IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys can move one step further out of their .500 days of the past with a win this weekend against a Texans team that shares the same 3-1 record.
A win at home Sunday against the in-state rivals would take a lot of pressure off next week's tilt in Seattle. For that to happen, the Cowboys have to keep their focus after dominating the Saints a week ago.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner, Bryan Broaddus and David Helman.
Nick Eatman:We've seen the Cowboys win three games in a couple of different ways. We've seen them get out to an early lead and hang on for a double-digit win. We've seen them get down big and rally back. I think the
Cowboys win this game in another way. I can see a close game with the Texans for a while and then in the third quarter that's when they start to pull away because of their running game. I can also see Ryan Fitzpatrick make a few mistakes later in the game – let's be specific and call an interception by Barry Church – and the Cowboys are able to get a good, solid win. Rolando McClain will have his best game, leaving people to ask on Monday if Sean Lee can play on the weak-side when he returns. On offense, I can see an eight-catch game for Jason Witten but Dez will do Dez-like things. This is the kind of game that separates the Cowboys from recent years. Win it, and they've given themselves cushion to go to Seattle. Lose it, and they'll have a potential 3-3 record staring them in the face. But games like this – against teams like this, in months like this and in stadiums like this – typically go the Cowboys' way. I see no exceptions this week.
Rowan Kavner:DeMarco Murray's done it four straight weeks to start the season. There's no reason to believe he won't or can't make it five straight weeks with 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. Until a team stops him,
that has to be the expectation. Houston sits 21st in total defense and 22nd in total offense, yet the Texans have still found a way to get to 3-1. Despite those stats, I don't think the Cowboys are about to run away with this. The Texans don't have an elite offense, but they've got a very respectable defense led by arguably the best defender in the league. I think Dez Bryant goes off and Lance Dunbar scores his first touchdown of the year. The Cowboys win a close, low-scoring contest at home by less than a touchdown, taking the pressure off next week's trip to Seattle.
Bryan Broaddus: All offseason we heard from Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin about the importance of having an under tackle or three technique to make this 4-3 scheme really hum. When Henry Melton was signed there were those that believed he could be the missing piece. Melton has battled his way back from injury to be a nice rotational player but we are all still waiting on that dominate, disruptive one we saw with the Bears. Both Texans guards Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks struggle with quick movement. In studying Melton play these previous four weeks – it appears that his quickness is returning along with his confidence in his ability to really cut it loose on his rush. My gut feeling that we will see that Henry Melton of old for the first time this season and he will finish the game with two sacks of Ryan Fitzpatrick in a Cowboys victory.
David Helman:At the risk of sounding dramatic, this is a game that a team with postseason aspirations should win. The Cowboys are at home against the Texans – a team ranked No. 25 in run defense this season, which DeMarco Murray has to be happy about. The [embedded_ad] Cowboys have the better quarterback in this matchup, they have the better offensive line and their defense might be as healthy as it has been all season – even without Bruce Carter. The Texans are off to a hot start, but their offense has yet to look like a world-beater. Ryan Fitzpatrick is averaging 225 yards per game, and he has five interceptions. Arian Foster is coming off a hamstring injury that has hindered him for two weeks. I bet J.J. Watt will make two big plays, but it won't be enough. The Texans are not a bad team, but this is about as winnable a game as you could ask for in the NFL. If the Cowboys are for real, they should win. I'm thinking they will – something like 27-17.