Going into every season as a head coach in the National Football League, 10 was the golden number of wins for me. I always felt that if I could get to 10 wins, my team would be in the playoff hunt with a chance to win the division. That meant that by November, my team really needed to have four victories.
But the biggest key was what direction the football team was heading. It's no good if you're 7-3 and have hit your peak in November. You want to have an ascending football team as the season progresses, and especially heading into the playoffs. And in the playoffs? You need a hot quarterback and a defense that can take the ball away.
The NFL is a week-to-week league and things can change in a hurry. But factoring in second-half schedules, the health of the team and whether it is ascending or descending, let's look at five teams and determine whether they are pretenders or contenders going forward.
Sitting at 3-4 in the NFC East, the Cowboys are having another disappointing season. When you look at this team on paper, it looks like a contender. The Cowboys have big-play weapons on offense, new standout corners on defense (Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr) and veteran quarterback Tony Romo. And they can put up big numbers. But the biggest number of all is wins, and this team just doesn't make enough plays consistently in the fourth quarter to win games.