Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Texans & Cowboys

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For as fun and exhilarating as the Cowboys' thorough thumping of the Colts was on Sunday night, they do have bigger goals in mind. In turn, the Cowboys will turn the page to another AFC South opponent and their in-state neighbor down south in the struggling Houston Texans.

The 2022 season has been anything but kind to the Texans, who have lost seven straight games. After closing the tumultuous chapter of the Deshaun Watson era this offseason, all signs indicated that Houston would begin their full-blown rebuild. And as fate would have it, the Texans will enter Sunday off their latest loss… to Deshaun Watson and the Browns in his return from an 11-game suspension.

Let's get to the five storylines for both the Texans and Cowboys in Week 14.

Texans:

-      At 1-10-1 there aren't a lot of positives that the Texans can hang their hat on for the remainder of the season. However, rookie running back Dameon Pierce has been one of the few bright spots. The University of Florida alum has racked up 861 yards this season, good for eighth in the league. Against the Browns, Pierce tallied just 73 on the ground in the 27-14 loss.

-      After deciding to roll with second-year quarterback Davis Mills following an encouraging rookie season, the Texans decided to make a change to veteran Kyle Allen with Mills struggling. In two games since taking over, Allen has passed for 416 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions.

-      Outside of Pierce, the Texans have had quality production out of a handful of players who they might be without come Sunday. Rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., wide receiver Brandin Cooks (who the Cowboys reportedly tried to acquire at the trade deadline) and running back Rex Burkhead are all listed as questionable. Stingley has been a part of a sneaky underrated Texans' secondary along with rookie safety Jalen Pitre, while Cooks leads the team in receiving yards.

-      How good has the Houston secondary been this season for the defense? They rank near 13th in passing yards allowed this season. The bad news for the Texans is that they rank dead last in rushing yards allowed, something the Cowboys can take advantage of in a hurry.

-      Though they have a brief history playing against one another, the Cowboys own the series record over the Texans at 3-2. The two last met up in Houston during the 2018 season where the Texans got the last laugh in overtime and big games from the since departed Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. Of note, the Texans have never beaten the Cowboys in Dallas during their just two trips to DFW.

Cowboys:

-      We'll start with the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes before we get into the football news of the week for the Cowboys. Beckham did meet with the team on Monday and again on Tuesday, with owner/general manager Jerry Jones telling 105.3 The Fan that he would "not be confident at all" in signing Beckham without having him work out for the team as he comes off his second ACL tear. Jones also said he "enjoyed every minute" of his meeting with Beckham, whom he described as "smart as a whip." Let's see what comes out of Tuesday's talks, but this is a situation we will continue to monitor.

-      In football news, the Cowboys lost yet another cornerback in Sunday's win against the Colts, this time losing Anthony Brown with a ruptured Achilles. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Kelvin Joseph will get the first chance to fill the void due to his experience over rookie standout DaRon Bland and second-year man Nahshon Wright. Bland, filling in for Jourdan Lewis at the nickel spot, could be an option to slide outside as well. The Cowboys also have Kendall Sheffield on the practice squad.

-      It really is amazing what health and cohesion can do for a talented offense like the Cowboys. Over the last five games, the Cowboys are averaging nearly 40 points a game. Those points came against some pretty solid defenses too, including the Bears before the trade deadline, the Packers, Vikings, Giants and Colts. Between Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Tony Pollard, plus CeeDee Lamb and a surging Michael Gallup, the Texans will have their work cut out for them.

-      Outside of his OBJ-centric conversation on Tuesday, Jerry Jones said that Cowboys decision not to start Elliott on Sunday was not a demotion despite saying after the game it was a small disciplinary measure. It was the first time in Elliott's career he did not start when healthy, but nonetheless he paced the Cowboys' running game with 17 carries for 77 yards in a score. For Pollard, he racked up 91 yards on 12 carries and two scores. That duo has helped push the Cowboys to second in the league in rushing touchdowns.

-      Lastly, while the secondary has been hit with the injury bug this season, the Cowboys still rank second in the league in passing yards allowed this season. Trevon Diggs, while he hasn't quite intercepted passes at the rate he did last season, he has clearly become a shutdown perimeter option. The outstanding play of safeties Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson, who leads the team in tackles, has been a big boost to one of the best overall defenses in the league.

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