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Cowboys news: Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams to IR, David Irving ruled out, Texans/Cowboys preview

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys vs. Texans odds: 'Sunday Night Football' picks, predictions from model on 59-36 roll - Staff, CBS Sports
The Cowboys are underdogs this week as the Texans are favored by a field goal. Oddsmakers also have this one as a possible shootout.

On "Sunday Night Football," the Houston Texans host the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. ET. Both teams should be revved up after rallying for dramatic victories last week. Dallas needed late-game heroics to survive the Lions, while the Texans took advantage of an overly aggressive Colts squad to secure the win in Indianapolis. In the latest Cowboys vs. Texans odds, Houston opened as a 3-point home favorite and is now laying 3.5. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, has risen steadily from 42 to 45.5.

Dallas Cowboys place Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams on injured reserve - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys made a couple roster moves on Saturday to free up some space for the return of David Irving.

The Dallas Cowboys have placed Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick and veteran wide receiver Terrance Williams on injured reserve and activated defensive tackle David Irving from the suspended list, the team announced Saturday.

With the moves, the Cowboys have 52 players on the roster.

While it’s unfortunate to know the Cowboys won’t have Frederick for the next couple months, could it mean we’ll see a healthy Frederick late in the season?

David Irving Moved To 53; Still Ruled Out - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
But wait, don't get excited about the return of Irving just yet.

The defensive tackle seemingly took one step closer to making his debut when the Cowboys decided to activate him from the reserve/suspended list on Saturday and place him on the 53-man roster. However, he is not expected to be in Houston for the game and will be inactive.

And the timing is unfortunate because the interior defensive line could really use his help on Sunday night.

And it's now a position of need, considering the injury situation at defensive tackle. Maliek Collins, who missed last week with a knee injury, and has also been ruled out Sunday night.

Also, Antwaun Woods has been dealing with a calf injury that he suffered last week and is questionable to play Sunday night.

With Irving now on the roster, the Cowboys’ defensive tackle position includes Tyrone Crawford, Woods, Daniel Ross and Caraun Reid.

Here is the team’s final practice report:

The Cowboys are playing on primetime on NBC Sunday night so we’ll all get to watch the game, but if you’re curious as to what games will be televised in your area, here is the broadcast schedule courtesy of 506 Sports.

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 5 - Kevin Brady, Inside The Star
The Cowboys could end the week in first place in the NFC East if they beat that Texans, but they'll need a little bit to do it. The good news is - they could get it as all three of their divisional foes have tough inter-conference games this week. Brady previews all three games, including the current NFC East leaders.

Washington Redskins

Washington had a bye week last Sunday, so they enter week 5 with a 2-1 record. This week they travel to New Orleans to face a Saints team which seems to have found themselves after a shaky start to their 2018 campaign.

Alex Smith should be able to get things going through the air against the Saints, and running back Chris Thompson should have a good game as a receiver out of the backfield. Defensively Washington will certainly be challenged, especially as Drew Brees chases Peyton Manning's career passing yards record on Monday night.

NFL Week 5 NBC Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans Preview - Staff, Pro Football Focus
Pro Football Focus provides their weekly game preview with some key things to pay attention to, including the ability to protect Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Watson taking shots

The Texans need to do a better job of protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson, and there’s no better place to start than Sunday night against the Cowboys. Through four games, Watson has been sacked and hit in the pocket a combined 22 times, which is the third-most in the league.

And the Cowboys have the right guy to exploit a suspect Texans offensive line.

What PFF forgot to include:

Two defensive ends got the franchise tag this year, with very different results – Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk
Using the franchise tag is always a gamble. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn't. Both DeMarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah have had multiple seasons dealing with different injuries and they were tagged in the offseason.

The Cowboys and Lions both put the franchise tag on a defensive end before the start of free agency this year, but the results have been very different.

For Dallas, the defensive end was DeMarcus Lawrence, who signed the one-year, $17.1 million franchise tender and has done exactly what teams always hope a player will do when playing on a one-year contract: He’s looked determined to earn a massive multi-year deal next offseason. Lawrence is leading the NFL with 5.5 sacks this year.

For Detroit, the defensive end was Ezekiel Ansah, who also signed the one-year, $17.1 million franchise tender. But that has not gone according to plan: Ansah suffered a shoulder injury in Week One and hasn’t played since, and he’s already been ruled out for this week. Through five weeks, Ansah has been on the field for just 19 snaps.

Texans and Cowboys prepare for rare meeting - Associated Press, FOX Sports
Dak Prescott isn't the only quarterback that hangs on to the ball too long. Houston's Deshaun Watson is guilty as well as detailed in FOX Sports weekly game preview.

PROTECTING WATSON: Watson has been sacked 17 times, second most in the NFL. While Houston’s offensive line has been criticized for the number of hits Watson has taken this season, he’s quick to point out his lineman shouldn’t take all the blame for the sacks.

“A lot of the sacks I put upon me getting rid of the ball or holding the ball too long or trying to create a play where I probably could have thrown the ball away or ran for extra yardage — two or three yards,” he said. “But, those guys are doing a heck of a job and … they’re improving, building chemistry, enjoying the game, having fun and just getting better every week.”

