The Cowboys just beat the Colts 54-19 and are now hosting the Texans, who hold the league’s worst record by a comfortable margin and tied with the Colts in Week 1. To no one’s surprise, Dallas is favored by 17 points going in, which is the largest point spread of any game this season.
Even the most pessimistic Cowboys fan doesn’t think this one could turn into a loss, right? It would certainly be a letdown of epic proportions if the Cowboys messed this one up. But do any of our writers think that will happen? Spoiler alert: nope.
When Houston has the ball
Bottle up Dameon Pierce
Rookie running back Dameon Pierce has pretty much been the Texans’ whole offense this year. Houston is dead last in total yards, and Pierce - third on the team in receptions - is accounting for just over 30% of their offense. The Texans don’t necessarily do much even when Pierce is on fire, as they’ve scored three touchdowns just once all season, but locking Pierce down is a great way to choke them out early.
Dallas has made strides in their run defense ever since they traded for Johnathan Hankins, and they’re now eighth in run defense DVOA. The Texans - who are going back to Davis Mills at quarterback after playing backup Kyle Allen the last two weeks - have been terrible all the way around: they’re 32nd in offensive DVOA, 32nd in passing DVOA, and 31st in rushing DVOA. It shouldn’t take much for this vaunted Dallas defense to handle them, but stopping Pierce would be the top priority.
When Dallas has the ball
Run the Texans over
The Texans defense, run by head coach Lovie Smith, has been better than their offense this year. That’s not saying much though, as Houston is still 26th in defensive DVOA. But their scheme - a traditional Tampa 2 - makes them vulnerable against the run, and as a result they’re 28th in run defense DVOA. Opposing offenses know this, too, which is why Houston leads the league in both carries against and rushing yards allowed. It’s been so bad that they’re also seeing the fewest pass attempts against this defense.
Enter the Cowboys, whose rushing duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard has been lethal all year. Dallas is third in rushing DVOA and Elliott and Pollard are both among the top 20 of running backs in rushing efficiency, with Pollard second in that category. Dak Prescott shouldn’t need to throw much in this game, and Dallas should be able to quite literally run away with things.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (8-4):
The Cowboys are on of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Texans are arguably the absolute worst, and have already been eliminated from the playoffs. The talent disparity is much greater than it was against the Colts, and we saw how that turned out. I don’t think Dallas will be trying to run the score up after making that 54 point statement last Sunday, but I just don’t see the Texans doing much to stop them.
It will be a fairly easy win for the Cowboys, 34-13.
Tony Catalina (7-5):
This game doesn’t have the drama or the build up. It’s an early window kickoff between two teams going in completely different directions. But none of that really matters. The Cowboys will look to secure a 10th win and a back to back season with double digit victories for the first time since 95-96’. The Cowboys are vastly superior to the Texans at this point in time and I expect the Cowboys to show as such.
Give me Dallas 31 Texans 13.
Matt Holleran (6-6):
This is easily the easiest game to predict on the entire Cowboys’ schedule. The Texans pose no real threat to the Cowboys, and Dallas should be able to put them away with ease. I see this game starting closer than some think, like the Indy game did, and the Cowboys once again turning on the jets in the second half. Dallas forces three takeaways and scores another defensive touchdown, winning in a rout.
Give me Dallas, 30-13.
Brandon Loree (8-4):
It’s the game of the year. The Battle for Texas. The Malik Collins revenge game. The Cowboys and Texans. I’m trying my best to hype you up for the game.
The truth is Houston is 1-10-1 and has no business playing this game. Their offense has been obismal to watch and serviceable at best. I want to see Jalen Tolbert and James Washington with over 50 yard’s receiving each. Not because of injury, but because of the Cowboys took a big enough lead into halftime, and pulled their starters five minutes into the third quarter.
I do expect the Texans to play competitive like the Colts did last week. I will take the Cowboys and this one by score of 41-13.
Matthew Arizzi (8-4):
Although the final score for last week’s game was overwhelmingly lopsided, the first half was tightly contested. Way too tightly contested, that is. This week against the Texans, the Cowboys should be looking to get off to a fast start. They allowed 30 first half points to the Dolphins two weeks back and the Cowboys should apply similar pressure early.
This isn’t necessarily about winning, it’s about how they win. Playing clean football, starting the game a bit quicker, and limiting penalties. A playoff berth is nearly clinched and in the process of that, the Cowboys should be fine tuning the small things to finally make a push come mid January. Give me the Cowboys here.
Cowboys 38, Texans 16.
Mike Poland (9-2):
The Houston Texans are dead last in rushing yards allowed. The Cowboys duo at running back are on fire right now, and the offensive line is only getting sharper. With the Cowboys scoring an average of 41 points a game in the last 3 games, and the Texans are scoring 13 in that same time frame, it’s looking very promising for the Governors trophy to come home.
Cowboys 38-13 Texans.
Brian Martin (9-3):
This Week 14 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys (9-3) and the Houston Texans (1-10-1) is a regular-season game with an exhibition type of feel. There’s no doubt in my mind the Cowboys will beat a really bad Texans team. The only question is by how much?
RJ Ochoa (8-4):
This should be a smooth operation for the Dallas Cowboys. We all know that they are a better team than the Houston Texans and they have started to show that they are capable of living up to legitimate expectations. Nobody is looking for style points here, though.
Get in. Get done. Get out. Cowboys win.
David Howman (9-3):
As a fantasy owner of both Dameon Pierce and Brandin Cooks, I’ve paid close enough attention to this year’s Texans to know that they play feisty enough in the first half before the bottom falls out in the second half. In fact, they’ve trailed by multiple scores at halftime just three times all year.
So I expect this game to follow a similar trajectory to the Colts game last week: a slow start followed by a mollywhopping. And if James Washington really is making his return/Cowboys debut in this game, I expect him and Dak Prescott to use this as practice to get that connection fine-tuned.
Cowboys win 41-16.