Dallas Cowboys: Week Five keys to victory, against Houston Texans

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after completing a pass against Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after completing a pass against Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys will square off against the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. Let’s take a look at the three keys to victory for Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys will head into Sunday Night Football looking to get above .500 as they visit the Houston Texans. Not a whole lot has been made of this rivalry in recent years as the two teams really have not had a lot of bad blood. This is a game that both the Texans and the Cowboys desperately need. So who comes out on top?

Let’s take a look at the three keys to victory for the Dallas Cowboys.

A fully loaded pass rush
The return of David Irving is somewhat bittersweet as the team placed Travis Frederick on IR to add the pass rusher back to the roster. While Frederick’s season (until the final three games…potentially) is over, Irving’s season is just beginning. He registered a sack in every game he played in but one last season and is looking to build off of that success.

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He also is in need of a long-term contract and Irving will have to ball out if he wants that to happen. Cowboys fans will finally get a look at the full strength of this pass rushing unit as this game will mark the first time all starters along the defensive line will be active.

They will be going up against a 29th ranked Texans offensive line that has not really played that well this season. The Texans can’t run block and the evidence of that has been in Lamar Millers poor play throughout the season. Miller cannot even get out of the backfield before being touched so this should work in the Dallas Cowboys favor as shutting down the run is the first step into cracking the Texans offense.

Realistically, success for Houston will come down to the arm of Deshaun Watson. The absolutely monstrous 2017 he had has been somewhat muffled by his up and down play this season. Watson has had some flashes of the brilliance he had last season but it has not been consistent, similar to one Dak Prescott.

Dak had a prolific 2016 but has struggled to find similar success since then. To put these two players into perspective, Watson scored 19 touchdowns and threw 8 picks in only six games before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Prescott registered 23 touchdowns to four interceptions during his best season.

The Texans are below average at pass blocking as well so Watson could struggle to find time in the pocket.   The Dallas Cowboys have not had their most elite season along the offensive line, however, the protection has been solid and Ezekiel Elliott has been finding holes.

Realistically the winner of this contest will be the team that can withstand the blitz better, and right now that looks like Dallas.

Run the football
In addition, to pass protection, run blocking is a big deal. A quality, run blocking offensive line will give any team the ability to set the pace and control the clock. The Texans have been notoriously bad at run blocking this season (trust me I have Lamar Miller in fantasy).

With D’Onta Foreman still on IR and Alfred Blue getting the change of pace duties there is really no solution here for Houston. The offensive line has to improve, that’s it, and that is seemingly something they cannot do in one season.

The Cowboys have been elite in stopping the run (when Sean Lee was on the field). Stopping Miller (who may not play due to injury) will be the key to clamping down on the Texans offense. Conversely, for Dallas, the talk of the town has to be Ezekiel Elliott who rushed for 240 yards last week against the Detroit Lions.

Sure it was somewhat of a nail biter but the Cowboys proved that they can win football games on the ground. If the Dallas Cowboys want to have success in this contest getting the ball to Elliott is a must. The Texans linebackers and safeties will struggle to bottle up Elliott if he gets into the secondary and typically that’s when he makes big plays happen.

Zeke should also be a factor in the passing game, but we will get to that in a second. This game will prove to be a lot less stress-inducing for Dallas if they can control the clock and grind down the Texans defense.

Cowboys wide receivers, who steps up?
Terrance Williams was just placed on IR which makes you think his time in Dallas has to be done. He has done nothing of note since the last time the Dallas Cowboys squared off with the Texans and made an incredible catch to move the chains.

This season has been a lost year for Williams and unfortunately for him, it just so happens to be a contract year as well. This thrusts rookie Michael Gallup, free agent acquisitions Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, right into the spotlight. The Dallas Cowboys also recently brought back Brice Butler however he did not have that big of a role last week when Williams was inactive.

He should be worked into the game plan more this week, however, I couldn’t imagine that translates to monstrous production. Gallup has shown flashes of being a star in this league, but he has to start putting together consistent productive performances. He needs to focus on running tight, crisp routes all the time and not getting lackadaisical with his footwork.

He also has to concentrate on finishing catches and high pointing the ball but realistically in a year, he could be the best receiver on this roster. Williams did not make an impact at all this season so I would expect that the Dallas Cowboys continue to spread the targets around and find receivers in favorable situations.

The Texans secondary is pretty awful so there is success to be had there, Cowboys receivers just have to make the plays. Elliott has also become a factor in the passing game as he had a ton of success against the Lions through the air.

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Expect Zeke to continue to be Dak’s safety blanket in this matchup.

  • Published on 10/06/2018 at 18:52 PM
  • Last updated at 10/06/2018 at 18:52 PM