Taking Care Of Big Business

back road games to reach the Super Bowl.

And when it comes to NFC title games (beginning in 1970), the Cowboys have an 8-6 overall record, but check this out: 5-1 playing at Texas Stadium and just 3-5 playing those conference title games on the road.

Yeah, the Cowboys do have some unfinished business.

"I try to reemphasize what our goals are," Phillips said of his message to the team this week. "It's how important the game is to you, each game, so we try to emphasize that. And I think this game is a really big game for us, and I hope they do, too. That's what I'm trying to get over to them.

"We had a real good practice today - thought we were real enthusiastic today; I saw a real up-tempo practice. So I was pleased with that."

That's good. OK, sure, the Cowboys beat the Eagles, 38-17, the first time around, and with seemingly relative ease. But again, it's the Eagles.

Phillips knows that. He even knew Eagles head coach Andy Reid is 12-5 all-time against the Cowboys since taking over in 1999. And depending how you look at it, the Cowboys' earlier victory over the Eagles either interrupted a two-game Eagles winning streak in the series or gave the Cowboys their third victory in the past five games over the Eagles or was just their fourth win over their last 15 games with the Eagles.

Plus, anytime Brian Westbrook is on the other side of the line of scrimmage from you, you should be concerned. Westbrook has rushed for 1,100 yards this year, second in the NFC to only Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson. He leads the Eagles with 74 catches - tied with Terrell Owens for sixth in the NFC - and his 642 receiving yards gives him 1,752 all-purpose yards from the line of scrimmage - first in the entire NFL, 103 yards more than the next guy, LaDainian Tomlinson.

On top of Westbrook, the Eagles are one of five teams ranked among the NFL's top 10 offenses (eighth) and defenses (10th). And again, don't pass them off just because they arrive at Texas Stadium mired in a three-game losing streak. The Eagles have lost those three games by a total of 17 points - and four of their eight losses have been by no more than four points.

So 12-1 and winning the East is not a free pass to Arizona, though my e-mails would suggest otherwise since there seems to be more concern with next year's draft and Terry Glenn's impact for the playoffs and resting players than there is about winning at least one and possibly needing two more victories for their own good.

Now to be fair, the Cowboys have been a pretty good front-running team so far this season. They have listened to Phillips' mantra about "wiping away the last game" and focusing on only the next game. They seem to understand there are goals yet to be achieved.

On the other hand, only nine guys on this team would even know the importance of playing playoff games at home, and only two of those guys have ever experienced that advantage with the Cowboys (Greg Ellis and Flozell Adams in 1998). Even fewer would understand the meaning of a first-round bye.

Sure, winning the East is nice, a step in the right direction. But come Sunday, my advice would be:


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