This rivalry sounds better than it plays out as Dallas has made this one-sided. The Texans would win their first meeting in 2002, which would also be their first ever win as a franchise. Houston defeated Dallas 19-10 despite being outgained in total yards and having quarterback David Carr sacked six times.
Their next three meetings all went the way of Dallas. The Cowboys would exact revenge and blow out the Texans 34-6 at the Texas Stadium in 2006. They would return to Houston to defeat the Texans 27-13 in 2010 and their last meeting in 2014 was a close 20-17 overtime victory.
Dallas and Houston are again set to meet this regular season in what should be a high-profile game, especially if both teams are winning. Both the Cowboys and Texans have young offensive stars and are considered playoff contenders.
Since their core is young, both teams should be evenly matched moving forward. The two games this season should serve as an appetizer on what could be a tasty inter-state rivalry.
Dallas Cowboys Recent History
The Cowboys are one of a few NFL franchises that can boast about having a dynasty in two separate decades. The first came under the tutelage of the legendary Tom Landry. Dallas’s inaugural coach reinvented NFL defences and raised the ’70s dynasty that won over ten division championships and captured two Super Bowls in five appearances.
The franchise shifted during the 1989 season following Landry’s departure and Jerry Jones’s purchase of the team. The Cowboys would suffer a franchise-worst 1-15 record, but blossom into the ’90s dynasty that gave rise to the moniker “America’s Team”. Dallas won three Super Bowls and captured five straight division titles from 1992 to 1996.
This would be the peak of the franchise as Dallas has struggled in the last 20 years. They have only two playoff wins and four division titles while having the third-longest NFC Championship appearance drought behind Washington and Detroit at 22 seasons.
Houston Texans Recent History
As the NFL’s youngest franchise, the Texans haven’t done so badly. As of 2017, they have had an equal amount of non-losing seasons with losing seasons although their overall record is still among the worst in the NFL. Most of this is attributed to their first five seasons where they lost 10 or more games four times.
Following Gary Kubiak’s second year, things began to look better. Houston had their first winning season in 2009 then finally made the playoffs in 2011 also winning their division for the first time. They would repeat the feat in 2012 and set a franchise-best 12-4 record advancing to the divisional round again.
But the franchise would be set back with injuries the year after and tied their franchise-worst with a 2-14 record prompting a coaching change. Now under Bill O’Brien, the Texans have remained a winning team for the most part and now having found a promising quarterback, the best years are just ahead of them.
Dallas Cowboys Outlook
The things that made Dallas great in 2016 were absent for the most part in 2017 and that was an invincible offensive line and Lee leading the defence. Dallas has worked to fix the o-line taking Connor Williams in the second-round while two-time All-Pro Tyron Smith looks to stay healthy at tackle.
Lee is invaluable as the heart-and-soul of the defence. In games he didn’t play, the defence collapsed. Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch to fill another hole at linebacker but if Lee is bound to get hurt and Dallas lacks depth on defence to make up for it.
On offence, Dallas signed Allen Hurns and drafted Michael Gallup to help make up for the loss of Dez Bryant. While they are decent, the Cowboys will still be without a true number-one receiver not to mention no elite pass-catching tight end. Dallas regressed in 2017 and they just got worse in 2018. It could be a long season in the Big D.
Houston Texans Outlook
The jury is still out on whether Watson is “forreal” or if his brief stint as a record-setting quarterback was because of how new he was. He is coming back from an ACL injury and will have better-prepped opponents on top of having one of the thinnest offences around him, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins notwithstanding.
Fortunately, Houston has arguably the best defence in the AFC. From their front-seven to their secondary, Houston has superstars on all units. Watt will lead the charge up front although there are concerns as he has been injury-prone his previous two seasons. Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are two of the best edge rushers at linebacker.
And the secondary got a boost by adding Tyrann Mathieu at safety. Johnathan Joseph is getting old but is still a capable corner. But beyond the aforementioned stars, Houston is a bit lacking. If injuries are to hit this team again, a losing season will be almost inevitable.
Houston is the superior team up-front. Their defence is monstrous and if the starters get enough reps, they should wreak havoc on Dallas. But it will most likely be a battle between the backup units and Houston is thin on that department.
Brandon Weeden is a solid backup, but he’ll be handicapped playing behind a weak line. Either Alfred Blue or D’Onta Foreman could emerge as the team’s lead running back so they should play hungry. And on defence, Houston lacks depth even at linebacker.
Dallas isn’t significantly better, especially when it comes to the first teams. Prescott will get reps but his receivers are limited and it’s unclear how often Zeke will play. The veteran defence will also have a small snap count.
For their second unit, Cooper Rush or fifth-round pick Mike White will battle it out. There are still a few spots left open, especially at wide receiver and this will create the competitiveness that will push Dallas over Houston.