FRISCO, Texas — With a 1-2 record, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy knows his team needs to play better starting Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at AT&T Stadium (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

But there’s another reason why it matters: Sunday marks the first of three straight home games for the Cowboys.

If the Cowboys can get going at home, they can put their stamp on the NFC East relatively early.

“This is definitely a stretch we need to take advantage of. Very rarely do you ever get three home games in a row,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, as we’ve been talking about all week, we have an uncommon opponent in the Browns and we’ve got to make sure we do a heck of a job preparing and clearly understand these guys the best we can so we take advantage of being at home on Sunday.”

It is the second time McCarthy will have at least three straight home games as a head coach. In 2016, the Green Bay Packers played four straight at home but had a bye week after the first game. The Packers went 3-1 in that stretch, with their only loss to the Cowboys. Green Bay made the playoffs in 2016.

For the Cowboys, it’s the fifth time since 2000 they have had three straight home games. In 2018, Dallas won all three at AT&T Stadium as part of a five-game winning streak that propelled them into the playoffs.

In other seasons when Dallas has had at least a consecutive three-game homestand, the Cowboys made the playoffs in 2014, but missed the postseason in 2017 and 2002.

“It’s great to just be able to be here and to be here in Dallas, be at home to protect our home field and allow people to know when they come in here, this is our home and this is our home turf and we’re going to defend it,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “It’s a great way for us to get momentum going and get this thing going in the right direction.”

It took the Cowboys some time to gain a home-field advantage at AT&T Stadium. From 2009 to 2015, the Cowboys were 27-29 at home in the regular season. Since Prescott took over as a starter, the Cowboys have a 23-10 record at home.

Since 2016, the Cowboys’ 23 home wins are tied for fifth-most in the NFL.

“It’s always going to be electric when you’re in Jerry’s world,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said.

In the Cowboys’ 40-39 win against the Atlanta Falcons in their home opener, a crowd of 21,708 was in attendance. Cowboys’ officials expect a similar sized crowd Sunday against Cleveland.

Prescott and Smith said the crowd made a difference compared to the road games at the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks that had no fans in attendance.

“It’s a different atmosphere, especially big plays,” Prescott said. “You talk about big plays and momentum, when you have a crowd, you hear that, you get to feed off of them.”

Said Smith, “You can feel when there’s fans there for sure. But at the end of the day when you’re in between them lines, it’s about competing, it’s about doing your job, it’s about beating the man that’s across from you. So nothing changes when the ball is snapped.”

But there is this bit of good news for the Cowboys: McCarthy is 5-0 all-time at AT&T Stadium.



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