Sometimes an opponent can motivate a team all on its own. Dan Quinn facing the Atlanta Falcons last season, when a team has to play against the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, already 0-1 on the year, or just a simple rivalry game within the division. If the opponent doesn’t bring the type of motivation a team could need, then team goals might.
The Cowboys are attempting to win the NFC East title for a second year in a row for the first time since the 1996 season. They are also battling for the top seed in the conference and a single loss could put that outcome out of reach. As a team Dallas has plenty to play for, but individually players might need even more in order to not under perform in games like Sunday.
Micah Parsons is trying to win defensive player of the year and he wasn’t impactful on the stat sheet last week. He admitted that it pissed him off and he will be looking to remedy that against the Texans. Players like Tony Pollard, Dalton Schultz, Connor McGovern, Donovan Wilson, and Leighton Vander Esch are upcoming free agents and are trying to earn contracts for next season. Lamb is attempting to show he is one of the best receivers in the country, and then there is a player like Kelvin Joseph, who is fighting to show he can be a starting corner for this defense.
Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes. It is an incredibly useful tool in order to keep individuals and teams playing well through adversity and good times. In Week 14 of the season, when every single player has aches and pains, injuries, and even and illness that is running through the locker room, what do players need in order to play to their top potential in games that aren’t naturally motivating?
Make no mistake the point spread alone will be motivation for the Houston Texans, and if the Cowboys can find a way to match their intensity early, it could be a key to not just the victory, but Dallas trying to cover for another week of this season.
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