Perhaps the Cowboys learned something new last Sunday in front of a nationally televised audience: the more they win, the harder it gets to keep this current momentum going.
The team rallied from its largest second-half deficit of the season to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in overtime, 29-23, for a sixth straight victory and stayed in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
What will it take to get past the Cleveland Browns and extend the winning streak to seven games? The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their gut feelings for the Sunday's matchup in Cleveland.
Bryan Broaddus: The Cleveland Browns have the ability to move the ball on offense but they're bad on defense. I worry about the Cowboys' secondary situation with Morris Claiborne and Barry Church injured. Listening to Jason Garrett talk about Terrelle Pryor I get the feeling that he is concerned as well. Where the Browns could potentially hurt the Cowboys is throwing the ball to Pryor, Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins. If Josh McCown were at quarterback, I would be especially worried but Cody Kessler gets the nod instead. My gut feeling is that this is an ugly game for both offenses and low scoring, but the Cowboys come away with a 20-16 victory and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Rob Phillips: The Browns had a 20-7 lead at halftime last Sunday against the New York Jets before ultimately losing 31-28. A few days ago they traded for Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins. This team hasn't given up at 0-8; in fact, Collins on paper makes them a better team than a week ago. The Cowboys will have to play a much cleaner game in all three phases if they want to keep this winning streak going. Dak Prescott said he played "sloppy" at times against the Eagles, primarily with regard to his footwork. But one thing the Cowboys' coaches have noticed about the rookie quarterback is he doesn't make the same mistake twice. It's a credit to his preparation, and I expect him to be more efficient Sunday. The Cowboys' injury-depleted secondary will be challenged by Corey Coleman if indeed he's back in the Browns' lineup, but -- and I know I sound like a broken record -- I'm sticking with the Cowboys until someone stops them from controlling the line of scrimmage in the running game. Here are their rushing totals in the last five games: 199, 194, 180, 191, 187. I think that'll be the difference in a competitive game Sunday.
Nick Eatman:I've heard all week about "trap game" and "any given Sunday" and how many times the Browns have kept things close. That's cool. I don't see any of that happening this week. The Cowboys obviously can't sleepwalk in Cleveland and expect to win. But Jason Garrett doesn't let his teams do that. Say what you want about him as a coach, or game-manager or whatever. But when it comes to getting his teams ready to play, Garrett usually has no issues with that. I can't see the Browns stopping the Cowboys' running game at all. I'm predicting Ezekiel Elliott to reach 1,000 yards for the season. To do that, he'll need to get 201 yards, but it's possible. The kid from Ohio State is going to run wild back in his home state. I see a touchdown by Terrance Williams and an interception from Sean Lee. Look for a two-sack game by Benson Mayowa. Overall, I expect the Browns to come out strong early on, prompting a few dozen "I told you so" tweets from fans. Then the Cowboys will crank it up, wear down the Browns and cruise to a win, 38-17.
David Helman: The biggest compliment I can give Jason Garrett as a coach is that his teams consistently give the same level of effort. Sure, it's not always pretty, as we saw last week against Philadelphia, or last month against San Francisco. But how often do we see his teams come out completely flat and unprepared? Almost never. Even in 2015, when this team put up an abysmal 4-12 record, the Cowboys still played tough to the final whistle. Six of their losses last season were by seven points or less. So the point I'm trying to make is that I don't expect this team to let off the pedal just because the Browns are bad. Garrett's day-at-a-time philosophy is too strong in this building to allow for it. And if the Cowboys are focused and firing on all cylinders, then they shouldn't have a problem winning this game. Cleveland has some big-play potential on its offense, to be fair. But I just don't see how the Browns' defense contends with Ezekiel Elliott and this offensive line for 60 minutes. The Browns are allowing 144 rushing yards per game this season – and even if they sell out to stop the run, will they be able to prevent Dak Prescott from consistently finding the open man? I just don't see it. I don't think this is going to be a laugher from the get-go, because it's still the NFL. But after a close first half, I think the Cowboys will gradually wear down the opposition. Elliott will run for 133, and Alfred Morris will throw in another 60. The Dallas defense will throw in a touchdown on rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, and the Cowboys will pull away for the win – something like 34-17.