another could be tied for first (Baltimore) or the other will be hanging a half-game out of first (Washington).
Good teams are capable of making one of these runs but the operative word here is good. The 1991 Cowboys, before they were the Cowboys again, stood 6-5 going into Washington that season, coming off consecutive losses and three in four games and having to face an undefeated Redskins. Well, the Cowboys beat the Redskins, their backup quarterback doing the trick (Steve Beuerlein) and ended up running the table that season, taking five consecutive wins into the playoffs.
Two season later, the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys stood 7-4 following a two-game losing streak, and basically Jimmy Johnson told them they had to run the table - win five straight - just to clinch the NFC East title. With each win he would turn the screws on his club even tighter, having gone to a full whip.
They indeed won five straight, but remember the fifth came that memorable early evening at Giants Stadium on a field goal in overtime after coming from behind just to tie the game. That close.
And if you remember, the same thing happened to San Diego last year coming off a 14-2 season in 2006. The Chargers stood 5-5 at the 10-game mark, having lost two of their past three. But they rode a regular-season ending six-game winning streak right into the AFC title game.
Can be done.
But not only do you have to have the stomach for the fight, you also have to be a good team. We are about to find out if the Cowboys have one and are the other, and that doesn't mean good offense or good defense, that means everything, right down to the coaching staff. If you remember a few weeks ago, I asked the delicate question about which was the blue moon, last year's 13-3 season that arose out of the blue of 9-7 and 10-6 seasons or losing, at the time, two of their past three games.
Well, we are about to find out, injuries permitting. Suddenly this biggie-sized season has been down-sized. Now the Cowboys mantra must be playoffs or bust. And maybe as it always should have been, but got this sneaky suspicion it really hasn't, how about just win No. 6 then worry about No. 7 the next week. Because my math tells me you can't get to 10 wins without six and seven first.
Jones knows that, too.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're just playing to win games right now," he said as the cleanup crew started sweeping through the locker room. "We know where we are, and it's not where we planned to be at all by this point in the season. It's very disappointing. We just don't look anything like we had hoped to look.
"But I'm buying into us being a team that can be a lot better. Romo will make a big difference."
He hopes that investment pans out better than the others have so far.