Five things to look for in this week’s Cowboys-Texans game: Zeke’s workload, stopping Watt, and more - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Watkins provides his five things to look for against Houston, including whether or not a heavy workload on Zeke will take it's toll.

A heavy workload isn’t the question for Elliott. What fans and analysts wonder is whether he can bear that burden and stay productive. That being said, over his three-year career, Elliott has been productive following heavy workloads, starting in that magical rookie season of 2016. After rushing 30 times for 140 yards in a Week 3 win over Chicago, Elliott carried 23 more times for 138 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 game, a victory at San Francisco.

And then last season...

Elliott went on a three-game stretch later that season with carries of 29, 26 and 33 as the Cowboys won two of those games. The comeback after a heavy workload doesn’t appear to be the problem going into Sunday.

Texans-Cowboys Preview: SIX Things To Watch For - Matt Weston, Battle Red Blog
On Friday, we gave you are five things to watch in the Cowboys/Texans game. Not to be outdone, our sister site Battle Red Blog offered up six things to watch, including the all important success-gauge of Dak going deep.

3. Can Dak Break 200 Passing Yards?

In Dak Prescott’s career He’s thrown for less than 200 yards 15 times. In those games Dallas is 7-8. When he throws for more than 200 yards Dallas is 17-4. When Dallas’s passing game is working the Cowboys are almost unbeatable. When it isn’t, they’re a mediocre football team.

To start this season Prescott has broken that mystical barrier once when he threw for 255 yards last week against the Lions. So far this year, Prescott has a passing DYAR of -132 (31st) and a DVOA of -27.1% (31st), which lumps him in the hatch above the basement along with Case Keenum and Nick Foles.

The reason for the inefficient passing game is everything is short. But not only is it short, it’s short and slow. When you think of quick passing attacks you think of pre-snap reads, finds the open man before the snap. Immediate passes against off-man coverage. Quick, well designed screens. Dallas’s offense isn’t that. It’s short and boring and slow.

This year Prescott has thrown only 12 downfield passes. He’s completed 5 of them for 174 yards and a touchdown. Sam Bradford and the newly afraid Alex Smith are the only starting quarterbacks who have thrown less deep passes. And it’s not that Prescott is a terrible downfield thrower. He can hit open men down the sideline in stride. He did it against the Giants in week two with a lovely high rising toss to Tavon Austin. Last week he found Michael Gallup down the left sideline.

3 most pressing Texans concerns for Cowboys in Week 5 - Ben Grimaldi, Cowboys Wire
It might be hard for Dak to pile up the passing yards with a couple of big-time pass rushers coming after him.

Concern #1: Slowing Houston’s pass rush

It’s no secret when perparing for the Texans, the game plan centers around slowing their pass rush. J.J. Watt is one of the best edge rushers in the league and finally healthy again. Watt had five sacks, four forced fumbles and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September, so the Cowboys must account for Watt all game long.

Dealing with Watt would be easier if it were just him wreaking havoc on offenses, but he has a few partners in crime. Jadeveon Clowney bookends Watt and is heating up, collecting his first two sacks on the season against the Indianapolis Colts.

But the Cowboys have a top-five option themselves to counter some of that amazing pass rushing talent.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players to watch vs. Texans in Week 5 - Randy Gurzi, NFL Spin Zone
Tyron isn't the only Cowboys tackle who will have his work cut out for him.

2. La’eL Collins, Offensive Tackle

On the other side of the line, there could be another huge battle brewing. Dallas right tackle La’el Collins draws the short straw as he will have the task of blocking J.J. Watt, for the most part, this Sunday night. And if you think Watt isn’t the same player because he was out the past couple seasons with injuries, you haven’t seen him the past two weeks for Houston.

Against the New York Giants, Watt had eight tackles and three sacks. He added another two sacks the following week against the Indianapolis Colts. He was credited with three forced fumbles in those two games and has four on the young season.

Watt is simply a game wreaker and will be out to destroy a struggling offense. The man blocking him Sunday has been the lowest rated Dallas offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) who grades him just below center Joe Looney and rookie guard Connor Williams.

Dallas believes in Collins as a bookend to their line and matchups like this are what will prove them right or wrong. The Cowboys need Collins to be at his very best because lately, No. 99 on Houston has been.

Gut Feeling: Predictions For Cowboys-Texans - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
The writing staff over at the Mothership take a stab at predicting the score of Sunday night's game. Broaddus is a perfect 4-0 so far this season, so let's see what he has to say.

Bryan Broaddus: The weakness of this Texans defense is their secondary, but their strength is the pass rush. My biggest concern is the pressure they can generate but also the way they create turnovers in the pocket. Clowney and Watt are always ripping at the ball when they get near the quarterback. Prescott has seen the tape and he knows this is a way that the Texans like to operate. If the Cowboys can protect, they can win this game, but these rushers won’t be held off the stat sheet. Clowney or Watt create a turnover in the pocket which will be the difference in this game. Texans 28-24.

Let's hope his streak of correctly predicting the winner ends this week.

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