THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys lose a heartbreaker in Houston; face Jags this week

Dak Prescott had a rough night in Houston. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys took a tough 19-16 overtime loss to their interstate rival Houston Texans Sunday night and this time the score does show that it was a close contest.

It was a back and forth game for its entirety and the teams ended with similar stats in all aspects of the game except for yards gained.  The Texans outgained the Cowboys by almost 200 yards (462 to 292).

The Dallas defense played extremely well whenever the Texans entered the red zone and only allowed one touchdown.  They stopped Houston three times when they had first and goal throughout the game.  The Cowboy linebackers were exceptional at containing the mobile Texans quarterback and held Deshaun Watson to 40 yards rushing.  The defense in all only sacked him once but hit him 10 times and slowed him down a bit by causing a chest injury. Watson was moving a lot slower than normal as the game went on.

The Cowboys offense was another story.  Quarterback Dak Prescott did pass for over 200 yards again but was sacked twice.  His final stat line was 18 of 29 for 208 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. NFL leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott was held to only 54 yards on 20 carries for a 2.7-yard per carry average.  The Texan defense locked in on him and never let him get anything going. Even when he lined up as a receiver the Texans were able to cover him up. With the Houston defense keyed on Zeke, someone else needed to step up.  The problem was nobody did. No other Cowboy other than Elliott caught more than three balls.

At the end of the night and even with all the offensive struggles, the Cowboys made a clutch drive late in the fourth quarter to score a game tying field goal to send the game to overtime.  In OT, Dallas took the opening drive to the Texan 42 yard line and had a crucial third and 1 play.  The Cowboys opted to run Elliott up the middle from a shotgun formation and he got stopped for no gain.  Head Coach Jason Garrett decided to punt the ball away and trust his defense. The difference in the game was that the Texans playmakers stepped up when it counted most and the Cowboy’s playmakers didn’t.  Texan superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins took a short pass and ran through multiple Cowboys defenders, which sealed the game.

A bright spot for the Cowboys is all other NFC East opponents lost as well.  This keeps in second place and one game behind the Washington Redskins.

3 Players to Watch

  1. Ezekiel Elliott (running back): Zeke stays No. 1 on the list because he needs to have a good game for the Cowboys to win.  He is the only playmaker on the team and needs to make something happen against a great Jaguar defense.

  2. Geoff Swaim (tight end): Swaim seems to have found a nice connection with Prescott and is his check down receiver whenever he gets in trouble.  He was the seconding leading receiver last week with three catches for 55 yards.

  3. Brett Maher (kicker): Has not missed a field goal since his first attempt in the NFL which was in Week 1.  He has made 11 straight and needs to keep it going as points are going to be hard to come by against Jacksonville.   

Coming Up (Week 6)

Sunday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) will be back at home to host the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) with the kickoff scheduled at 3:25 pm Central time.  

This should be a compelling matchup in which the Cowboys should have a good chance of winning.  The Jaguars are without their superstar running back Leonard Fournette and much like the Cowboys; don’t really have any big time playmakers on offense.  Points are going to come at premium and the team who plays the better defense will probably be the victor.

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

Cowboys:  Elliott. 

Jaguars:  T.J. Yeldon.

For you gamblers out there, the current line is Dallas +3 with an over/under of 40.5.  If you are going to play I think you would want to catch Dallas at a number over three and maybe take the under.  Both offenses tend to struggle and I don’t see both teams scoring 20 points.



 

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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