IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The more Wade Phillips sees from the Dallas Cowboys, the more he has to like.

The Cowboys' starters have soundly outplayed their foes' first-teamers in both preseason games. While that's not really a big deal this time of year, the way they've improved from week to week is worth noting.

In a 31-20 win over the Denver Broncos last night, the Cowboys showed progress in two key areas -- upping the pressure by the defensive front and completing passes thrown downfield. As a result, Dallas scored touchdowns instead of field goals when breaking the 20-yard line on offense, and gave up field goals instead of touchdowns when opponents got inside the Cowboys' 20.

Neither of which guarantees success in the regular season. But it sure beats the alternative, especially with all the things that could go wrong with a new coaching staff taking over a playoff team and reshaping things on both sides of the ball.

The Cowboys play next on Saturday against Houston, a game that's likely to be their dress rehearsal for the regular season.