Thursday, August 29, 2013

Houston Texans vs Dallas Cowboys: HOU -2.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Houston opened as -3.5 point favorites at 5Dimes, but that was seen as too high and quickly bet down to -2.5. There hasn't been much movement since.  57% of bets are on the Cowboys so far, but I don't see any reason for money to come in on that side. 

Coaching

Jason Garrett has split his NFLX finales in his short coaching career.  Gary Kubiak has a pretty good overall preseason record, but he's just 3-4 in Week 4 games.  Not much really stands out for either coach, but what is worth noting is that this the Cowboys fifth preseason game due to the Hall of Fame Game.

Quarterbacks

Kyle Orton isn't expected to play much in this game, if at all. If he does see some time it will be your typical Kyle Orton performance. 4/6 for 46 yards and either an efficient scoring drive or awful interception. Through four games, he's 16/21 for 157 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

The real focus will be on Alex Tanney. He joined the team at the start of training camp without much expectations. He managed to play well enough to surpass Nick Stephens, who got cut when the team trimmed down to 75 players.

So far he's 23/42  for 246 with a touchdown and interception. He had a nice drive to finish out the Bengals last week and a good drive against the Cardinals too. The problem, like most inexperienced quarterbacks, is that he's had some really spotty play as well.  He's expected to get most of the action, if not all of it against the Texans.

The news is a whole light brighter for Houston. Like the Bengals, the Texans opened with two solid wins before falling short in the dress rehearsal games. Despite the loss last week, Yates and Keenum both looked good.

Keenum will be starting this game and playing the entire first half.  Through three games he is 34/50 for 354 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks.  Some are even playing up this game as a battle for the backup position, although that is a bit of a stretch. Instead, Keenum's strong play has ensured that he'll be on the roster when the final cuts are made. Keenum also grew up in Texas, so he's excited play well, prepare as the starter, and start the game.

In the second half, TJ Yates will close things out. He is 27/39 for 308 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He's been crisp and efficient in leading this offense.

Bottom Line

It's highly unlikely that there are many mysterious for Garrett to figure out. Since this is the fifth preseason game for the Cowboys, I'm sure he knows what he has on his roster. He's giving Tanney the opportunity to see what he can do, but I wouldn't be surprised if Garrett ran the ball a lot and went through the motions.

That's not to say that this is a more meaningful game for the Texans, because it's not. However, when you consider the QB mismatch and the fact that this is game 5 for Dallas, Houston is the logical play.

NFL Pick: HOU -2.5.