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Bigger tests await the surging Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have done what they didn’t do last season — Win more than one game with a quarterback other than Tony Romo. Which leads to the next question: Can they continue to win against some of the best teams in the league?

Cowboys fans are downright giddy about their team’s 3-1 record, but the four games were against teams with a combined 6-11 record. None of the four have a winning record.

The Cowboys’ next two opponents — Cincinnati and Green Bay — are perennial playoff teams. The Packers have seven consecutive postseason appearances and the Bengals five.

They provide a measuring stick for the Cowboys before a bye week and Tony Romo’s expected return to the lineup.

“Yeah, we know we’ve got a pretty good stretch coming up starting with [today] and the Bengals,” Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott said. “They’re a good team and they’ve got a pretty good defense. But we’re confident in our offense, and this team and the direction we’re headed.”

The Cowboys have bought into Jason Garrett’s one-game-at-a-time mantra, not wanting to look past the Bengals. It’s probably a good philosophy since the Bengals are a big enough challenge with a defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher the past 15 games and an offense that features wide receiver A.J. Green.

“I do think this team does a great job taking it week by week,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “Really in this league, as coach [Jason] Garrett always says, ‘The storybook is written every Monday.’ You can’t ever get ahead of yourself, and certainly that’s the case when you’ve won three in a row.

“Yeah, these guys are a chippy bunch. They’ve had a bunch of success. They’ve played in the playoffs. They’re a veteran group that’s played well for a number of years. Well coached team. This is a big test for us, especially offensively because they’re a really good defense, and they’ve been that way for quite some time.”

The Cowboys, who were only 4-12 last season, have found the chemistry they had in their locker room in 2014 when they went 12-4. They believe they can win no matter the opponent.

“The chemistry is great right now, and I don’t say that just because we won three games here,” Witten said. “I just think it’s a great group of guys that love being around each other. When you go through a journey like this, I think you become hardened from your experiences.”

The Cowboys have lost seven starters for a combined 18 games this season. Romo and Dez Bryant won’t play again this week.

But Prescott has played like a veteran a season after three backup quarterbacks combined to go 1-11 in Romo’s absence.

Injuries? What injuries?

“That’s football,” Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It’s a physical sport. It’s grimy. It’s gritty. People are going to get hurt. That’s just part of the sport. We have trust in each other. Everyone comes to work every day. So it’s not like we expect there to be a falloff when a backup is playing.”

Cowboys vs. Bengals

3:25 p.m. Sunday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington


Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM; KMVK/107.5 FM (Spanish)

Line: Bengals by 1  1/2

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