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LORK 88
09-24-2010, 08:21 PM
http://torotimes.com/files/2010/07/Billy-Miller-Cowboys.jpg


After two weeks on the season, I think itís safe to say Houston isnít the team it used to be. In two weeks, they beat their division rivals that had a 1-15 record against and also showed the will and desire to win a game in which they were down by 17 points. None of these are characteristics of any of the old Houston teams. This week, they have the chance to go to an unprecedented 3-0 when they take on the Dallas Cowboys. For Dallas, the opposite can be said. Theyíve been in every game and had every chance to win, but it seems like one little mistake has prevented victory both times. This week they will look to right their season and get it moving in the correct direction against Houston. These two have already met in the preseason with Houston looking like the better and more aggressive team. Will that be the fate of their week 3 matchup or will Dallas get back on track?


Houstonís Running Game vs. Dallasí Run D: What a difference a year makes. 2 games into the season and Houston has the best rushing attack statistically. However, Dallas has a stingy run defense. It all starts up front with Dallas with Jay Ratliff, their pro bowl nose tackle. Heís got serious strength with the quickness of a three technique. He will cause center Chris Myers problems as Houston struggles with 3-4 teams; expect to see countless double teams. At DE Phillips will rotate Olshansky and Spears (both very balanced) with Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher (both better against the pass). On the inside of the 3-4 at linebacker in Bradie James and Keith Brooking; basically two thumpers who are tackling machines. If they go unblocked, they will terrorize the line of scrimmage. It will be up to guards Antoine Caldwell and Wade Smith to work with Chris Myers to get to them which luckily is the basis of the zone blocking scheme. The only other players worth noting for the run defense are Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer; the outside linebackers. Both will try to keep outside contain and disrupt at the line of scrimmage with tackles Rashad Butler and Eric Winston will do their best to wash them out of the plays. Based on the Cowboys run defense, Houston needs to go right off the tackles. Ware and Spencer need to be treated like Freeney and Mathis in that Houston needs to let them press up field. Arian Foster is a quick runner with great vision who will get the most yards possible on every play. It will be interesting to see if Dallas is able to contain him.

Houstonís Passing Game vs. Dallasí Pass D: This will probably be the best matchup overall as Dallas has a relentless pass rush while Houston has one the best passing games in the NFL. For Dallas, their strength lies in their pass rush and their corners. The big pass rush threat for Dallas is obviously at outside linebacker with Anthony Spencer and Demarcus Ware. Spencer is a great athlete but is still learning how to be a consistent threat on the pass rush. Ware on the other hand is an absolute beast and easily one of the best pass rushers in the NFL if not the best. Heís just so incredibly quick and knows how to use his hands well. This along with his amazing athleticism makes him a monster. Houstonís O Line will be for in a battle. RT Eric Winston should be able to battle Spencer, but first time LT starter Rashad Butler will have his hands full. Look for tight end help or running backs to help as much as possible. In the Cowboys secondary are corners Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman. Newman is a solid speed corner who needs better hands, but is more physical than his size indicates. Jenkins is a young up and comer who had a pro bowl season and a serious knack for making plays. Houston however has the best WR in the NFL in Andre Johnson who will have some good battles. Steady WR Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones will also get time in 3 WR sets and given time should be able to get open. Houston should be able to pass on Dallas, but it all depends on if they can keep Schaubís jersey clean. If not, it could be a long day for Houston.

Dallasí Running Game vs. Houstonís Run D: Dallasí run game is a bit of an anomaly; they have 3 starting caliber running backs Dallas always seems to bail on the run whenever the game gets going. The three running backs are Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice. Barber is the grinder of the group, easily the most physical. Jones is the home run threat. Heís the complete opposite of Barber; pure speed and if he gets to the edge it could spell disaster for Houston. Choice is probably my favorite out of the group just because of how balanced he is. Heís got good vision, is patient, and most importantly is balanced. He will see the least carries with Barber and Jones coming close to splitting 50/50. As far as the offensive line goes, the big plus is theyíve been playing together for years. They are also the complete opposite of the zone blocking scheme and use man on man pure strength. This should play into Houstonís strength as Houstonís defensive line is very strong up front. Both Mario Williams and Antonio Smith play the run great and are more physical than most expect. The only possible weak link could be Okoye who will have to rely on speed and quickness as he is pretty weak. With Demeco Ryans in the middle, the defensive ends should be able to play contain on the outside and not have to worry about pinching down. Houston needs to make sure they stop the run so they can focus all their attention on the pass. If not, the Cowboys offense could have a field day.

