FRISCO, Texas — Sunday night's heavyweight clash between the Cowboys and 49ers needs no introduction for how impactful the game can be for both teams' psyche moving forward as well as potential playoff positioning down the line.
Even with it being still early in the season, taking advantage of the week five opportunity is at the front of the mind for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys as they look to avenge the playoff defeats suffered in each of the last two seasons.
With all of that on the table, it's easy to see that the impact stretches much further than just the 60 minutes that will be played on the field.
"It means more than just one game," Prescott said. "You got to treat it as one game. At the end of the day it would just be one game. But understanding these guys are undefeated, fighting for the one seed, we're always trying to get every game that you can."
"You don't go into any game thinking that we don't need this one or this one is as big as that one. But from a team that's been consistent the past few years, knocked us out of the playoffs in the last few years, there's a lot that we can gain from this win that makes it definitely more than just one game."
This time around, a couple of things play into Dallas' favor including a healthy Tony Pollard who is ready to take his league-leading usage into San Francisco on the same field that he suffered a fractured fibula in last season.
"Having him healthy and the way he's going to come in and play and the way we're not only going to feature him, but the rest of the guys as well," Prescott said. "I mean Rico [Dowdle] has been playing well. Deuce [Vaughn] is getting in some time, just continue to spread the ball out like we have. We have playmakers. We've got to get it in their hands."
Another difference is Brandin Cooks, who was brought in over the offseason to not only add speed to Dallas' offense, but also to help provide an impact in games such as these. Even though his usage through four games has been lower than expected, Prescott alluded that his time was near.
"He's a special player, and his big day is going to come," he said. "Maybe this week. He's going to win his one-on-ones, he's going to always be open. When that look is advantageous and they give him one-on-ones, I think for us and for myself it's more about just featuring him and getting it to him."
Following that loss to San Francisco last season, an offseason full of change was almost immediately initiated. The Cowboys moved on from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and longtime starting running back Ezekiel Elliott before adding Cooks and veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
This time around, Prescott feels comfortable about the changes made and how it will help the team against its kryptonite of the last two seasons, not only structurally with the team, but with his play overall as well.
"There's a lot of good that's come from the changes versus the past year of playing against these guys," he said. "One is my play, simple as that. Go back and turn on that tape. I wasn't my best in either of those games and wasn't close to it. In the last one, [we're] two or three plays away from winning that game and a game being a different score."
The noise around this matchup started when the season schedule dropped in the spring, and it was amplified immediately following the conclusion of the Cowboys' week four win. While the buzz around the game remains high, Prescott is taking the same approach as he always does.
"We've stopped listening," he said. "That's in the past, but we know what's been on tape, we know what's out there. We know what the history is. I can't say this is about proving to the world as much as this is us going to get our week five win that we know is a big win. [A win could] continue to propel us throughout this season and could be huge come time for playoff seedings and future implications down the road."