HOUSTON VS DALLAS PREVIEW By Brad Lorkovic (LORK 88) The Governor’s Cup; No, I’m not impersonating The Terminator, it’s the name of quite possibly the biggest game of Houston’s season. The Governor’s Cup has been in Houston’s possession ever since game 1 of are existence and it’s the one thing that can always quiet a Dallas fan if they ever get too arrogant or boastful. So far this season their off to a great start while we’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. However, Dallas does have their flaws that can be exploited. Plus as Houston fans, Dallas is our biggest rival. Do we have a repeat of the 2002 season and keep the cup or is Dallas too talented this year? By the way, this is my longest preview so please bare with me and don’t slack in reading it!! Houston’s Running Game vs. Dallas’ Run D: This part of the game will be a serious problem if we have Ron Dayne starting. Dallas hasn’t allowed a 100 yards rusher, had a 4 YPC rushing average, and we don’t have someone who’s done either. Their 3-4 defense is best against the run, and it all starts up front with Ferguson, Spears, and Canty. Ferguson is more of the run stuffer while Spears and Canty are a little more athletic. They still are more so used for hold up blockers, but can make athletic plays given the chance. In the middle, Ayodele and Brady are there to help stuff it. Ayodele is more of the run stuffer and the leader in tackles for the Cowboys. On the outside, Ellis is there serving as an additional DE as is DeMarcus Ware. Ware is better served as a pass rusher, but his speed commands respect in the running game because he can and will get across the field to make the play. To top it all off, Roy Williams is pretty much an additional LB because he tends to player closer to the line. This could be a problem seeing as how they have a total of 8 people who play the run well. Because of this, I could see counters and inside traps being effective in the middle if we Dayne can prove he’s not too slow. Should be a long day running the ball, but we must stick with it regardless just to keep their defense honest. Houston’s Passing Game vs. Dallas’ Pass D: This is our best shot at doing some damage to the Dallas Defense and is their weakness. However, one of their best strengths is their pass rush lead by DeMarcus Ware. To put it simply, he is incredibly fast and just breezes past LTs like its nothing. With Salaam our LT for the remainder of the season, it will be a huge challenge. The remainder of their pass rushing comes more from the outside with their DE’s Canty and Spears, and Greg Ellis who is playing more of an OLB position. In the secondary, Pat Watkins is their biggest weakness at FS. He bites on double moves and gets caught out of position. Their aren’t any serious playmaking DBs, but they do force pressure and cause mistakes. On offense, AJ and EMo are our best targets. AJ draws lots of attention and is becoming one of the best WRs in the NFL, but when too much pressure is drawn on him EMo can beat CBs for long gains. We don’t have any receiving threats at RB, but Daniels and Putzier are solid safety valves at TE. This will be our best bet at doing damage to this defense, but it will require time for Carr. Basically, our passing game is in the hands of our O Line. Dallas’ Rushing Game vs. Houston’s Run D: Dallas’ rushing game isn’t anything to be feared, but it is something that demands respect. Dallas has 3 RBs who can all do damage. Jones is traditional RB who gets most of his yards in between the tackles. Barber is the dual threat who does as much damage on screens and dump passes as he does on running plays. Lastly, theirs Tyson Thompson who’s the speed RB. Put it all together and you’ve got the 3rd best running game that has the most rushing TDs of any team. Their O line is on the bigger size and relies more on strength which actually might help us out better than in the past seeing as how nobody on our D Line is smaller than 285 (including DEs). Lucky for us, their RBs are known for breaking off huge runs. I can see our DEs doing a good job containing the outside runs, but I think our biggest problems will be the runs inside. Our D Line has been slacking this season and I doubt our woes stop this week. We need them to at least hold up the line so DeMeco can make plays and stops. Slowing the run down will be step 1 to slowing this offense down. Dallas’ Passing Game vs. Houston’s Pass D: Simply put, pressure Bledsoe. Theirs no simpler way to put this. It’s the main way to cause chaos and can slow down this offense. Their O Line is decent on the outside, but more vulnerable on the inside. In terms of threats, there are plenty. Glenn is their biggest threat along with TO, with Witten at TE. Fasano and Barber are also potential receiving threats depending on the formation. Bledsoe is the obvious weak link here and can be disrupted easily. The most effective way of throwing of Dallas’ passing game is inside stunts. Against Philly, they used these stunts with Darren Howard who is more of a bull rusher (remind you of anyone on our team?). Pressure usually came from the inside, but their right side of the line was susceptible to speed rushers. Because are DBs are playing bad this season, we need to rely more on pressure and bad throws than good coverage. This is the week DC Smith needs to get creative and let lose, particularly Mario on the inside stunt. Position Battle QB Advantage: HOUSTON RB Advantage: DALLAS WR Advantage: PUSH TE Advantage: DALLAS OL Advantage: DALLAS DL Advantage: DALLAS LB Advantage: DALLAS CB Advantage: DALLAS S Advantage: DALLAS K/P Advantage: PUSH Key Factors To The Game 1) Keep Carr off his back. We don’t need a relapse of last year when our entire offense was shut down because of inability to pass block for more than 2 seconds. This lead to shorter passes and the defense knowing it. We’ve got to block for him and give him time so he can continue to progress into the star QB so few of us want to admit he can be (I already know I'm going to catch flack for this statement!). 2) Blitz effectively!! I’m calling you out this week Richard Smith, get creative and sack the living hell out of Bledsoe. It’s the best way to create turnovers, stop drives, and create havoc in their offense. We’re coming off a week where we had 5 sacks against the team so we need to keep the trend going. 3) We’ve got to keep drives alive. We can’t have 3 and outs, we need to keep moving the ball steadily. 3rd downs are key and we need to quit getting ourselves into those 3rd down and long situations. This will keep drives longer and our horrid defense off the field. We also need to be able to stop them on 3rd down to help our offense. I’ve had this on here for the entire season and will until we start converting more 3rd downs.