Cowboys at Texans – NFL Pick for October 7
Football is king in the state of Texas. Nobody from the Lone Star State would dispute that. However, the only two NFL teams that call Texas home have only played each other 4 times during the regular season. The Houston Texans didn’t exist until 2002, and the teams are in different conferences. So, they only see each other once every 4 years. The Texans actually beat the Dallas Cowboys in Houston’s first-ever game way back in ’02, but the Cowboys have taken the 3 meetings since. The most recent game came in 2014 when Dallas edged Houston in an overtime affair.
Obviously, plenty has changed about the teams since their last regular season get-together. For one, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tony Romo were the starting quarterbacks that day. Fitzpatrick is now plying his craft as the recently-demoted backup behind Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, while Romo is now in the broadcast booth. Both teams’ No. 1 running backs, DeMarco Murray and Arian Foster, are now retired, too.
The Texans managed to get their first win of the season last week with a come-from-behind overtime win in Indianapolis over the Colts. Deshaun Watson put up a nice game, completing 29 of his 42 attempts for 375 yards with a couple of touchdowns alongside an interception. The key for Houston’s passing attack was rookie wideout Keke Coutee, who played his first NFL game after missing the first 3 weeks with injury. The Texas Tech product started and lined up in the slot against Indy. The Texans raved about Coutee during training camp, and it’s easy to see why. In his first game, Coutee caught 11 passes for 109 yards. Expect him to be heavily involved in the offense moving forward.
The emergence of Coutee will help take some attention away from DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Hopkins put up a massive game of his own with 10 catches for 169 yards with a score, while Fuller scored his third touchdown of the season. The Texans do have a decent running game, but I would expect Houston to continue to look to attack opposing defenses through the air.
Frankly, I don’t really envision the Cowboys being able to stop the Texans’ aerial attack in this one. The Dallas secondary has looked vulnerable early in the season, and they don’t really have the horses to keep up with Houston’s array of talented pass-catchers. With Watson serving as a threat to tuck it and run, as well, this could be a long night for the Dallas defense.
The Cowboys were able to pick up a close win last Sunday at home against the Lions. Dallas finds most of its success offensively when it utilizes more play-action. Dak Prescott has put up middling numbers this season, but he was making more downfield throws last week than we’ve seen for most of the season. The former Mississippi State Bulldog completed 17 of his 27 throws for 255 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Cowboys will go as Ezekiel Elliott goes. Elliott put up a monster game against the Lions, carrying the ball 25 times for 152 yards. Zeke also caught another 4 passes for 88 yards and a TD. Having Elliott available as a viable option in the passing game will be key for Dallas, especially as Prescott continues to get used to playing with several new receivers.
The Texans’ defense gave up plenty of yardage last week in Indy, but they were ultimately able to come up with big plays when it mattered. In terms of personnel, I think the Texans have a pretty clear advantage over the Cowboys defensively.
Houston’s offense ran a more diverse set of plays with Coutee available and in the fold, and I would obviously be surprised if Bill O’Brien reverted back to the conservative play calling we saw from him through the first 3 weeks. Like Prescott, Watson is a quarterback who is at his best when the offense is running run fakes and misdirections. If the Texans can put some points on the board early, I have a hard time imagining how the Cowboys are going to mount enough of a counterattack to fight back.
So, I like Houston at home in this one. The Texans are more than overdue for a victory over their intrastate rivals, and I think they exact a little revenge in this one. I like the value you can get on the Texans to cover the 3-point spread here at -120. That’s just too low. I’m expecting an easy win here for Houston.
$100 stake could win...