By focusing on themselves.
The Cowboys (9-3), riding a three-game winning streak and winners of five of their last six, are facing a Texans team (1-10-1) that has lost seven straight games.
So coach Mike McCarthy showed them a clip of Earvin “Magic’’ Johnson competing against Michael Jordan during a Dream Team practice in 1992 at a team meeting on Thursday.
“The message was just let’s get out there and compete against each other and challenge each other,” McCarthy said. “The best challenges, some of the best competition I’ve ever been a part of, is on the practice field. Just keeping the competition and getting better each day and obviously keeping focused on beating the Houston Texans.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott said the message was well received in the Cowboys locker room.
“Yeah the video was when Michael took over pretty much when Magic had to admit and give the reins there was a new man in the NBA. That’s he’s taking over, Magic had to give it to MJ,” Prescott said. “It was more of that but it was just kinda the back and forth of the competition within of just how good our defense is how good our offense is, obviously special teams as well and just being able to have that competition amongst ourselves and continuing to elevate each other. The whole iron sharpens iron message for the most part, it was very well received. Yeah, I loved the clip and I’ve seen it a couple of times.”
So who has the edge?
Cowboys defense vs. Texans offense
This is lopsided as it gets. The Texans have the worst offense in the NFL and they making another quarterback change coming into the game, returning Davis Mills to the starting line up in place of Kyle Allen, who replaced him two weeks ago. The Texans are 31st in scoring, 29th in rushing and 27th in passing. And they are 29th in turnover margin. They are simply dead meat for a Cowboys defense that ranks fifth overall and has the best pass rush in the NFL.
Cowboys offense vs. Texans defense
Sadly for spectators on Sunday, the disparity between the Cowboys offense and the Texans defense is just as stark. The Texans are 28th overall but last against the run, allowing 169.1 yards per game on the ground. The Cowboys attack, which is first in the league in points and second in yards since Dak Prescott returned six weeks ago, is founded on a run game, led by the tandem of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. The Cowboys are coming off a season-high 220 yards on the ground in a 54-19 drubbing of the Colts last Sunday.
The Texans have a solid kicker and punter. Ka’imi Fairbairn has made 21 of 23 kicks in 2022. Cameron Johnston is averaging 49 yards per punt and has downed 26 inside the 20. But the Taxans rank among the worst in punt return yardage (25th) and kick return yardage (31st). They gave up a punt return for a touchdown against the Browns last week. This could be the week that dangerous Cowboys returner KaVontae Turpin takes one to the house.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is 11-5 head-to-head in career vs. Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith, including the playoffs. That’s McCarthy’s most wins vs any opposing coach. They primarily coached against each other when McCarthy coached the Green Bay Packers and Smith coached the Chicago Bears. They last faced each other in 2014 when Smith was coaching the Tampa Buccaneers and lost 20-3 to the Packers.
The sports books currently have the Cowboys pegged as 17-point favorites. That’s the biggest point spread in the league so far this year.
Prediction: Cowboys 35, Texans 10