Cowboys among NFL's elite?

Cowboys among NFL's elite?

Now that the Cowboys are on a roll and back where they wanted to be among the NFL's elite, riding a four-game winning streak and sitting atop the NFC East with a 6-2 record, the key is trying to stay there.

They must avoid getting too cocky about their newfound stature and forgetting the hard work it took to get there.

The Cowboys will be favored in their next three games -- Sunday at Green Bay followed by home games against the Redskins and Raiders.

They have a good chance to head into December with a 9-2 record and really assert themselves as an elite team.

But they know it won't be easy.

The Cowboys are 1-5 all-time at Lambeau Field and they will encounter a wounded and desperate dog in a Packers team that is coming off two straight losses and is in must-win mode to stay afloat in the NFC North.

"We know they are going to give us their best shot," coach Wade Phillips said.

But the key for the Cowboys is not worrying about the Packers but focusing on themselves and staying grounded with the things that got them to where they are. Linebacker Bradie James said the Cowboys need to stay focused on the main thing and that's getting a win by any means necessary.

"I think everybody really understanding and believing in one another definitely helps," James said. "And, with winning, comes that camaraderie, really everybody sticking together. We have gotten out of trying to win glamorous games. Some games are going to be ugly and we don't have time for any moral victories.

"The biggest thing we have to do is get a 'W.' That's the main thing, no matter if it's ugly, pretty, however. If our offense scores 50 points or just scores nine points, that means the other team can only score six. That's been the biggest thing. We know we don't have to make these highlight film type plays to win."

The Cowboys believe they will stay grounded because they have the right mix of players this team. They have good chemistry and there are not a lot of egos. Most importantly, they know how fast things can change.

Not long ago, the Cowboys were 2-2 and seemingly in disarray. People were calling for Phillips' job and nobody was talking about the possibility of them making the playoffs, let alone being in first place in the NFC East.

Since then the Cowboys have won four straight while the Giants, who were atop the NFC East, have lost four straight after opening the season 5-0.

"Really, the season is like a roller-coaster," James said. "On every roller-coaster, you have ups and downs. What this team has to do going into the second half of the season is really create a balance. You're going to have big games and you're going to have big wins. And you might lose a game. But you can't get overly excited when you win. You can't get down in the tank when you lose.

"You've got to maintain some kind of balance. I think the veterans and the leadership on the team, the maturity of the team, allows everybody to just really know what the next step is. We just beat Philly. That was a big game. But just like Wade always says, when you win a big game, the next game is even bigger."

SERIES HISTORY: 23rd regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead the series 12-10. Dallas has won two straight and three of the last four meetings. The Cowboys won the last meeting 27-16 at Green Bay last year. Green Bay won the first six games then Dallas won eight straight from 1991-96. The teams have faced each other six times in the playoffs, with Dallas claiming four wins.

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