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Cowboys Clash With Texans

Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans 1 p.m. EST (FOX)

In the long list of NFL rivalries the Texans and Cowboys in not anywhere near the top, at least as far as the Cowboys are concerned. If you ask a Cowboys fan who their top rival or most hated team is you will hear the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, or New York Giants, and for good reason as they are all divisional rivals. But even outside of the division the Cowboys have had rivalries with the Steelers, 49ers, and Packers at one time or another. While we are at it, we should be clear that while the Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team” they are also a team that every other team loves to beat.

For a few years, the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Cowboys had an in-state rivalry going but it was never one of the premier rivalries. However, one thing the upstart Texans’ fans love is the notion of beating the state rivals from Dallas. Who can blame them really, they have not had much else to get horribly excited about since 2002 when the Texans first came into the league. The Texans did win in their first ever NFL regular season game against the Quincy Carter led Cowboys 19-17 which only added to their rival status with the Cowboys.

We fast forward eight years to this, Week 3, of the 2010 NFL season. The Texans are undefeated, and the Cowboys completely defeated. This past week has looked completely different for both the Texans and Cowboys. After two weeks the Houston Texans have looked like the high flying, high scoring, team that many of us thought they would be. They are first in the league in scoring and their offense is ranked number one overall in the league. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have been dreadful and cannot get out of their own way. While they rank fourth in the league in total yards, that has not translated into any points for Dallas. With constant turnovers and penalties coupled with unbalanced play calling has sent the Cowboys into a position none of us thought they would be in. Now, with all the expectations of a lofty season weighing them down, they need to travel to the hostile Reliant Stadium in hopes of getting back on track. Lose this one, and, well, let’s just say, they will have the best seats in the house come Super Bowl Sunday.

The Game

In regular season games the Cowboys and Texans have split their only two meetings. This year’s matchup will be quite unlike any other. The Texans are finally competitive, nay, formidable. The Texans were everyone’s sexy pick this year in AFC playoff race. Coming off their first ever winning season last year, it is playoffs or bust for the Texans. Unlike the Cowboys, who have Super Bowl or bust, the Texans are giving a lot of people hope that they will realize those expectations.

This game will come down to which team executes better and does not turn the ball over. So far the Cowboys have given little hope that they will be that team, but, they have the talent to turn it around. Head coach Wade Phillips has been happy with how the team has responded this week in practice. Texan’s coach Gary Kubiak says the Cowboys situation could be a lot different, “I think they’re two or three plays away from being 2-0,” he said to the media on a conference call on Wednesday. While Kubiak may be blowing smoke, he is not that far off. The Cowboys have had little problems moving the ball, but they just cannot get any points. A few plays here and there and the Cowboys story could be different, though many problems would still exist. Now it is up to the Boys to live up to the talent and high expectations that are on this team or the crown may shift in Texas.

Things To Watch

There are some great match-ups in this week’s game. One of the most intriguing will be Texans’ WR Andre Johnson on either Terrance Newman or Mike Jenkins. The Cowboys have a lot of confidence in their corners. They allow the Cowboys to play a lot of man-to-man coverages. After last week’s performance, coupled with sloppy tackling, Johnson has to be looking towards having a monster game. Johnson can out jump almost any defender in the league and he has incredible explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and great speed and quickness. He is your complete wideout. The Cowboys will need to shut him down if they have any hope of winning in this game.

Secondly, it will be interesting to see how the Texans deal with the Cowboys front seven. Linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer have been off to slow starts so far this year, but they are still applying a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. While Chicago figured it out last week, Wade Phillips will have this group flying around the ball and the quarterback.

Lastly, and most importantly, if the Cowboys are going to win, they need to overcome themselves. The biggest and most important matchup might be the Cowboys against themselves. If they eliminate minus plays (penalties) and turnovers this team can really put up some points.

If nothing else this game will be a shoot out! Look for the Cowboys to keep their season alive 38-35.

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