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Getting Turned Upside Down

Super Bowls. That's what I came here to do. I can go anywhere and be a sixth seed." 

But for this team, which starts four rookies and four other first-time starters, that would be progress, and right now, with four games to play, the Cowboys are holding down the sixth seed, a half-game up on Minnesota (7-5) and 1½ games up on Atlanta (7-5) when it comes the conference-record tiebreaker since the three teams will not all play each other this season. And, not only are the Cowboys just one game behind the Giants for first in the NFC East, they are only one game behind Tampa Bay (8-4) for the top wild-card berth. 

Tampa Bay going to win out? The Bucs must play at Carolina and New England the next two weeks, before finishing at home against Atlanta and New Orleans. Atlanta going to win out? The Falcons still must play New Orleans, at Chicago and Tampa Bay and home against Carolina. And Minnesota, riding a five-game winning streak? The Vikes going to win nine straight with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Chicago left? 

Guess the Cowboys at least have a cheek on that wild-card driver's seat, huh? 

Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, quite concerned, as he should be, over his team's blocking on offense, remains steadfastly pragmatic about this race. 

"There are still four games to go, and if you win all four or lost all four, it would be pretty conclusive," Parcells said, meaning anything in between is up for further interpretation. "We got a tough road, though, and we have to play better than we did on offense." 

Can they? Well, they have, right? They did take Seattle, roundly considered the best team in the NFC, down to the last second? They did beat the Giants once, and have beaten San Diego (8-4). They did take Denver to overtime. 

But those are all bygones, now. They have reduced 2005 to a four-game season. Post a winning record, and they're in the playoffs, maybe even first in the division. Go .500 over the final four, and that might earn a wild-card berth. Might. Anything less would be elimination. 

So here the Cowboys are, another big game on the horizon, but this one Sunday against the Chiefs having to do more with surviving than thriving. 

"We're still fine," Keyshawn said, "but at some point (if we don't start winning) we'll be in a bad position." 

Amazing isn't it, how quickly positions can change. One minute you're kicking for near NFC supremacy. Sixty-nine minutes of football later you're just getting kicked.   


!   When it comes to wild-card berths, the Cowboys need the current division leaders not named Giants - Chicago, Carolina and Seattle - to win their games against the likes of Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Minnesota. And as far as the Giants are concerned, the Cowboys would be better off if Washington or Philly beats the Giants since their NFC East record (3-1) is a half-game better than that of the Cowboys (3-2). 
!   The Cowboys have somehow managed to get by without Anthony Henry these past four games, the defense giving up only six touchdowns. But they cannot get by without Aaron Glenn, who is becoming the next Defensive MVP. Glenn injured his ankle making that diving interception and return to the Giants 7, and was spotted in a walking boot going for an MRI. Parcells, of course, downplayed the situation, saying, "He has a chance to be OK." Not good enough for my liking. 
!   Asked for a big play or three from this offense last week, and all I get is a 12-yard Julius Jones run and a 26-yard Jones reception on a screen pass on the final play of the game. That's it? Expect continued defensive pressure from the Chiefs come Sunday.  
!   When all is said and done about these offensive doldrums the Cowboys have sunk

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