Cowboys vs. Texans: Which NFL Franchise Will Own Texas in 2012?
The Houston Texans owned Texas in 2011 after reaching the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs while the Dallas Cowboys would lose four of their last five games of the regular season to miss the playoffs. Each team will start with a clean slate in 2012 but who will own Texas this season?
The Texans started 2011 with a 7-3 record but were forced to start T.J. Yates at quarterback thereafter once Matt Schaub suffered a foot injury. Yates would take Houston into the playoffs, winning their Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals but losing in the Divisional Round to the Baltimore Ravens.
Dallas also started the season hot but ended up losing four of their final five regular season games and thus, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Both teams have made changes with the hope of dominating the state of Texas and ultimately winning a Super Bowl in 2012.
As long as Matt Schaub can stay healthy this season, it’s not really close as to who has the better offense. Schaub has turned into one of the best quarterbacks in all of football and really takes advantage of having Andre Johnson as one of his wideouts. Tony Romo had a career-year last season for the Cowboys, but despite playing well at the end of the season, he couldn’t lead his team to victory.
The running game also falls in favor of the Texans as the tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate clearly overpower DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. Murray will be one of the best running backs in the NFC but it’s unlikely that he out-runs Foster. Both Foster—who missed three games—and Tate finished with more rushing yards than Murray in 2011.
Dallas’ receivers and tight ends are actually more talented than those of Houston. I realize that the Texans still have a major X-factor in Andre Johnson but aside from him, who else do they have that will be an impact player? The Cowboys have two great receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant and also have Jason Witten at tight end. Any of those three players could have 1,000 receiving yards this year.
The battle of offensive lines is really a wash since neither team has a great starting five. Houston has Duane Brown and Chris Myers—two solid lineman—but Dallas also has some impact starters in veteran Doug Free and the young Tyron Smith.
Houston would easily have won the battle of defensive lines but the loss of Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills is a big one. That being said, I’m calling this fight a draw. Dallas has one of the best nose tackles in the game in Jay Ratliff but have many major factors beyond that. Houston has a very exciting, young talent in J.J. Watt but again, he’s really it besides Antonio Smith.
The Cowboys have one of the best linebackers in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware, but the Texans have the better set of linebackers. The trio of Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin really sets Houston up nicely for the future.
Houston also signed former Cowboy Bradie James to a contract that should provide more depth. Dallas’ Sean Lee—who took over for James—is a good compliment to Ware, but Anthony Spencer hasn’t played well which hurts the Cowboy defense.
Dallas made a major move at the 2011 NFL draft, trading up to select former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. The move was absolutely necessary since they decided to let Terrance Newman walk but they still have other good players in their secondary including Brandon Carr—who just signed a major extension—and Gerald Sensabaugh.
Houston doesn’t have the strongest of secondaries, by any means. Johnathan Joseph is a solid cornerback but Daniel Manning and Glover Quinn aren’t that special. Houston definitely could’ve upgraded at safety in the draft, but decided not to take anyone.
There’s a ton of pressure on Jason Garrett going into this season. If not even completely sure if he’s the head coach of Dallas by the end of the season. Rob Ryan will have another year at trying to keep opponents out of the end zone, having limited success last year.
Gary Kubiak is in a much safer position going into the year after winning the first postseason game in Houston history. He still will have to keep his players healthy if they want to stay atop the AFC North. Former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips did a phenomenal job with the Texans’ defense last season and will look to keep the pressure on.
Who Owns Texas?
If you’ve been keeping track, the score is 2-1 in favor of the Houston Texans. Here’s the kicker (not the position player).
Houston plays in the AFC South, a very winnable division that could fall into the lap of the Texans even if they don’t have an outstanding season. Dallas, on the other hand, plays in arguably the best division in the NFL.
Houston will get to play Indianapolis, Tennessee and Jacksonville twice each while Dallas will have to face Washington, Philadelphia and the Super Bowl Champion Giants twice. See what I’m talking about?
There’s a much greater chance before the season even starts that Houston will lock up a playoff spot.
Sorry Cowboys fans but Houston will be the team that wins Texas in 2012.
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