Dallasí Passing Game vs. Houstonís Pass D: Get ready for an air attack. While Dallas has a stable of starting caliber RBs, theyíve thrown the ball 99 times in 2 games (tops in the NFL by 13 passes). Under center is Tony Romo. Heís a gunslinger who loves going deep (constantly top 5 in 40+ yard completions) and has great pocket mobility. His receiving group is one of the tops in the NFL. At WR Dallas has Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Roy Williams, and Sam Hurd. Austin is a pro bowler and a complete receiver. He runs great routes, know how to get open, and can beat you in a multitude of ways. Bryant is a rookie and while heís still trying to get experience, heís a big play threat. Williams is the most inconsistent and sadly has the most experience; expect to see both on Sunday. As far as tight ends go, Witten is one of the best. He can spread the field and is a mismatch in the middle. As far as their offensive line, there really is no consistency as the starters havenít played together since training camp. For Houston, theyíve got to attack and get after Romo. Mario can have a big game, but someone else needs to step up because our secondary doesnít match up well with Dallasí passing attack well. Kareem Jackson will yet again have his hands free. Speaking of which, free safety Eugene Wilson needs to play deep and strong safety Bernard Pollard needs to be ready over the middle.


POSITION BATTLE
QB Advantage: HOUSTON
RB Advantage: DALLAS
WR Advantage: PUSH
TE Advantage: DALLAS
OL Advantage: HOUSTON
DL Advantage: PUSH
LB Advantage: DALLAS
CB Advantage: DALLAS
S Advantage: HOUSTON
K/P Advantage: HOUSTON
RET Advantage: PUSH


X-FACTOR: Mario Williams, DE

As much as it pains me to admit, Mario is once again our only serious pass rush threat as he already has 80% of the teamís sackís right now. One thing thatís been noticed about Dallas is they donít have solid play along the O Line yet, partially because of injury and also because the group has played together since the start of training camp. As our big pass rusher, Mario has a chance to alter the passing game for Dallas by making Romo make quick decisions and getting him rattled. Considering how bad our secondary is, we need Mario to have another big game and fluster Romo. If not, we could be looking at a QB torching us for 300+ yards again.


KEYS TO THE GAME

1) Hold Dallas to field goal attempts. Houstonís defense lives by the truism ďbend but donít breakĒ to begin with so this should be no problem. Obviously you want to hold any team to field goals instead of touchdowns, but more so Dallas because of their recent kicking woes. Kicker David Buehler has missed crucial kicks two weeks in a row and is on squarely on the chopping block. It may seem simple and thereís no guarantee that he continues his cold streak, but Iíd rather have him trying to win the game over Romo.

2) Prevent the deep pass. Our secondary got a few pass week 1 because it was Peyton Manning, but getting shredded for over 400 by McNabb and giving up 2 huge weeks is cause for concern. In addition, our secondary gave up 4 passes over 30 yards (2 over 60). If given the time, Tony Romo will go deep for the home run ball. We need to keep everything in front of us if we want to have a chance to win this game. Dallas has thrown the ball 99 times so far and weíve given up the most passing yards which is a recipe for disaster.

3) Keep Schaub upright. Dallas likes to bring pressure, almost to a fault. Last week, they flustered Jay Cutler early on to the point that he was ready to scramble as soon as he caught the snap. Last week for Houston they allowed 5 sacks against Washington; one of their highest totals in the past few years. Schaub did have a truly phenomenal game, but we canít let him get hit again and again against aggressive defenses. Dallas doesnít have the strongest safety play so if we want to expose that he will need time to go downfield.

kiwitexansfan
09-24-2010, 08:58 PM
I called it Cowboys barely.

I'm concerned about our pass defense vs. Austin, Bryant and Witten.

I'm concerned about Ware vs. Butler.

I'm concerned about Johnson's Ankle.

JB
09-24-2010, 09:11 PM
As always, very good Lork! I really enjoy your analysis. However, this week you have me confused with your take on the Dallas OL. On the one hand you are praising them for their continuity...

As far as the offensive line goes, the big plus is theyíve been playing together for years.


And then on the other, you are disparaging in regards to their inexperience...

