Cowboys fans should be slightly concerned by the visiting Texans Sunday, but they have the scheme and personnel to finish the week 4-1.
1. DeMarco Murray
No team in the National Football League has run for more yardage than the Cowboys this season, and they’re about to face a defense that doesn’t defend the run very well.
The Texans defense allows 5 yards per rush, which is tied for 6th worst, and they rank last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. Dallas runs best behind the left side of their offensive line, which is the area Houston defends well with J.J. Watt, but they shouldn’t have much trouble controlling the game on the ground.
If Houston lines up mostly in nickel, as they did last week against BUF, running backs DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle should have their biggest days yet.
2. Tony Romo’s Back…?
It was only one game against a team not very adept at forcing turnovers, but quarterback Tony Romo looked much more like his old self last Sunday.
If Romo is physically healthy and we can attribute his bad reads during the first few games to rust, the Cowboys might have the best offense in the NFL.
Teams will have to devote extra defenders to stop the Cowboys’ run game, so look for Romo to have several one-on-one situations downfield every game.
3. Houston Running Backs
Dallas’ patchwork defensive line has shown promise rushing the passer this season, yet they haven’t shown the ability to stack and shed against the run.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Houston’s rushing offense is awful, ranking 22nd in the NFL at 3.6 yards per rush. Their offensive line has played well this season, especially in pass protection, but the loss of running back Ben Tate and Arian Foster’s injury issues left them thin at the position.
The Texans spent most of the 2012 season with the best record in the league before picking first in the 2013 draft. They can give Dallas a good game if they play like they're capable, but the Cowboys shouldn't have trouble outscoring them Sunday.