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Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans Point Spread - Pick

Dallas Cowboys (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, October 7, 2018 at 8:20PM EDT
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: DAL +3.5/HOU -3.5
Over/Under Total: 45

The Dallas Cowboys come to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys come into this game at 2-2, having just evened their record following a 26-24 win over Detroit when a FG with time running out saved the win. They look to keep the momentum moving forward against the Texans. On Sunday, Houston got their first win of the season in a drawn-out overtime road-battle against the Colts. They now look to breathe some wind into their sails this season with a big SNF home-win.

Houston hasn't started the season well. But with three road games in their first four games and all results being narrow, they're not a team one should feel comfortable writing off, either. They now get two games at home and look to make their mark, starting here in this spotlight game against Dallas. On Sunday, their defense didn't shine, with Andrew Luck putting up 464 yards and 40 completions. But they also saw QB Deshaun Watson starting to look like his former self with a big passing day of 375 yards, including a rushing TD. They ran the ball decently. And in addition to consistent DeAndre Hopkins having another big day, they saw other aerial contributors like Keke Coutee and Will Fuller, V. (questionable) also deliver.

Still, the Houston offense faces the kinds of issues that don't always go away. Indy is not the fiercest pass-rushing team, but still got to Watson seven times for sacks. Watson is over 1200 yards passing on the season, so it's not so bad. But their run-game doesn't always turn over. And for a QB that was injured and knocked out for the season, the lack of protection looms as a concern.

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The Houston defense has been a strength of the team in the recent past. But this season, there appears to be a chasm. Make no mistake, they still have a pretty acute playmaking component, with guys like JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and even some big plays coming from the secondary. And up-front, they are still pretty deep against the run. But against the pass, they are struggling and that part of the defense has been in a state of free-fall. Even with Tyrann Mathieu, the once-strong secondary with Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and Aaron Colvin hasn't been up-to-snuff. Now Colvin is out, so we'll see what they come up with moving forward.

Dallas has their own issues, needing late-game dramatics to beat the Lions at home last week. At 2-2, there are no real conclusions to be drawn yet. They have looked good in some areas, flat in others, with a general feeling of "eh." On offense, they are banking heavily on Ezekiel Elliott. And apparently, he isn't doing so well with ankle and knee issues. The Dallas aerial attack has either taken a big step back or they just need more time for certain pieces to congeal. There are some useful weapons on this offense, guys like Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, and others. But in terms of difference-makers, they're reduced to Elliott and if he's compromised, it's not that rosy of a scenario.

Despite the lack of consistent offense, the Dallas defense hasn't been too shabby. Guys like DeMarcus Lawrence can make a big difference. But not having Sean Lee in there has hurt. Maybe getting DT David Irving back will help. As a whole, they're allowing less than 20 points a game. But the last few games have seen them down-trending and the accumulation of different injuries are becoming a concern, particularly on a roster where losing star-power can't be withstood.

Not all is terrible. The Cowboys still have a good O-line, though it's lost some steam. It's still solidly above-average. Elliott might be the best back in the conference. And on a given game, he can take over. But a stripped-bare receiver crew with some offseason moves that may have fallen flat leave their offense a bit one-dimensional. Also as a result, QB Dak Prescott's upward trajectory has been stunted. And a defense that can't stay healthy could lead to more issues.

Still, there's a toss-up feel to this in-state matchup. The point spread of Houston -3.5 with the home-team usually getting a FG suggests a game where it's hard to take a hard position. Both teams have an element of formlessness to them. Either squad could play really well, really poorly, or anywhere in-between and no one would be terribly surprised. Dallas can run the ball better. Houston has more of aerial-flair. But they don't defend the pass well. And on and on an analysis like that goes---with contrasting info and nothing in which you can sink your teeth.

A different approach is called for in this matchup. And from perhaps a simplistic point-of-view, I just see the Texans as being the more-complete and intact football product. Elliott is listed as probable and will make an impact if he plays. But on both sides of the ball, I see Houston as being closer to who they're trying to be, thus making them the more bankable commodity in this matchup. I'm taking the Texans.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Houston Texans minus 3.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Dallas vs. Houston game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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