As the NFL preseason comes to a close, bragging rights in the state of Texas will be on the line as the Dallas Cowboys pay a visit to the Houston Texans on Thursday night. The Texans are listed as 4-point favorites in the game with an over/under of 34.5 points.
The Cowboys will be hoping to avoid going winless during the preseason. They have suffered losses to the 49ers, Bengals, and Cardinals during the exhibition season. Dallas didn’t look half bad the first couple of weeks, but things got a little ugly last week against Arizona. The Cowboys committed eight turnovers, handing the Cardinals two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter and ultimately losing 27-3.
Houston, meanwhile, will be looking to secure a winning preseason record. The Texans knocked off both the Chiefs and 49ers in competitive games the first two weeks of the preseason. However, they fell to the Rams last week 21-20, eliminating any chance of traversing the preseason schedule undefeated.
Still No Starters
The biggest reason the Cowboys got blown out by the Cardinals last week, aside from the eight turnovers, was their lack of starters on the field in the most important preseason game. The team held Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott out of last week’s game for fear of injury and will do the same on Thursday. On top that, the Dallas offensive line is also banged up, so even if they wanted to play their starters up front, they couldn’t. That figures to be a problem against the Texans, even if they don’t give their starters much time.
The Cowboys are also trying to decide on their backup quarterback between Cooper Rush and Mike White. Both should see equal time against the Texans, and the fact that the Cowboys are still deciding between could mean that the two young quarterbacks are allowed to throw the ball. That could potentially sway the game in their favor, but only if the Cowboys can avoid the turnovers that plagued them last week. Both White and Rush have shown flashes, but again, ball security has been an issue as well.
What a Defense
The Houston defense appears to be coming into their own late in the preseason. The Texans were impressive with their starters on the field last week, even if their backups let the game get away. Obviously, the Texans will limit the time their starters play against the Cowboys. However, both Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt made their preseason debut last week. With an abbreviated preseason, the Texans may allow those two to get some extended action.
Houston will also be playing two experienced quarterbacks on Thursday. Brandon Weeden should get most of the snaps, as he lines up against his former team. The Texans are also deciding on whether they want to keep Joe Webb as a third quarterback, among his other skills. Webb should also see plenty of time at quarterback and have something to prove, so he could be dangerous against the Dallas backups.
This is a bit of a no-brainer for me. The Cowboys were dreadful last week, and it’ll likely be the same group of players on the field this week. The Texans should have no problem getting by with Weeden and Webb under center. Bet on the Texans covering the 4-point spread against Dallas on Thursday.