Many are wondering if the Colts will be a trap game for the Cowboys, but Dak Prescott guarantees it is anything but - considering how important each win is in the NFC East
FRISCO, TX - Don't count on Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys walking into any contest with the concern of it being a possible trap game, and mostly because they can't afford to. So as the Indianapolis Colts pack up their 4-7-1 record in their carry-on luggage to head to North Texas for a primetime matchup on Sunday, it's paramount the Cowboys establish themselves early and often.
That includes, primarily, cleaning up penalties and miscues.
After all, it's the same team that - despite being 8-3 on the season and chock full of Super Bowl potential - struggled to get going against the Detroit Lions in Week 7, suffered a collapse against the disjointed Green Bay Packers in Week 10 and saw self-inflicted wounds nearly push the injury-ravaged New York Giants to an upset on Thanksgiving Day.
"We're not gonna get caught up in records or thinking we can just walk out there and beat these guys," said Prescott at the conclusion of practice on Thursday. "We've got to continue preparing and give them respect, but know we are - in the same sense."
It's an unusual year in that the NFC is wide open but, more importantly, the NFC East has become the best division in all of football and, as such, the Cowboys record of 8-3 is only good enough for second place behind the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1).
The latter includes a win over the Cowboys in Week 6, one fueled by a three-interception day by backup quarterback Cooper Rush and 10 penalties on the evening. And the last thing they need is the Colts doing to Dallas what was nearly done to Philadelphia by Indy a few weeks ago.
Every single week matters for Dallas, period.
"That's [our] mindset," Prescott said. "We're taking it one day at a time, and one game at a time. We know how good we can be, but the last thing we [need to do] is try to overlook somebody or to jump to the playoffs, or jump to playing the Eagles - which is a big game. Focus on the task at-hand.
"Respect every team or you'll be very upset with yourself. These guys know how important it is to win every game. Coach [McCarthy] does a great job of keeping that in his messaging, and it stays in the forefront of our mind."
The two-time Pro Bowler had nothing but high praise for a Colts defense that, even without Shaquille Leonard, has proven itself dangerous thanks to a defensive line full of gunpowder and a secondary patrolled by Stephon Gilmore.
So, trap game? Not for the Cowboys.
They don't have the luxury, especially for a team still looking to make its first playoff run in more than two and a half decades - also understanding what they do in December will help determine what does or does not happen in January and beyond - still trying to chase down the Eagles to potentially serve as the first repeat NFC East champ since the (guess who?) Eagles did it nearly 20 years ago.
Be where your feet are, or be buried where you stand.