The mood has certainly changed in Baltimore over the past week or so.
After going 42 days without tasting victory, the Ravens notched two wins in five days. As of Sunday night, they found themselves alone atop the AFC North.
But Baltimore knows full well the kind of test coming up next. The Ravens rolled over the winless Cleveland Browns, 28-7, but up next is the hottest, and perhaps best, team in the NFL.
Here come the Dallas Cowboys – in Dallas.
"I think everybody is extremely happy, obviously, we got two wins in a row," cornerback Jimmy Smith told CSNMidAtlantic.com* *after the Browns game. "But we know when you get a victory against a team like the Cowboys, that's a statement win."
The Cowboys are 8-1 after a thrilling comeback 35-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Dallas is riding an eight-game winning streak and has averaged 30 points per game over that stretch.
It's going to be strength versus strength for the two teams, as the Ravens have the league's top-ranked defense and the Cowboys have the NFL's No. 3-ranked offense. Specifically, Baltimore's No. 1-ranked run defense will be tasked with stopping the league's top rusher, rookie Ezekiel Elliott.
"I'm sure everybody's going to count us out that game," Smith said. "They like to run the ball, we like to stop the run. They've got some big-play receivers. We're going to have our hands full, but we go in and get this victory against them, I think that would kind of validate the last two weeks."
As the records stand now, the Ravens have yet to get a victory over a winning team this season. The Ravens have beaten the Bills (4-5), Browns (0-10) twice, Jaguars (2-7) and Steelers (4-5).
The Cowboys opened as seven-point favorites in Las Vegas.
Head Coach John Harbaugh isn't one to build up some games over others, but he said there's definitely some excitement in facing Dallas.
"I think it excites anybody to compete," he said. "Certainly, that particular part of the game [the Cowboys offense versus the Ravens defense], that matchup is going to be huge in the game, it's going to be very important. It might be the most important part of the game."
The Ravens now control their own playoff destiny to the AFC North crown. The Steelers are 1.5 games behind (Baltimore owns the tiebreaker), and the Cincinnati Bengals (4-5-1) are in third place with a game against the New York Giants tonight.
Harbaugh said controlling destiny is* *something he will talk to the team about, and shared some wise words from his father, Jack Harbaugh, who was at the Under Armour Performance Center Monday.
"That's something that's really important to us," John Harbaugh said. "Whether it's in a game or whether it's in the season, you want to get the lead. When you get the lead, you want to keep the lead. To keep the lead, you want to extend the lead. Certainly, that's going to be our objective."