Has Dallas revived playoff hopes?

Tony Romo has played some tough defenses so far this season. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

When the Dallas Cowboys lost four times in five games, it looked as though their season was over, but they've now won two in a row to get back to .500 at 5-5. At this point, they have a realistic shot at a postseason berth. They'll need some help to get there, but this is a dangerous team, a dark horse in the NFC that looks as though it's about to go on a run. And in the process, they should redeem their unfairly criticized quarterback.

Despite their mediocre win-loss record, the Cowboys have been a strong club over the course of the season, and they sit in 10th place in Football Outsiders' efficiency rankings. Their .500 record says more about Dallas' opponents than it does about the Cowboys themselves. Each of the five teams that has beaten Dallas (the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons) would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, with a combined win-loss record of 36-13. And three of those were close games decided by a single score. Two of the teams Dallas has beaten (the Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) also have winning records. Up to Thanksgiving weekend, the Cowboys have played only three teams with losing records (the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns), and they've beaten them all.

Now, though, things are about to get much easier.