But they are not in awe of them.
Actually they're quite excited about the opportunity to play the Patriots and possibly make a statement about themselves, and give them some momentum for the rest of the season.
"A win would be big," safety Abe Elam said. "They have been playing well. We have been trying to improve. It will put us where we want to be."
Where the Cowboys want to be is back in the thick of things as a playoff contender and putting the images of last year's 6-10 season behind them.
"Because of last year people wonder if we are a fluke team and if we can get the job done," linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "We have been trying to prove people wrong and get that credibility back. This is a game you can get it back quick."
The Cowboys are confident because they have an ace in the hole in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who feels good about slowing down the Patriots offense because of the success he had last year in Cleveland.
The Patriots have had 13 straight games in which they have scored 30 or more points. But before the streak started, New England absorbed a 34-14 loss to the Browns, whose defense was coordinated by Ryan.
The Cowboys believe they have the secret to locking up the Patriots again partly because Ryan is feeling confident he has a better collection of players on defense in Dallas than he had in Cleveland.
"He's psyched," said safety Abe Elam, who played for the Browns last season. "I know I am as well. I look forward to the challenge. Coming in, everyone is building them up to be the greatest team out there. As a competitor, that is what you look forward to.
|DeMarcus Ware Dallas Cowboys 9/11/11 (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)|
The Cowboys studied the tape from the Cleveland game last year and will use that as a guide. Of course, they will change some things up as well to give a diffefent look.
"Against Brady, you have to keep his mind going all the way down to down to when the clock strikes zero," Ware said. "That's what we're going to try to do. They moved around a lot. They weren't just sitting ducks and let Brady sit back there and pick them off the whole time."
Defensive end Kenyon Coleman came to Dallas after being in Cleveland last year and he recalled a great game plan and great execution.
"We had them out there thinking," Coleman said. "We brought our 'A' game."
Coleman said Ryan has even more tricks up his sleeve for Sunday.
"Pretty much the kitchen sink, to put it lightly," Coleman said of the Cowboys' game plan.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Dallas leads series, 7-3. The Patriots have won the last three meetings, including the last one in 2007, 48-27.