It’s a rare event, but this week the two professional football teams from the state of Texas will meet. The Dallas Cowboys will welcome the Houston Texans to AT&T Stadium on Sunday. The Cowboys are rolling at 9-3 while the Texans are already eliminated from the playoffs at 1-10-1. The Cowboys are huge favorites at 17 points according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
We checked in with the fine folks at Battle Red Blog to get the latest on the Texans.
Blogging The Boys: It looks like the Texans are going back to Davis Mills at quarterback. What kind of player is Mills and should he be the quarterback, or is Kyle Allen a better choice?
Battle Red Blog: I’d probably compare Davis Mills to Andy Dalton. He’s not as good as Dalton was at his peak, but I could see him having similar numbers as Dalton now in a better offense. He led the league in interceptions before giving the job to Allen. Allen pretty much said, “hold my beer” and became a turnover machine. The floor with the Texans is higher with Mills at the helm, but the ceiling is not very high. Of course, there are many reasons for that and most of them aren’t on Mills. Mills is not a good quarterback, but they aren’t losing just because he’s not a good quarterback.
BTB: Dameon Pierce looks like a bright spot for the Texans. Talk about his game and how the Texans use him.
BRB: It might be sacrilegious to utter this name, but Pierce reminds me a bit of Earl Campbell. Granted, Campbell was the extreme version, but he has speed, elusiveness, and power. He thrives on contact and breaking tackles. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been utilized consistently this season. Before Sunday, he had back to back weeks where he combined for four yards rushing and about 20 yards from scrimmage. Yet, he already has 1000 yards plus from scrimmage and is less than 150 yards from 1000 rushing. The inconsistent use is not his fault. Some of it is constantly playing from behind, but most of it is just idiotic play calling.
BTB: What are the good parts, and the bad parts, of the Texans defense.
BRB: Good parts? I’m going to have to get creative. Their defensive ends (led by Jerry Hughes) have gotten consistent pressure on the QB. They are usually good for two to three sacks a game between them. Even with Derek Stingley out, they have a solid group of corners that aren’t great, but certainly solid. Beyond that, they are young and inconsistent. At different points in the year they’ve had five players in their first or second season in the regular rotation. So, the hope is that we see some growth. The worst part of the defense is easily the run defense. Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard should easily combine for 150 yards and 200 is likely if they really go for it. The Texans are currently on pace to surrender more rushing yards per game than any team since 1972. I was born in 1973. So that’s literally the worst rushing defense in my lifetime.
BTB: Besides acquiring a top quarterback, how else can the Texans revive their franchise and break out of their current condition?
BRB: I am more optimistic than my colleagues (I know that seems unbelievable to those reading this). I think if they draft the right quarterback and flush this current coaching staff in favor of a much younger and more innovative head coach they can be competitive next year and could push for the playoffs in 2024. They will have a lot of money under the cap the next two seasons and they have four first rounders the next two years. I think interior offensive linemen (center in particular) and defensive tackles are a must. They could use a go to receiver and maybe another linebacker or two. That seems like a lot and it is, but they don’t have to do all this in one year and if they hit on three or four draft picks they will be about half way there and that assumes they address nine of that in free agency.
BTB: The Texans are huge underdogs for this game. Is there hope they can pull off an upset, or even cover the spread? How will the game play out?
BRB: Lovie Smith is not a good coach and most want him gone, but he has one thing he has been able to do. There has been only one game this year where they lost by more than 17 (the opening line for Sunday). They’ve been thoroughly beaten on a consistent basis, but somehow the final scores don’t look that bad. As a fan, I dismiss this as cosmetic, but if I were a betting man I couldn’t ignore it. Mind you, every single facet of this game points to a blowout. Dallas has a great defense. The Texans have a horrible offense. Dallas has two really good running backs. We have the worst rushing defense of the last 50 years. Everything points to a 49-10 drubbing. Yet, just watch. It will end up being 35-20 with Dallas bettors scratching their head as to how they didn’t cover. I’d avoid the line altogether and probably bet on Elliott and Pollard both going over their total. That might actually be a good parlay.