Which team is in worse shape moving forward? The Cowboys or the Texans?

Both the Texans and Cowboys would like to forget the 2020 season. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We like to think of Texas as the center of the football universe. From Friday night lights to massive college programs to America's Team, Texas is football.

But a funny thing has happened on our way to football arrogance. The major college programs barely register a blip on the national radar anymore. UT is a mess, and A&M is stuck trying to deal with Alabama and a loaded SEC West every year.

And the pro teams are among the worst in football. The Cowboys are still in a lousy NFC East race, but their quarterback is done for the year, the defense is a joke and there is no real hope for the immediate future. It is a huge drop for a team that many considered a Super Bowl contender before the season. And the Texans' woes amid the aftermath and tenure of the worst GM in history, Bill O'Brien, are well chronicled.

How bad is it? Offensively, not so bad. The Cowboys are second in yards, the Texans 10th. In scoring, however, they are 18th and 22nd, respectively, and with Dak Prescott out, it only goes down from here for Dallas.

It's on defense where these two teams are truly awful. Dallas is last in points allowed, Houston 27th. In yards allowed, Houston is 30th and Dallas is 28th. Houston is 32 and Dallas 31 in interceptions.

So who has the better future heading into next season? Let's make a case for both:


The positives: Injuries have decimated the offensive line, once one of the best in the league. If they get Tyron Smith back next year and he is healthy, it makes a huge difference. They will need to make a decision on Dak, whether it is another franchise tag or a long term deal, but he should be back in 2021. They still have skilled weapons on offense in Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. Fixing the OL and getting Dak back should have this offense where it needs to be.

The negatives: The defense is a long way off from being fixed, however, and they will need to get creative with the cap to bring in any impact free agents. They are in line for a high draft pick, which should give them a shot at a solid player to add with Demarcus Lawrence, who is just 28 years old. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are still worth keeping. Aldon Smith has been a pleasant surprise after being out of the league since 2015. Everyone else on the unit, especially in the secondary, is a mess. You can't fix that in one year, but they can clean up some of it. Mike McCarthy may or may not be the guy at head coach, and he will have to look for another DC heading into next year.

The bottom line: With draft picks in hand and key players returning from injury, the Cowboys could easily get back on track in 2021.


The positives: They have two key positions locked up - quarterback and left tackle. Those are the hardest to fill, so there's that. They can also use a second day pick on a running back and improve instantly there. Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb are serviceable receivers. They are set at tackle with Tytus Howard manning the right side. With a new coach and a new scheme and a Will Fuller replacement, the offense should be pretty decent in 2021. They can clear significant cap space to add a few impact players by moving on from Nick Martin, Zach Fulton, Bernardick McKinney and David Johnson, all of whom are overpaid. And if Watt is gone, that is another $17.5 million. So there will be room to work with.

The negatives: The interior offensive line needs an overhaul. Max Scharping, a solid rookie last year, is nowhere to be found. Maybe a quality OL coach can get the best out of him, but they will still need two more players here and limited draft picks will mean dipping into free agency. The defense is much like the one in Dallas; in need of a complete overhaul. J.J. Watt might be traded; if not, who knows if he will even play in 2021? Bradley Roby is a plus corner. But Justin Reid has regressed, there are no other quality defensive backs on the roster, and they are hamstrung by awful contracts for underperforming players like Whitney Mercilus, Zach Cunningham and Eric Murray. Cutting any of them would be almost pointless based on their cap numbers. With no No. 1 pick, there is no help coming there, either. O'Brien left a massive mess that only a very shrewd GM will be able to fix quickly.

The bottom line: IF they hire the right coach and GM, a lot can be fixed in a hurry. But one of the co-orchestrators of the worst trade in NFL history - Jack Easterby - is still in the organization. If he has significant say, the Texans are in deep trouble. The big question is can Cal McNair make the right calls on coach and GM? If so, things will not be that bleak. If not? It could take years to recover from the Easterby/O'Brien mess.

So who is in worse shape? The Cowboys are clearly closer and have assets to improve. The Texans simply have too many question marks. So the pick here is that the Texans are in worse shape. What do you think?

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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