THE COWBOYS REPORT

Enough with the prep; Cowboys ready for Giants in Week 1

Zeke Elliot. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys lost their preseason finale to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the score of 17-15.

Ending preseason

With almost all of their starters and 2nd string players enjoying the game from the sidelines, there wasn't much of any importance going on. Both teams allowed their key players to take one final week off before the start of the regular season on Sept. 8.

Rookie Quarterback Taryn Christion from South Dakota State played the majority of the second half and led the Cowboys to their only offensive touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter. He finished the game 11/17 for 142 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. Christion also ran 5 times for 22 yards.

Most importantly is that the 2018 NFL leading rusher and superstar Ezekiel Elliott has finally agreed to a new deal with the Cowboys that will make him the highest paid running back ever. The 6 year $90 million contract extension comes with a $50 million guarantee. Not only are Cowboy fans rejoicing, but fantasy owners everywhere are taking a huge sigh of relief.

With the preseason in the books, Dallas looks primed for a deep playoff run this year.

3 things to watch for 

1.Running backs (Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard): It will be interesting to see what kind of shape and condition Zeke is in as he had spent his entire time away from the team in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. No. 2 RB Tony Pollard could have a bigger role to play this Sunday as Zeke tries to get into game shape.

2.Linebackers (Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith): These 2 upcoming superstars are going to have their hands full as they try to contain one of the NFL's best running backs Saquon Barkley.

3.Tight End Jason Witten: With the future Hall of Famer leaving the announcing booth and rejoining the team, there is much intrigue to see how much he can contribute to an already potent offense.

Coming Up

The Cowboys (0-0) are starting off the 2019 regular season by taking on the New York Giants (0-0) at home in AT&T Stadium on Sunday September 8th at 3:25 pm Central time. The Giants don't look to be a good team this year as they are in a rebuilding mode. They traded away their best receiver this past offseason and now are only left with one offensive weapon in Saquon Barkely. The Cowboys defense should be able to stop him and come away with an easy victory.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)

Giants: Saquon Barkley (RB)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are -7 and the over/under is 45. Seven points are a lot to give for any team so the only way I would play it is the number drops below seven. As for the total, I don't have a good read because I don't think New York can score much.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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