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Ron Rivera may be wearing a smile, but he isn't amused. The head coach of the Washington Football Team heard about comments made by Mike McCarthy, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, three days ahead of their first 2021 battle. The two have now ingratiated themselves fully into one of the longest running and most toxic rivalries in the NFL, and that can only serve to make their meeting in Week 14 that much more entertaining -- although one of them will walk away disappointed.

McCarthy believes it will be Rivera taking the loss, as is always the case for a coach and the goals of his respective team, and he made his intentions very clear: the Cowboys' plan is to go to Washington and deliver them a loss for the holidays.

"We've got to do whatever we've got to do to win the game," McCarthy told media on Thursday. "But these guys are very accountable. The work ethic of our football team -- the whole space is very high. They're very accountable. 

"We know what people think of us. We love that. We're comfortable who we are, where we are. I'm excited about what's in front of us. We're going to win this game. I'm confident in that, just the prep that's going into it."

There are a couple of ways to interpret McCarthy's words, and one is to view it as a guarantee, even if it really is nothing more than a coach saying out loud what every coach believes and prepares weekly to do: win the game. What matters, however, is that the comments have exploded into what many view as bulletin board material for Washington, so when Rivera was asked about them, he fired back.

"I think that's the big mistake, because as far as I'm concerned, you know you do that for a couple of reasons," Rivera said in an interview with team executive Julie Donaldson. "One is you want to get in our head, and so I've told our players, 'That's interesting [but] it's not important. What's important is our preparation getting ready to play on Sunday.' Secondly, he's trying to convince his team, you know, so again I think that's another mistake because he's made it about him and what he said. 

"It's not about his players anymore, so I think that's a big mistake. That's why, to me, you don't do those things, what you do is focus in on, get ready and you play football. We'll show up on Sunday and see what happens."

It's the most pivotal NFC East matchup thus far this season, and one with playoff implications for both teams. And while McCarthy likely was not issuing a guarantee, but instead making it clear to his players what the standard and expectations are, it didn't go over well in Washington -- leading to comments from Rivera that are now bulletin board material in Dallas.

Is it Sunday yet?