Texas Hold 'Em: Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys Have Higher Stakes Than Ever

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Texas Hold 'Em: Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys Have Higher Stakes Than Ever
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It was a mere eight years ago on a September night when the newly formed Houston Texans pulled a season-opening stunner over their in-state rival Dallas Cowboys 19-10.  Since then, however, the luck has been on the side of the silver and blue.

On Sunday afternoon, the tables may turn in dramatic fashion.

The script couldn't be better.  You have a Cowboys team that entered the season with Super Bowl expectations that are exacerbated because the Super Bowl will be held in Dallas this season. 

Tony Romo is lauded as the All-American quarterback, drawing in fans with his backwards hat style and boyish grin.  Miles Austin shines as the newest football Kardashian.  Dez Bryant walks with a swagger most rookies don't have. 

And there may never be a more player friendly coach than Wade Phillips.  Jerry Jones is one of the hardest working and most innovative owners in the sport; his new mammoth stadium hailing as the cathedral of gridiron glory.

Yet somehow, the Cowboys are 0-2.

Enter the Texans, who came into the league playing second fiddle to the Cowboys, desperately trying to re-energize locals who only knew football through the specs of the Oilers and their high-flying teams of the 1990's.

Houston, fair or not, has been given the harsh label of underachiever the past few seasons, and labeled as a team that can't finish games.  Fair or not, in the NFL perception is reality, and the reality is that the Texans have yet to make the playoffs despite having a talented core of offensive and defensive stars. 

Oh, and the Texans currently sit at 2-0 on the young season.

For the Gary Kubiak-led team, the basics of the past few seasons haven't changed.  Though Houston is still known largely as a passing team, they lead the league in rush yards per game.  In fact, they've had six runs of over 10 yards, more than any other team.  They also have zero run plays that went for negative yardage, ranking first in the category among the entire league. 

That's a testament to not only an impressive newly emerging running back in Arian Foster, but also in an underrated offensive line that has also allowed Matt Schaub plenty of time to throw downfield.

The intrigue of this game certainly reaches beyond the X's and O's.  Should Houston win, you can expect many to begin penciling the Texans into a playoff spot, initiating an already intense rivalry with AFC South rival Indianapolis, a team they polished off 34-24 in Week 1.

The Texans can slowly chip away at the favorite son status their Lone Star counterparts have held for so long.  The tide certainly wouldn't change overnight, but anyone seeking a new bandwagon would find room upon the Texans' ride.

On the flip side, should Dallas lose, the seat of Wade Phillips goes from hot to non-existent, especially with an upcoming bye week.  The criticism of poorly run practices and lackadaisical attitudes will force the Boys into a downward spiral that may just be impossible to come out of, at least for this season.  An opening week loss on the road to the rival Redskins was bad enough, but then losing their home opener to the Bears forced many to reconsider their NFC champion pick from the preseason.

And then if the Texans lose, it will be life back to normal.  Another team stacked with talent on both sides of the ball that has moments of brilliance, but are more than often just a team with potential that never gets realized.

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