SAN ANTONIO -- This ledge is scary, and the fall to the bottom is treacherous, but try to take a step out. A little bit further. One more step.
It's not so bad.
The Dallas Cowboys are going to make the playoffs.
Not even Captain Optimism himself is going to go there yet.
"I wouldn't, based upon the majority of the players on this team from what we did last year," Jerry Jones said after Friday's practice. "But I know what we thought last year. Really, I have a good feeling personnel-wise. I do think we are going to improve from this time where we were last year personnel-wise."
Any trepidation is earned. You have believed before, and every time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable, that faith has normally been rewarded with a giant drop into a stinking pile of 6-10.
The easy road is to be cynical and say what everybody else is saying: This team's best shot is 8-8. That's too easy.
The banner outside the Alamodome that reads "The Road to the Super Bowl Starts Here" may be a bit too optimistic even for Jerry, but this team, in this league, can make the postseason.
This does not mean you should make plane reservations to Indianapolis and buy your Super Bowl tickets.
The playoffs are going to be a reality for this team because of this coach, and this team, and this league.
"I know we have a long way to go. We set our goals, and it's to make a deep run," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "Jason [Garrett] has had a good message of we can't look at it like that coming off the way we finished. We feel like we have a little bit more confidence."
Before you dismiss this prediction as a result of drinking the River Walk water, consider the case of the Cowboys making the playoffs in 2012.
No. 1. This is the NFL where mediocrity is often rewarded with a playoff check.
Remember, 8-8 can make the postseason. Last year's playoffs included a 7-9 Seahawks team that actually won a playoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints. Any total from seven to nine wins gives you a shot.
These Cowboys can do that.
No. 2. The starting QB is good, and he is healthy.
Where you have Tony Romo on your good scale doesn't matter. Toss last season's injury year out, and Romo has been a playoff QB in three of the four seasons he's been a starter.
What both he and the Cowboys have accomplished in the playoffs is something else entirely.
Romo has a few things to prove this season, but, if he is right, the entire team is better across the board.
An able and healthy quarterback makes his line better, his running backs better, even his defense better. If Romo is upright for at least 13 starts, the Cowboys' chances of being in the playoffs increase tenfold.
If Jon Kitna starts more than two games, this playoff prediction is null and void.
No. 3. The Cowboys are going to be in every game.
When Jason Garrett replaced Uncle Wade as head coach the team was 1-7 and had been either blown out, or was chasing games before they started.
Under Red, the Cowboys finished 5-3 and were in every single game they played. There were no blowouts. Their last five games were decided by a total of 14 points.
Figure if the Cowboys are above .500 in their painfully close games they're going to finish with a winning record.
No. 4. The schedule produced from last season's 6-10 Wade wreck.
A game against the Rams, dude. Home games against the Seahawks, Bills, Lions and Dolphins, plus a road game in Arizona. And two games against the Redskins.
Provided they find a field goal kicker who can make kicks, the Cowboys can find nine to 10 wins on this schedule.
When the Cowboys have made the playoffs of late, which isn't much, they usually have needed a bad schedule to do it. Of their last four playoff appearances, three came on the backs of non-playoff seasons.
No. 5. This team is not that bad.
As much as this team is killed for being over-hyped, there is genuine talent here.
And for the first time in years, there is a genuine structure that all good teams require.
An NFL team asked to run itself, to be relied on to behave and act professionally, can't be trusted. These guys always need structure, and authority. They have that now.
"We're one of the most talented teams in the league. Every year we should be a playoff team. This is something we're going to work on and I think we can do that," Cowboys safety Gerald Sensabaugh said.
Not sure I totally agree with all of that, but we are not taking about the Oakland Raiders here.
And we're not talking about the Steelers, Patriots, Colts, Ravens or Eagles, either.
What we have here in San Antonio is a pretty good team with holes, and talent.
What we have here is a playoff team.
So have a little faith. Walk onto the ledge. It's not so bad.
Follow Mac Engel on Twitter @MacEngelProf
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760