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Eatman: Let's Get Dallas vs. Houston Every Year 


FRISCO, Texas – We could talk about the offense and how things still need to be cleaned up if this team wants to do anything special this year.

We could talk about this defense that continues to get sacks but can't get a turnover and might have bigger issues at safety than we thought.

Or we could take a step back from X's and O's and talk about where the Cowboys are going this week and who they are playing.

The Cowboys are traveling down south to Houston to take on their Lone Star rivals. It's a game that only counts once every four years. And each city only gets the game once every eight years.

That's right, the Cowboys played in Houston for the Texans inaugural game back in 2002. That's the one where Dallas was outright Hou-miliated by an expansion team in its first game. Then they played there again in 2010 and the Cowboys picked up their first win of the season.

But that's it – at least for regular season games.

Personally, and I've thought this for about a decade now, the NFL needs to figure out how to make this game more frequent. And it's not just Cowboys-Texans, but a lot of other geographical matchups that could make for good rivalry games as well.

So how does this happen? Well, it starts with the expanded schedule, something that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones publically lobbied for earlier this year, suggesting the league move from a 16 to an 18-game schedule.

Over the years, we've also heard about moving to a 17-game schedule, which would make it a little easier to bring this AFC-NFC rivalry game to life. The trick there is what happens with the preseason. Honestly, I don't think anything will change with the overall 20-game schedule. Whatever they add in the regular season will just be removed from the preseason. That being said, one team will have more home games than away games in the regular season, but one less in the preseason. It's doable, but makes more sense to keep it as an even number.

Either way, the NFL makes billions of dollars a year. They can figure it out. Just like they can figure out what to do with the other game on the schedule if it went to 18.

But one thing that needs to be done is creating some geographical rivalry games that are probably getting played anyway, they just don't count on the schedule.

The Cowboys and Texans have been on the preseason schedule for 10 of the last 15 years. And from 1967-96, Dallas and Houston played 30 straight years in the preseason.

They've called it things like the "Governor's Cup" and there has been a trophy passed back and forth. But it's still the preseason. It's still a game that doesn't really, really count.

Maybe it should.

Ever been to a college bowl game? Not one of those mid-December affairs played on a Tuesday afternoon, but one of the elite neutral-site games with great fan bases? It's an experience like no other. You've got fans from both sides who are so passionate about being there, it creates a level of excitement that is unmatched.

That kind of atmosphere will be in Dallas this weekend when Oklahoma and Texas play each other at the Cotton Bowl, and the stadium is literally split in half at the 50-yard line, with orange on one side and red on the other.

But that can happen because it's about a three-hour drive for each team in this series. It wouldn't work the same way if Texas and West Virginia wanted to have this type of game. It also wouldn't work if OU-Texas was simply a scrimmage every year.

Every workplace from Dallas to Houston likely has passionate fans for both teams. Imagine what that would generate around the entire state if the Cowboys and Texans regularly played in a meaningful game.

There's no way games like this wouldn't boost ratings. Plus, from a financial standpoint, there are lots of sponsorship dollars on the table every year. Games like this would only enhance the importance of marketing in your area, or in this case, the areas in between the cities.

And the rest of the league could follow suit. There are some natural rivalry games that make sense. Others are a bit of stretch, but this is what I came up with, trying to make it somewhat geographical and/or historical.

My proposed AFC-NFC rivalry games:

Dallas – Houston

Philadelphia – Pittsburgh

Washington – Baltimore

N.Y. Giants – N.Y. Jets

L.A. Rams – L.A. Chargers

Arizona – Kansas City

Seattle – Denver

San Francisco – Oakland

New Orleans – Tennessee

Carolina – Jacksonville

Tampa Bay – Miami

Atlanta – New England   

Chicago – Cleveland

Minnesota – Cincinnati

Green Bay – Indianapolis

Detroit – Buffalo

Ok, so I get that you could go either way in some of those Midwest cities. Chicago-Cleveland, Minnesota-Cincinnati, Green Bay-Indianapolis … all of those teams could be flipped around in my opinion.

Again, this is just one opinion. I'm sure other games make more sense, but you get the point.

Maybe other teams don't really need this as much. But for the Cowboys, who play six games a year against New York, Washington and Philadelphia, it doesn't really create much of a stomping-grounds battle when you're talking about teams thousands of miles away.

I'm a believer of "where there's smoke, there's fire." So I think the schedule will eventually jump to 18 games and some preseason games will be eliminated.

And when that happens, I think the league should look long and hard on giving every team another rivalry game.

It would just make too much sense, or cents, or perhaps both.