Sunday night will feature a battle in the Lone Star State as the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) travel to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans (1-3). This matchup features some of the most exciting young players in the league, particularly Ezekiel Elliott and Deshaun Watson. Both teams are having their fair share of issues this season as well. For Houston, they are struggling to stop anyone on the defensive side, despite being anchored by All-Pro J.J. Watt.
For the Cowboys, it has been more about their inability to score, particularly with a depleted receiving core. Regardless, both are going to have the opportunity to try to notch one more victory on their belt, and earn some in-state bragging rights as well. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 pm ET.
The spread for this one comes in with the Houston Texans being slight -3 favorites. Essentially, it is basically a 50/50 type matchup, with Houston getting the nod simply because they are playing at home.. The over/under for total points scored sits at 45.5.
Cowboys Looking For Offense, Any Offense
The Cowboys have to be happy at 2-2 at this point. With an offense that is struggling all over the board, they very well could be 0-4 had things shook out just a little differently. In their four games, they lost to the Panthers (16-8), beat the Giants (20-13), lost to the Seahawks (24-13) and eat the Lions (26-24). The big takeaways from that are a) they haven’t beaten a team by more than a touchdown yet) and b) there offense is only averaging a little less than 17 points a game. On either side, that is not a recipe for success.
On the offensive side, they returned quarterback Dak Prescott to behind center. The problem is that he doesn’t have a whole lot to throw to. Thus far, Prescott is 71 of 115 for just 753 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His leading receiver is Cole Beasley (16 receptions, 185 yards) and then next in line is Ezekiel Elliott (15 catches, 125 yards, 1 touchdown). The biggest takeaway is that they don’t have that number one receiver. While there are whispers that Dez Bryant would be open to a return to Dallas, it does not seem as if that feeling is mutual.
On the ground, Ezekiel Elliott has been solid but not spectacular thus far. He has 426 yards on 73 carries and 2 touchdowns. While those are great numbers, an offense that is struggling like that of Dallas could use even bigger games from Zeke. Next in line rushing is Dak Prescott, who has 87 yards on 17 carries.
Texans Can Score, But Can They Stop
Through four games, the Texans have given up 108 points (27 points per game average). Thus far they gave up 27 to New England in a loss, 20 to the Titans in a loss and 27 to the Giants in a loss. In their only win, against the Indianapolis Colts, they gave up 34. Needless to say, they have some issues to resolve on the defensive side and, unfortunately for them, JJ Watt can’t play all nine positions.
On the offensive side, after a rough first game, Deshaun Watson has had a decent turnaround to his season. On the season he is 92 for 148 for 1,246 yards. He has 7 touchdowns in the air and 4 interceptions. As expected, his go-to target is DeAndre Hopkins. Thus far, Hopkins has 30 receptions for 443 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Texans are also hoping that oft-injured Will Fuller will be able to go on Sunday.
In limited games, Fuller has 17 catches for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, Deshaun Watson has rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown on 24 rushes.
Speaking of the ground, the Texans might have their number one rusher out for Sunday’s contest, as Lamar Miller has been limited all week. If he isn’t able to go, they will likely turn to Alfred Blue. On the season, Blue has 29 rushes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Texans Outscore the Cowboys
Really, this boils down to the fact that I think that the Cowboys offense as a whole is worse than the Texans defense. Granted, I think Zeke will get his yards today, but with such limited threats at receiver, I think the Texans will be able to stack the box and try to limit Elliott’s damage. I do expect that Dallas will be able to put up some points, but ultimately I anticipate Watson having another strong game and leading Houston to their second win. Take the Texans even giving the 3 points.