Mike McCarthy says Dallas Cowboys are 'going to win' Sunday against Washington Football Team

FRISCO, Texas -- In his first day back in the office after a 10-day absence because of COVID-19, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy expressed confidence in his team heading into Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team.

"We're going to win this game," McCarthy said. "I'm confident in that."

It wasn't exactly Jimmy Johnson's bold call into a local radio station before the 1993 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers when the Hall of Fame coach said, "We will win the ballgame. You can put it in 3-inch headlines." But it was a sign that McCarthy believes in his team.

"I mean, what am I supposed to say?" McCarthy said. "Yeah, I fully expect to win every game I've ever competed in. That's what sports is all about. That's what the NFL [is all about]. Trust me, I understand how hard it is. They're working hard. We're working hard. But, yeah, we're clearly planning on going to Washington and winning the game. There's no doubt about that."

Cowboys players had no issue with what McCarthy said.

"S--- yeah," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "It doesn't put us in a bad spot. Obviously if you're preparing for this game, you're a Dallas Cowboy; if you're a fan, you expect to go in and win each and every game, so I don't think he's said anything different than [what are] everyone in this building's thoughts. He just voiced it. Now we've got to make sure we're accountable of our words. And I think that's all that is, is a coach setting the tone for the week."

Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen wasn't as impressed.

"The only guarantee in this world is death and taxes," he said.

McCarthy's pledge to win comes with both of his running backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, dinged up entering the game.

Elliott has been dealing with a right knee injury since October, and Pollard sustained a partially torn plantar fascia on his 58-yard touchdown run last week against the New Orleans Saints. Pollard has not practiced this week and considers himself a game-time decision.

"They say once you tear it, it actually heals better and you don't feel it as much," Pollard said. "So I'm waiting until I get to that point."

Elliott will play but he has gone six straight games without topping 51 yards rushing. He had an MRI last Friday that revealed the injury is healing and he said the stiffness is lessening. The Cowboys have Corey Clement on the active roster and signed veteran Ito Smith to the practice squad this week as insurance.

The Cowboys lead the NFC East with an 8-4 record, but Washington has won four straight games and these teams meet two times over the next three weeks. During Thursday's team meeting, McCarthy showed a video on the history of the rivalry between the two franchises.

The Cowboys hold a 73-47-2 advantage in the series, but lost both games last season that were played without Prescott. In his career, Prescott is 7-1 vs. Washington.

"We're just really focused on self-improvement and winning," McCarthy said. "We've got to do whatever we got to do to win the game. But these guys are very accountable, the work ethic of our football team, the whole space is. They're very accountable. We know what people think of us. We love that. We're comfortable with who we are and where we are, but I'm excited about what's in front of us."

The Cowboys close the season with four NFC East games mixed around a Jan. 2 meeting against the Arizona Cardinals, who have the best record in the league.

"This is December football," McCarthy said. "I mean, December football defines your season. You have to get it done in December. There's no way we can get to where we want to go if we don't take care of things. I like the fact that we're on a five-week stretch. Hopefully this stays seven days. That would be nice. But I really like the way this lays up for us."

McCarthy has a 39-19 career mark in December.

He doesn't worry about bulletin board material.

"With respect to your job, I think it's a waste of time," he said. "I'm more focused on the real stuff. I think it's important you go through the week to identify how the opponent is going to play you things you're expecting. By Friday, they're blank faces to me. We're about winning, doing the things we need to win, just stay on the details of where we need to improve. To me, that's enough work."

ESPN's John Keim contributed to this report.