Week 3 Prediction: Stars are Not Aligning for Cowboys at Houston

Arian Foster and the Texans are favored to send Dallas to an 0-3 record.

The Cowboys have won under more difficult circumstances than what they face at Houston on Sunday. However, it’s hard to trust that Dallas will do so this week against a Texans team that erased a 17-point deficit to beat Washington last week. Although a few are predicting a Dallas win, the Cowboys just haven’t shown enough for the majority to think that this is the week for that first victory.

Dallas then welcomes the bye week. Even if you name were mud, you would still be doing better than if your name was Wade.

Odds: Houston Favored by Three

NFL betting lines have the Texans favored by three points. This is the first time this year that Dallas has been an underdog. From BetUS.com:

Those who cast their lot against the NFL betting lines are licking their lips as they anticipate a meeting between the unbeaten Houston Texans and the winless Dallas Cowboys in what is legitimately a “Lone Star Showdown” that is slated to begin at 1 PM ET on Sunday at Reliant Stadium (natural turf) in Houston.

ESPN: Edge to Houston

Surprisingly, four of the eight commentators who make expert picks selected Dallas to win on Sunday.Last week’s leader, Chris Mortensen, took Dallas this week. However, Mark Schlereth has been the most accurate of the group this year, and he took Houston. As for the four on Sunday Countdown, three took Houston. Cris Carter was the only one who picked Dallas.

ESPN SportsNation: 77.3% Pick Houston

With more than 21,000 votes in, the vast majority on ESPN SportsNation predicted a Houston win.

AccuScore: Houston 27, Dallas 24

The simulations at AccuScore haven’t been entirely reliable so far, but for what their worth, Houston has the edge on Sunday.

AccuScore is forecasting a close game with the Dallas Cowboys winning 41% of simulations, and the Houston Texans 58% of simulations. In close games, turnover margin is especially important. The Dallas Cowboys commit fewer turnovers in 37% of simulations and they go on to win 70% when they take care of the ball. The Houston Texans wins 76% of the simulations in which they commit fewer turnovers. Tony Romo is averaging 279 passing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average passing yards and at least a 2 to 1 TD to INT ratio (39% chance) then he helps his team win 47%. Matt Schaub is averaging 278 passing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average passing yards and at least a 2 to 1 TD to INT ratio (38% chance) then he helps his team win 59%.

WhatIfSports: Houston 27, Dallas 23

Houston won 59.5% of the simulations against Dallas this week by an average score of 27-23.

(As a side note, I am not sure how a simulation engine can have much validity when it is only 50% accurate. My daughter could pick games according to her favorite colors and be just as accurate. But anyway…)

Madden Simulation: Houston 20, Dallas 16

The Cowboys had a tough time stopping Arian Foster and the Houston offense in a 20-16 Texan win, according to the Madden Simulation on ESPN.

What would be the bigger surprise — the Texans starting the season 3-0 or the Cowboys starting 0-3? Well, according to “Madden,” it looks like the unthinkable just might happen and both of those scenarios will come true thanks to Houston beating Dallas, 20-16.

My Guess (0-2 this season)

My prediction last week:

This week, I think the Cowboys start strong but then stall. Chicago, however, will not be able to close the gap, and the Cowboys hold on to a 14-0 lead for much of the game. Dallas relies on three field goals in the second half, while the Bears only manage three points.

I got the 14 points right as far as the first-half output, and I also predicted that the Cowboys would stall. However, I had too much faith in the Dallas defense, which could not stop the Bears when the team needed it.

I don’t have much confidence in the Cowboys heading into this week. We’ve read about he players-only meeting, Wade promising changes, Jerry promising not to fire Wade, etc.  Where was the concern in August?

I think the Cowboys fall behind early and have to scratch and claw their way back into the contest. Houston will hold a 14-3 lead at the half, but Dallas storms back to take a 17-14 advantage in the fourth quarter. Houston regroups, and two Neil Rackers field goals in the final four minutes gives Houston the win.

Final score: Houston 20, Dallas 17

I don’t think merciless quite describes how the fan base will react towards the Cowboys brain trust if we see an L on Sunday.


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