McCarthy imploring Cowboys to ignore massive point spread vs Texans: ‘Don’t take the cheese’

The 9-3 Cowboys just scored the most points in any NFL game this season and are near the top of pretty much every legitimate set of power rankings out there. The 1-10-1 Texans are currently in possession of the top draft slot next spring and haven’t won a game in two months.

It’s no big surprise, then, that Dallas is favored heavily to win when the two teams square off Sunday; some sports books currently have the Cowboys pegged as 17-point favorites. That’s the biggest point spread in the league so far this year.

And Mike McCarthy hopes his players don’t know any of the aforementioned facts.

“Talked a lot of trash about the media today in the team meeting,” the Cowboys coach joked Wednesday at The Star. “‘Don’t listen to them,’ and all those good things. ‘Don’t take the cheese.’ This is a good place. It shows things are very productive with your football team when you have to address this type of deal.”

McCarthy and the Dallas coaching staff are walking a fine line this week, trying to maintain the edge that has the team outscoring opponents 122-42 over their past three outings, while also giving players a bit of a break with a “winter schedule” that includes less time on the practice field and, at least for this week, no padded practice.

“We actually talked about it in the team meeting. We need to practice the right way,” McCarthy explained, careful to make it clear that the team is not overlooking their in-state rivals.

“Like I told the team today, I don’t know if there’s a coach in the NFL- coordinator or head coach- that I’ve gone against more than [Texans head coach] Lovie Smith. I have a lot of respect for how his teams play, how his defenses have played over the last couple decades. I think we’ve just got to really stay in tune on the things that we need to do to win the game.”

That has included preparing for two different Houston quarterbacks.

The Texans benched 2022 starter Davis Mills after going 1-8-1 in the team’s first ten contests. Kyle Allen stepped in for two games and struggled in back-to-back losses. It was announced earlier in the week that Mills would be re-installed under center for Sunday’s game in Arlington.

McCarthy has chosen to focus on the positives that Mills brings to the Texans offense rather than his 11 interceptions and 29.7 QBR score.

“He’s someone that we really liked coming out of Stanford. He’s got good tape. There’s a lot of good things. They’re a traditional West Coast offense with [veteran offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton, you see the multiple personnel groups every play,” McCarthy said. “In my view, it’s the most quarterback-friendly offense in this league. We’ll definitely be challenged there.”

With three defensive players not participating in Wednesday’s practice session and another three limited, the Cowboys- despite their recent successes and rise in the standings- don’t need any more challenges, no matter who they’re facing.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got a full seven-day preparation for the Texans, and I’m very confident we will max it out. Then we’ve got to get up Sunday and go get it,” McCarthy said.

There are few things more dangerous than an opponent who’s down on their luck and playing like they have nothing to lose.

The coach knows it. He’s hoping his players remember it.

“It’s the National Football League, and we all recognize that. It’s so damn hard to win a game in this league, regardless of the point spread. You can never lose sight of that.”


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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire