The Cowboys season has followed a distinct and oddly specific pattern through the first four weeks.
The Cowboys have lost road games against teams that featured dual-threat quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 3, and then won home games against teams that employed pocket passers in Weeks 2 and 4.
Next up, Dallas (2-2) goes on the road on an odd week to face the Houston Texans (1-3), who keep with the pattern as far as their quarterback goes. Last week, Texans QB Deshaun Watson passed for 375 yards and rushed for 41 with 3 total TDs in a 37-34 overtime victory at Indianapolis.
Dallas has been beaten by Carolina’s Cam Newton and Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett can see that Watson is just as dangerous as the Panthers’ and Seahawks’ QBs.
“What challenges you most about him is he can play well within the scheme and then when things break down,” Garrett said on Wednesday. “He extends plays and makes these game-changing plays. We’ve got to do a great job of containing him throughout this ball game.”
Houston even keeps up the Cowboys' pattern of this season in the motivation column. Dallas traveled to Carolina in the season-opener where the Panthers were eager to start with a win at home. The Cowboys then went to Seattle when the Seahawks were 0-2 and desperate for a victory. Anyone who knows anything about football in Texas knows that Houston fans, and presumably the Texans players and coaches, salivate at the chance to knock off the Cowboys.
Although the two teams are meeting for just the fifth time in the regular season, the game has meaning.
“I think it’s fun and interesting for everybody,” Garrett said. “Obviously football is so big in the state of Texas and these are the two teams that are playing pro football here in the state. We’ve got great respect for their organization, for their coaches and their players. That’s really what we’re focused on.”
Houston is a slight favorite according to Las Vegas, possibly because they’re playing at home. But it also might have a little to do with the fact that the Texans have the NFL’s fifth-ranked offense at this juncture of the season while the Cowboys come in ranked 25th in total offense so far.
It will be up to Dallas’s defense to level the playing field.
“Every time they break the huddle, they can attack you a lot of different ways,” Garrett said. “So we’ve got to be on the screws.”