As far as their offensive line, there really is no consistency as the starters havenít played together since training camp.


I think that one of the keys to the game will be the Dallass Ol. I'm just not sure what your take on them is...

Ryan
09-25-2010, 02:03 AM
I need to balance out all the hype we've been getting, i'll say Cowboys barely.

THE NFL
09-25-2010, 04:18 AM
I think what may turn the tide of this game is Dallas FG kicker. He is horrible.

If it comes down to a kicking battle... Houston wins. But that may also work against Houston. If the Cowboys keep going for TD's instead of taking the easy 3 points, it may hurt the Texans.

Tough game.. Dallas fighting for their life. They need it more than the Texans do.

axman40
09-25-2010, 02:16 PM
I like the Texans in a close game.
:fans:

Dutchrudder
09-25-2010, 04:49 PM
Texans by a mile. The Cowboys only got 20 points on the Bears at home last week. So long as our house is loud when they are on Offense, they will crumble like they did in the preseason. We all know Romo can't handle games in the clutch, and this whole game would be a clutch win for them, so I imagine Romo will throw like crap and get picked a few times.

drs23
09-25-2010, 04:52 PM
Lork,

Another spot on assessment. I'm picking the Texans barely. The K'boys are backed into a corner and know it. I see them trying to take advantage of our young secodary mixing a lot of screens, delays and draws to which we've shown suscecptibility. The secondary needs to bring their "A" game. The front 4 need to rattle Romo so his passes miss the target like we've seen the first 2 games as well as maintaining their lanes to slow down the running game. As others have mentioned we need Arian to find his groove early which will open up the #1 passing game. I see a mid scoring game with the Texas on top by 3-4.

Here's what one of the Dallas beat writers had to say: http://www.cowboys-forum.com/content.php?41-Week-Three-Preview-Dallas-t-Houston

beerlover
09-25-2010, 05:21 PM
Lork,

Another spot on assessment. I'm picking the Texans barely. The K'boys are backed into a corner and know it. I see them trying to take advantage of our young secodary mixing a lot of screens, delays and draws to which we've shown suscecptibility. The secondary needs to bring their "A" game. The front 4 need to rattle Romo so his passes miss the target like we've seen the first 2 games as well as maintaining their lanes to slow down the running game. As others have mentioned we need Arian to find his groove early which will open up the #1 passing game. I see a mid scoring game with the Texas on top by 3-4.

Here's what one of the Dallas beat writers had to say: http://www.cowboys-forum.com/content.php?41-Week-Three-Preview-Dallas-t-Houston

Bottom Line: I can't believe I'm saying this in Week Three but the Cowboys MUST WIN Sunday in order to salvage this season. Could you imagine seeing the Houston Texans playing in the Super Bowl in Jerryworld while the Cowboys watch? I shudder to think. This Cowboys team does make me proud though, despite the three-game losing streak, because from Romo to Witten, to Barber, Austin, Felix, Tash, Rat, Ware, Spencer, Brooking, Jenks and even to Beuhler this is a great, and I mean GREAT, group of high-character guys who won't accept mediocrity and will do whatever is within human capability to turn this thing around. I have faith they will. They're circling the wagons and putting the wheels back on with duck-tape and chewing gum, McGyver style, and they're gonna win Sunday!!!

COWBOYS 28

Texans 27


Yes, I can :barman:

Jeff S.
09-25-2010, 05:29 PM
The Cowboys only got 20 points on the Bears at home last week.

So you're saying the Cowboys can't just throw their roster out there on the field?

Lork's excellent detailed analysis got me a little worried, but Dutch made a good point: going down the line and analyzing man to man matchups might point one way, but the team has to go out there and play the game as a unit, and as we all know that can lead to different results.

I think the Texans have got that intangible thing going on. I'm still picking them in a close game. 3-0, baby!

Corrosion
09-25-2010, 07:41 PM
This picture was my avatar here on TT for several years - Think I may go back to it for this week.

http://torotimes.com/files/2010/07/Billy-Miller-Cowboys.jpg



Until I went with the "we're screwed 08" one when it became apparent that we were screwed either way with Obama nad McCain running for President.



I have one gripe / observation LORK -

Three games and three times you have given the edge at the TE position to the opposition .... Sure those teams have had good TE's but I dont think there is a better group of TE's top to bottom on any roster in the NFL than what the Texans have and a healthy OD is as good as any TE in the league.