Bennett, S Abram Elam, CB Terrence Newman, WR Laurent Robinson

The Cowboys made some additions to help improve their defense. They traded up in the draft to grab Claiborne from LSU with the sixth pick overall. Claiborne was one of the top backs in the draft and he will be joining a loaded defensive back crowd alongside Carr.

Dallas signed Carr to a five-year contract worth $50.1 million ($26.5 guaranteed) after he played his first four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cowboys released Newman, which would leave the starting cornerback positions to likely Carr and Claiborne. This will give Dallas a more explosive defensive backfield making it more difficult for opposing quarterbacks to throw to their receivers. The NFL knows what Carr is capable of, but Claiborne's talents will be tested for the first time against NFC East receivers like the New York Giants' Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, and the Philadelphia Eagles' DeSean Jackson.

The Cowboys went out of their way to improve their defense greatly, but what about their offense? Tony Romo is, of course, the guy at quarterback. They lost Robinson at wide receiver, but still have players like Miles Austin and Dez Bryant to throw to. If they stay healthy, the Cowboys' wide receiver position should be fine.

The offensive line, however, still seems rather weak. The 36 sacks Romo took in 2011 says enough. Dallas signed Livings from the Cincinnati Bengals to handle one guard spot and the team can use Tyron Smith at left tackle. If they've improved, we'll believe it when we see it.

Overall, when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, they always have the potential and the talent to win. It's one of the reasons why they are picked as the favorites all the time. If they stay focused and consistent they have a shot at winning the division. They have talent left over from last year, and brought in even more this year. If they do this, they will be a serious contender in 2012.

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