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Behind Enemy Lines: Texans at Cowboys

We visit with David Halprin of Blogging the Boys.

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Houston Texans carnival of fun travels to Dallas this Sunday to take on the cross-state rival Dallas Cowboys. The NFL schedule makers throw this one into the mix once every four years. The Texans have ironically gotten the better of the Cowboys more often than not in their history, but the Cowboys are favored by 17 points going in. We visited with David Halprin (@dave_halprin) of Blogging the Boys to get his opinion on the news and notes surrounding the game (author’s note: this interview was conducted on Tuesday so some news might have been broken before you see this article.)

Dak Prescott has put up impressive numbers in his career but has come up short in the playoffs so far. Do you see him as a franchise quarterback? What do you attribute those postseason struggles to?

Yes, Prescott is a franchise quarterback. A look at his overall numbers in his career leaves no doubt about how good he is on the field. Even a look at this year with the difference between the offensive numbers for the team when Cooper Rush was under center, and what they have been since Prescott has returned is a pretty definitive snapshot of how much better the team is when Prescott is playing.

As for the post-season, it’s really hard to say that the Cowboys’ struggles are solely on Prescott in most of those games. In their loss to Green Bay in 2016, Prescott threw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns and a 103 QB rating. In the loss to the Rams in 2018, he threw for 266 yards with a touchdown and a passer rating of 99. Now, he was pretty bad in the loss to the San Francisco 49ers last year, but overall it’s not necessarily a Prescott thing in the playoffs, it’s a team thing.

The NFC East is the best division in the NFL. Can the Cowboys catch the Eagles? How do you see the division shaking out in the end?

For a few weeks now we’ve been thinking that if the Eagles just drop one game, then the Cowboys can catch them with a win in their remaining game against the Eagles on Christmas Eve. The problem is the Eagles just keep on winning. So there isn’t much the Cowboys can do about catching Philadelphia unless they get some help from another team along the way. There is confidence that the Cowboys can win that remaining game against the Eagles, but it might be for naught if the Eagles don’t drop another game. The most likely outcome in the East in my mind is the Eagles winning the division, the Cowboys right behind, with the Commanders third and the Giants fading at the end.

Odell Beckham has been linked to the Cowboys. Do you see him signing in Dallas and if so what would he add to the offense that they don’t currently have?

The latest update we’re getting is that Odell Beckham may not even be ready to play a game until into the post-season. That’s a pretty risky gamble for a team to make, having a player make his debut in the most crucial games of the year. Prior to today, I thought Jerry Jones would really work to make this happen. But this update on his health, and some of Jones’ comments, make me think it might not happen. The Cowboys receiving corps has picked up the pace recently, especially with Dak Prescott back under center. They could use a third option with greater skill to push defenses both vertically and horizontally. CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup are a very good 1-2 punch, but after that it’s less certain. Tight end Dalton Schultz is a viable target, but more underneath and down the seams instead of a player that can stress defenses all over the field. OBJ could help with that, but if he’s not ready to play until the post-season he may not be able to do too much for the Cowboys this season.

Who are some players on offense and defense we may not have heard about but who have been particularly impressive this season?

On offense, the Cowboys are getting good contributions from a couple of rookie tight ends, Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. Dalton Schultz is still the number one guy there, but Ferguson and Hendershot really help blocking for the run game, so much so that the Cowboys run more 13 personnel than just about anyone. They can run or pass effectively from that formation because Ferguson and Hendershot can also make plays in the passing game.

On defense, there are a trio of rookie defenders who are making their mark. Cornerback DaRon Bland had to take over as the slot corner when Jourdan Lewis went down for the year and just this past game he had two interceptions. He’s been improving each week and isn’t a liability at all. Defensive end Sam Williams doesn’t get a lot of snaps because the Cowboys are so deep at the position, but when he is in there he makes splash plays just about every week. Linebacker Damone Clark just got on the field about a month ago after healing from an injury that kept him out for the season until then, but he is a sure tackler and is improving his reads each week.

The Cowboys are favored by 17 according to Draft Kings. That’s the highest number so far this season. Are you willing to give the points or are there any other bets you are comfortable recommending?

17 is such a large number in the NFL, it is almost never seen at this level. So it’s really hard to give those points because we see that any given week crazy things can happen in this league. Having said that, the Cowboys really seem to be hitting their stride now that Prescott is back on offense. Dallas is the highest scoring team in the league since Prescott’s return, and their defense has been elite all year long. With the Cowboys at home I would probably give those points, but just when the Cowboys are really doing well, they have been known to throw in a clunker game. I’ll take the Cowboys to win, but maybe by only 14 points or so.

We want to thank David for his time and attention to our questions. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game and want to wish David and the Cowboys the best of luck for the remainder of the season. If you want to get more information on the Cowboys, please feel free to visit our sister site at Blogging the Boys.