Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#271 Houston Texans vs.
#272 Dallas Cowboys
Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 7:00pm EDT
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s an interconference clash on the gridiron in the battle of the Lone Star State in week 3 preseason action from the NFL. The Houston Texans make the trip on the road as they travel to face the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night. Houston earned a 30-23 home win over the Lions last Saturday night in week 2 to even their preseason mark. Dallas battled to pick up a 14-10 victory over the Rams in a game played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu Saturday night. The teams have met five times in the regular season with Dallas owning a 3-2 edge: Houston earned a 19-16 home win in the last matchup on October 7, 2018.

Houston Texans Figuring Things Out Without Clowney

Houston bounced back from a two-point loss on the road in Green Bay to open the preseason as they dropped the Lions at home last week. The Texans moved the ball 75 yards in 11 plays on Deshaun Watson’s and the majority of the starters lone drive in the contest, capped by a four-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Houston was up 10-0 after the opening quarter only to see the Lions tie the game: Joe Webb III’s 31-yard scoring pass to Vyncint Smith with 40 seconds to play in the half gave them a 17-10 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Texans held a 410-388 edge in total yards, picked up 22 first downs to Detroit’s 18 and controlled the time of possession by a 34:54 to 25:06 margin. Both teams turned the ball over twice with Houston giving up a defensive score on a fumble return.

Watson should get more run in this game as the team tunes up for the regular season: he’s five of seven for 61 yards and a score in the preseason. With AJ McCarron still injured, that has given Joe Webb III (39 of 65, 472 yards, two TD, three INT, 59 rushing yards) a chance to establish himself as the potential backup QB. With Lamar Miller and Duke Johnson Jr. not getting any action so far, Greg Howell (15 carries, 84 yards, TD) has led the team on the ground while Damarea Crockett (15 carries, 56 yards, TD) and Karan Higdon (15 carries, 50 yards) are trying to earn a spot on the depth chart. In the passing game, Steven Mitchell (six receptions, 55 yards) leads the team while tight end Jerell Adams (five grabs, 50 yards, TD) is right behind him. The Texans are evaluating talent at the receiver spots with Keke Coutee out with an injury: someone has to step up to potentially fill the slot receiver role alongside Hopkins and Will Fuller V in the three-wide set for the team. Ka’imi Fairbairn has hit five of six extra points and all five of his field-goal tries with a long of 50 on the preseason. Houston is figuring things out defensively as former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney has not reported to the team after he was given the franchise tag in the offseason. There are reports he could be traded but in the interim, Brennan Scarlett has been filling in for him.

Watson could see more time in Game 3.

“Every chance you get to play and step on that field is very important,” Watson said. “It’s more reps, so more reps is more experience, and more experience is more confidence and more opportunities for you to improve and get better, and get ready for the real action.”

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Dallas Cowboys Hoping to Get Up to Speed

Dallas picked up the win over a Rams team that left most of their starters back on the mainland Saturday night. The Cowboys chewed up 6:28 off the clock in their opening drive, which was Dak Prescott’s lone drive of the night. They went 97 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 14-yard TD run by Tony Pollard: Prescott was five of five for 64 yards before taking a seat. Dallas was outgained 270-251 in the contest despite a 20-14 edge in first downs and held a 30:58 to 29:02 advantage in time of possession. Both teams turned the ball over twice: Cooper Rush’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 1:50 to play in the third quarter gave Dallas the 14-10 edge that ended up being the final score. The big news from the weekend was that the agent of holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott was upset with Jerry Jones’ quip about “Zeke who?” when asked about his status.

Prescott has hit all nine of his throws in the preseason for 87 yards and will see extended time in this contest. The battle for the #2 spot is going to be between Cooper Rush (26 of 42, 225 yards, TD) and Mike White (16 of 33, 117 yards, INT) with Rush likely holding the upper hand in that clash right now. Should Elliott not report, Alfred Morris (three carries, six yards) would likely be the #1 back though Pollard (nine carries, team-high 58 yards, TD), Mike Weber (12 carries, 30 yards) and Jordan Chunn (six carries, 22 yards) along with Darius Jackson (nine carries, 21 yards) are battling for a spot. Smith leads the team with six catches for 78 yards and a score in the passing game as he tries to earn a spot in the mix. Michael Gallup (three receptions, 50 yards) is stepping up with Amari Cooper dealing with a heel strain. Brett Maher has hit both extra-point attempts but is only three of five on field goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.

Update (8/22): Dallas has reportedly offered Elliott something similar to a four-year deal that Le’Veon Bell signed for $52.5 million with $35 million guaranteed. That’s about $10 million less than what Todd Gurley (tops in the league for RBs) is getting in guaranteed money. But according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Elliott wants at minimum, the second-highest deal for running backs in the NFL.

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Dallas has struggled to generate much offense so far in the preseason as they totaled only nine points against the 49ers before getting 14 against the Rams. Without Elliott and potentially Cooper in this one, it will be interesting to see how things shake out offensively for Dallas. Morris is the likely feature back until Elliott returns but he could be pushed. The passing game is going to need some help, which means tight end Jason Witten, along with Gallup, are going to have to be factors. Houston has the weapons on the offensive side of the ball and we’ve seen them put up some hefty point totals in the first two games of the preseason. Look for the Texans to come up with a win as the Cowboys sputter offensively.

Prediction: Houston Texans ‘Em

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Houston has clearly been the more effective team on the offensive side of the ball of these two teams so far in the preseason. The Texans have racked up 56 points in their first two games while Dallas has totaled a measly 23 points to date. As a matter of fact, Houston has put up more points in each of their games than Dallas has put up total in their opening two games of the preseason. The starters for both sides likely will play at least a half, giving their respective coaching staffs a chance to evaluate who will be slotted into potential roles. Will Prescott help jumpstart the Cowboys offensively in this one or will they continue to sputter?

The under is 4-1 in the Texans’ last 5 games on fieldturf. In each of the five previous meetings, the teams have ended up under the number. With Dallas struggling to generate much offense in the first two games of the preseason, you have to think that this one ends up under the total as well when the final gun sounds.

Prediction: Under 40.5

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Houston’s ability to move the ball and generate points has been a revelation as Webb III, a journeyman who has spent a lot of time at receiver, has done a stellar job as the main QB in both preseason games. Watson helped the Texans go right down the field in his lone drive against the Lions and there are plenty of capable options for him to work with in the passing game. Dallas is struggling to move the ball and with the team potentially minus two of their key options offensively, this one is going to test the Cowboys. Look for the Texans to have the lead at the half.

Prediction: Houston Texans

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Houston has been effective moving the ball and finishing drives with points on the board. The Texans have had a pretty even split of their point total by half as they have 27 first-half points compared to 29 second half points on the board. Houston trailed Green Bay 14-10 at the half and led Detroit 17-10. On the flip side, Dallas has scored 16 of their 23 points in the first half. The Cowboys have only one first-half touchdown on the board in their two preseason games to go with three field goals. It’s hard to see Dallas racking up a ton of offense, which helps keep this one under the total at the half.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.