This weeks matchup sees the battle of Texas unfold at Reliant Stadium between the undefeated Houston Texans and the winless Dallas Cowboys at 1 p.m ET.
Several storylines will make this matchup a juicy one to watch. After an 0-2 start, the Cowboys haven’t been that bad in two games so far this year. Their passing game has been its always effective self, ranking 2nd in the league with 325 yds/game. Their run game, however, has been non-existent, averaging a meager 69.5 yds/game through two weeks. Part of problem with their running game is the fact they’ve faced off against two of the best run defenses in the league (Skins ranked 8th, Bears ranked 1st). But they’re also having trouble establishing the run, which puts pressure on the passing game to produce. The problem doesn’t lie in the personnel, as the Cowboys have one of the most talented offenses in the league, but in fact coaching and execution has been the thorn in Dallas’ side. People are once again questioning Wade Philips and Jason Garret’s ability to coach this team. After a ton of coaching mistakes versus the Redskins in week 1 (the decision to run the ball at the end of the half, resulting in a Deangelo Hall TD) and some poor play calling last week versus the Bears, the Cowboys coaching staff is in a must win situation. The players, although they’ve put up some yards, ranking 4th in total yards, haven’t been turning their production into points, averaging only 13.5 points per game. They’ve made 6 trips to the redzone this season, and converted on only 2 of those attempts. If the Cowboys can execute against a poor Houston defense, then they’ll give themselves a chance to win this game. Their defense has played well against the run, something that will help them greatly this week against Arian Foster. If they can contain Houston’s running game much like Washington did last week, they’ll force the Texans to throw the ball, and coax Schuab into making some mistakes.
Houston has played two tough opponents, and in each game they showed us something that they lacked last year. Against the Colts they showed they could, well, beat the Colts. It was a huge monkey off their backs, and the self belief that it instilled in them has been immensely valuable. Secondly, they showed they could come from behind, as they proved last week against the Skins that they’ve got some fire in their belly, and this won’t be a season of giving up. The offense is first in rushing yards, points and total yards, giving reason to believe that they’ll be able to move the chains versus Dallas’ defense on Sunday. With an offense this well balanced, few units will be able to stop them this season. But the Texans defense has not played well so far this season. They’re getting burned against the pass and Dallas can put some points on the board. Versus the Skins last week, Houston gave up 426 yards through the air, while in week 1 the Cowboys defense held the Skins to 171 yards passing. This gross discrepancy will play a factor on Sunday.
Cowboys Texans Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys +3
@ Houston Texans -3
Dallas Cowboys (+120)
@ Houston Texans (-140)
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Cowboys Texans Predictions for Week 3 Game:
Spread Prediction (Top Play): After this week, the Cowboys go into their bye week, and the opening three matches were supposed to be the soft part of their schedule. However, they find themselves in a must win situation on Sunday. No team has ever won the Super Bowl after starting the season 0-3, and if there’s ever a time during the season to make a head coaching change, it’s the week a team’s going into their bye. Like I said before, coaches Philips and Garrett are under pressure to get their team a win, and to their advantage they’ve been in this familiar position before. In week 15 last year, Dallas faced the undefeated Saints. They were coming off back to back losses to the Giants in NY and then the Chargers in Dallas. The team was 8-5, and the team was criticized for not being able to win against playoff teams. To the surprise of many, the Cowboys marched into the Superdome and played a flawless 60 minutes, handing the Saints their first loss of the season in a 24-17 victory. As oblivious as Wade Philips may look on the sidelines during the games, he does in fact have some form of control over his players, and he does win games when his back’s against the wall. The line in this game is spot on. So far this season, the Texans have looked and executed better, and going on stats alone there’s little reason to swing in the direction of Dallas. But recent history has taught us to not count out the Cowboys, and I like them to cover the spread this week. Romo and the offense can move the ball just as well as the Texans can, so they cancel each other out. The Cowboys playmaking ability on defense and their pass rush will be factors in this game. The Texans just lost starting Tackle Duane Brown to suspension. This will give Schuab less time in the pocket, which could lead to some costly turnovers. Take the Cowboys to cover in this entertaining matchup that will surely end up in a few sports highlight packages on Sunday night.
Game Total Prediction: This game should produce lots of points, as two of the league’s best passing offenses square off. The Cowboys running game has been poor, and I expect it to remain poor versus a very good run stopping unit. Look for Romo to flirt with 40 attempts, and to score often. The Texans will need to throw to keep pace, or vice versa. Regardless, both of these teams are built to play in high scoring games. Take the over in this game; it’s the right play. Prediction – Over 47.5 Points
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