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Cowboys vs. Texans | Week 14 Preview

Sports

Dak Prescott lines up opposite the Houston Texans defense. | Photo credit to Cooper Neill by Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys host in-state rivals the Houston Texans on Sunday in the latest Governor’s Cup game. The two teams have not met in the regular season since 2018 when Houston defeated Dallas 19-16 in overtime. Dallas holds an overall lead in the series with three wins and two losses dating to the first meeting between the teams in 2002.

The rivalry between the teams dates back to 1965 when Houston was represented by the Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans. At the time, the AFL and the NFL were separate leagues. Both teams drafted the same player and as part of the settlement, began playing preseason games. The first meeting between the teams in the regular season was in 1970.

The current rivalry between the Cowboys and the Texans includes 12 preseason matches. Two additional preseason games have been canceled, one because of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the other in 2020 during the COVID pandemic.

The Cowboys will enter the game riding high on a massive win over the Indianapolis Colts and holding a 9-3 record, two games behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas has seen an offensive explosion since the return of quarterback Dak Prescott and the emergence of a two-headed threat in the backfield in Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott.

Last week, Pollard got the start over Elliott, but both backs ended up largely splitting the carries, a tactic that is likely to continue against Houston. Pollard had more yards in the game, wrapping up with 91, but Elliott carried more often, carrying 17 times to Pollard’s 12 touches. Pollard had two touchdowns to Elliott’s one.

Houston is having one of those seasons where nothing seems to go right. From the opening day tie with Indy to the lone win way back in Week 5, the Texans are already looking to next season. Their record is 1-10-1, and they have a stacked remaining schedule that will see the team face Dallas, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tennessee Titans—all teams looking to wrap up playoff berths in the coming weeks.

The Texans continue to hope that Davis Mills is the answer at quarterback after the team moved on from Deshaun Watson amid allegations of sexual assault by more than 20 massage therapists. Watson is now in Cleveland, and the Browns defeated the Texans last week. The game was Watson’s first in two years.

ESPN Analytics gives the Cowboys their highest likelihood of victory yet this season—a 94.8% chance that is even higher than the 90% chance the team had over the Colts before last week’s game. Dallas scored 33 points in the fourth quarter against the Colts to set a franchise scoring record with scores coming on both offense and defense. The Texans’ 15.7 points per game and a leaky defense that allows 170 rushing yards per game will be hard-pressed to slow down Pollard and Elliott while also keeping a lid on receiver CeeDee Lamb, who has fully emerged as a top receiver for the Cowboys.

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