If a sportswriter had suggested to Dallas Cowboys fans halfway through this season that their team would be a win way from clinching the NFC East with three games still left on the schedule, that sportswriter might have been laughed right out of his or her job.
When Dallas was 3-5, there was more speculation about whether head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Dak Prescott would be around for another season than about a playoff berth.
But things have changed in Dallas in the last five weeks. A lengthy winning streak will do that for a team.
Since acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper and promoting Marc Colombo to offensive line coach during the bye week, the Cowboys have won five out of six. Specifically, they suffered a 28-14 loss to the Titans in Week 9 and have since reeled off five straight wins.
Now Garrett is talking about the Cowboys winning their division.
"That's the starting point I think for any team in this league, to try and win their division," Garrett said. "We've put ourselves in a position to do that. But you're exactly right. The approach won't change, the focus won't change. We're locked in on having a great Wednesday."
Dallas travels to play Indianapolis on Sunday. A Cowboys win would guarantee they finish ahead of the Eagles and Giants in the NFC East. Dallas has now swept Philadelphia this season and has a tie-breaker over the Eagles. Furthermore, the Redskins are in a downward spiral and unlikely to muster enough wins to catch Dallas, particularly if the Cowboys defeat the Colts.
But even if the Cowboys can't claim a win in Indy, they return home to face 5-8 Tampa Bay in Week 16. All signs point to Dallas being able to wrap up the division before a Week 17 trip to play the Giants in New York.
SERIES HISTORY: 16th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 10-5. The Cowboys have a three-game winning streak in the series with victories in 2014 and 2006 in Dallas and a 38-35 overtime win in Indianapolis in 2010. However, the Colts can cling to their victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, when the Baltimore Colts defeated Dallas, 16-13.