One hallmark of Jerry Jones' reign as the owner of the Cowboys has been his flights of rhetorical fancy that border on or cross right into straight out delusion.
Despite that history, Double J is seeing things quite lucidly in the wake of Sunday's dominating performance. The 44-7 win over the Bills was the best Cowboys performance of the season, but it didn't do anything to change the overall state of the affairs in the NFC. If Dallas is going to make the playoffs, they are going to have to do it by going through the front door.
"It's very early and I wouldn't dare to venture what can happen," Jones said. "I will say this. We're going to need to win the division, I think, to get in the playoffs."
Jones is absolutely correct. The Lions and Bears are both 6-3 and in Wild Card position right now. Chicago has been playing as well as anyone in the league of late and their schedule is pretty easy the rest of the way. The Lions have the Packers twice and a tougher road, but they also have a tiebreak edge on the Cowboys by virtue of their monumental comeback win last month.
The Falcons are the only other non-division winner with a winning record. They are 5-4 and have a pretty easy slate the rest of the way, although it isn't much easier than the Cowboys' own schedule. You can't count on other teams making things happen for you, though, and that's why the Cowboys need to take care of business.
They got some help on that front from the Giants, who lost in San Francisco and are just one game up on the Cowboys in the NFC East right now. Their next three games -- vs. Philly, at New Orleans, vs. Green Bay -- are far more difficult than the next three with the Cowboys and then the teams will meet twice in the last four weeks.
In other words, the Cowboys control their own destiny but they need to keep winning to keep that control. That's why it is crucial that Jones continue to send the message that there's only one way into the playoffs this season. Things are heading in the right direction in Dallas right now, so the last thing you want to do is take your foot off the pedal by aiming for anything less than the best spot available to them.
There have been times in the past where Jones set up unrealistic expectations for his team. That's not the case here. The Cowboys have a real chance to win the division and that should be their only goal the rest of the way.