Good & Plenty

when the Cowboys did not have a sack to speak of in their first two games while splitting those. But they have 15 sacks over the past four games, a pace that would put you at 60 for a 16-game season. Or what was being said of DeMarcus Ware having no sacks in the first four, but now 13 in the past 13. And same with Anthony Spencer, no sacks in the first 10 games but now seven in the past seven.

And not to overload you with numbers, but stay with me for three more categories: Third down conversions, field position and rushing yards.

Offensively in the past four games, the Cowboys have converted 50.8 percent of their third-down opportunities and 47.5 percent over the past six. Defensively, opponents have converted just 18.5 percent of their third downs in the past four games.

Field position is always important this time of year, and the Cowboys have been pretty stingy. In the past four games, opponents have started no further than the 20 yard line in 30 of 46 total possessions, and the two best starting spots have been the Cowboys 36 after a kickoff return at New Orleans and the Cowboys 47 Saturday night after Mike Jenkins fumbled away his interception.

Man, a lot of that has to do with David Buehler's kickoffs, 32 of those 83 touchbacks over 17 games. Then there is Mat McBriar's punting, especially in the past five games, ever since the Giants returned that one 79 yards for a touchdown. He has averaged 45.4 yards a punt, and has nailed a 39.8 net average, with 11 of his 23 punts downed inside the 20 and three going for touchbacks. That is stout.

And lastly, the Cowboys' consistent ability to run the ball over the past five games, averaging 147.6 yards a game and 4.6 a carry. Most importantly, though has been Felix Jones breaking out over the past five games, gaining 406 yards on 65 carries, which averages out to 6.2 a carry and factors out to a 1,300-yard season. Not bad, especially when you factor in his 49-yard and 73-yard touchdown runs in the two games against the Eagles.

That's why you should be feeling plenty good about these Dallas Cowboys, right now a well-rounded team.

"We have such a good feeling about this team, I'm in the moment with them," said head coach Wade Phillips, sort of deflecting a question concerning how it feels heading into the next round of the playoffs after a first-round victory. "We're playing well. The games we've won it's not one side carrying the other side, you know. A lot of times you'll have teams, one side will play well and overcome a deficiency on the other side, and that hasn't been the way with this team. Our wins, we've played strong defensively, we've played strong offensively, we've played strong special teams.

"We play real good in all those areas, and especially the last part of the season all at once. So, I feel good about that."

Sure he does, and so should you.

So smile, and don't let anxiety grow just because someone is sure to tell you this week the Cowboys have lost the last three times they've played at Minnesota and five of the past six times they have played the Vikings, period. This is the here and now, so, so many of these evil perceptions already having melted away.

And heck, what's to worry? Technically, the Cowboys have never played at the stadium known as Mall of America Field.

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