dallas cowboysThe surprising Houston Texans try to close out a 4-0 preseason while the Dallas Cowboys search for depth at quarterback as the two inhabitants of the Lone Star State square off.

What: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, September 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Last Week/Next Week

The Cowboys lost to the Seattle Seahawks 27-17 last week to fall to 1-2 in the preseason. They open the regular season by hosting the New York Giants on Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET. The Texans are coming off a 34-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals last week to move to 3-0 in the preseason. Houston hosts the Chicago Bears a 1 p.m. next Sunday to start the season.

Dallas Cowboys Preview

The Cowboys are still reeling from the revelation on Monday that Tony Romo had suffered a broken bone in his back. The long-time starter will miss 6-8 weeks. That puts the onus of the offense on rookie Dak Prescott who was already wowing in the preseason when Romo got hurt.

“When Tony didn’t practice during training camp, Dak got a lot of time with the starters,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “He did a lot of the two-minute drills and showed us he could handle it.

“You can read a person’s demeanor, and he commands the huddle. It’s the way he calls the plays and the confidence he shows. It’s like he belongs.”

Running Game

The Cowboys are also more confident because their running game is in its best shape since DeMarco Murray’s prime.

“We hang our hat on our running game,” guard Zack Martin said. “Collectively we’re going to be more confident and do what we do best.”

The Cowboys will use two backs this year – former Redskins standout Alfred Morris and No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott.

With so many weapons – not leaving out Dez Bryant and  Jason Witten – the Cowboys plan to spread the field and go for the home run ball a lot.

We just have to excite ball plays with the players we have on the field,” Garrett said. “At times we did that, and at times we didn’t. We have to grow as coaches our players have to grow in that environment. Regardless of who’s in there we feel like we have to maintain the standard we have as an offensive football team and move the ball, score points and help our teams win.”

Houston Texans Preview

Brock Osweiler showed the talent that made him such a coveted free agent in the off-season. He torched the Arizona Cardinals defense in Houston’s 34-24 win on Sunday.

Head coach Bill O’Brien was originally skeptical of Osweiler but now appears sold.

I think one of the things that we’ve seen that, to me, has been very impressive and has to continue during the season is his command of the offense,” O’Brien said. “That has to continue to improve and it has to—we can’t take a step back with that—and I think that’s something that he does really well.”

Osweiler seems to be connecting well with rookie wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.  Offensive coordinator George Godsey said the bond with No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins is also expanding.

“There’s a communication that’s developed between them, and then there’s also the physical part of just throwing and expecting where the ball’s going to be vs. certain coverages,” Godsey said. “You certainly can’t walk into a meeting and just talk about it. They’ve got to do it, and they’ve been doing it.”

Osweiler said every relationship with every receiver is a day-by-day work in progress.

I’m learning the body language of each wide receiver with every single day, when he’s going to come out of his break, how he likes his football, where he likes his football,” Osweiler said. “Like I said, every single day we’re getting better. “I think the chemistry is getting better every single day. Whether we step on the practice field or we’re stepping on the game field, every single time that we’re together, running routes and throwing, our chemistry is growing. We’re getting better.”

The Texans’ defense continued to impress in the win over Arizona. John Simon who scored his second defensive touchdown of the preseason.  Simon bore down on Carson Palmer and blew up a screen pass, tipping the ball to himself and racing 59 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys Predictions

Even in the preseason, they take their football pretty seriously in Texas. This rivalry is usually good for a fight or two in the stands, if not such great action on the field.

Score prediction: Houston Texans 27, Dallas Cowboys 20