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Texans vs Cowboys: Week 2 NFL preseason preview

The Houston Texans face the Dallas Cowboys for an in-state battle on the NFL’s Week 2 preseason schedule. While stars like Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson won’t play, there are intriguing matchups fans must watch during the Texans vs Cowboys clash.

Find out where the Texans and Cowboys land in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Texans vs Cowboys: What you need to know

  • The Cowboys host the Texans at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, August 21 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC13 and KTVT.
  • Sportsnaut says the Cowboys defeat the Texans, 24-20
  • Odds: The Cowboys are a 3.5-point favorite against the Texans with the over/under at 37

Let’s dive into an outlook of positional matchups to watch for the Texans vs Cowboys in-state battle.

Davis Mills vs Ben DiNucci

Texans vs Cowboys
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, the Texans know Watson isn’t playing for this franchise again. Tyrod Taylor is Houston’s starting quarterback, but the coaching staff already knows what he brings. The preseason is about getting an early look at rookies and this time is crucial for Mills.

There’s an intriguing quarterback storyline on the other side. Ben DiNucci, a seventh-round pick in 2020, is fighting for a spot. There’s a possibility Dallas doesn’t keep three quarterbacks on its roster, but the Prescott injury increases those odds slightly. So, DiNucci has something important to play for in Week 2.

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  • Mills Mulligan: While Mills threw for 112 yards on his NFL debut against the Green Bay Packers, there was nothing pretty about the performance. Completing 50% of 22 pass attempts, throwing an interception and posting a 46.0 passer rating against third-string players is ugly. He’ll face another challenge on Saturday and needs to show more to warrant consideration for a start in 2021.
  • Hard Knocks star: DiNucci caught the eye of the NFL world in 2020. He made one start against the Philadelphia Eagles, compiling 180 passing yards and 48 rushing yards. HBO’s cameras are following him, putting an even bigger spotlight on the 24-year-old quarterback. If he wants to make the roster, the turnovers need to stop.

Advantage: Davis Mills

Micah Parsons vs Texans’ offense

Texans vs Cowboys, Micah Parsons
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There’s plenty of criticism to lay on the Dallas Cowboys for taking an off-ball linebacker, not a huge need, over addressing a woeful secondary. But it’s also fair to recognize that Parsons is a phenomenal talent and we’re already seeing signs of it. Quite frankly, this Texans vs Cowboys matchup is just another opportunity to witness it.

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  • A Star is Born: If Parsons doesn’t sit out the 2020 college football season, he might be a top-five pick. This is a linebacker with the physical tools to be an All-Pro selection in his prime. Beat reports have called him the Cowboys’ defensive MVP and we expect it to carry over into his third preseason game.
  • Ground Battle: The Texans focused on quantity over quality in free agency. It created a position battle at running back between Mark Ingram, David Johnson, Rex Burkhead and Phillip Lindsay. With the offensive line the Texans’ lone strength, one of these running backs has a chance to make an impact.

Advantage: Micah Parsons

Texans’ secondary vs Cowboys’ wide receivers

Texans vs Cowboys, CeeDee Lamb
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve watched Hard Knocks for a few minutes or followed Cowboys’ training camp coverage, you’re aware of what is happening. CeeDee Lamb, the no. 17 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, is turning into a top wide receiver. On Saturday, he draws a matchup against a very weak Texans’ secondary.

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  • A New No. 1: Amid the rumors about Amari Cooper’s future and contract uncertainty for Michael Gallup, Lamb is creating his own headlines. The 6-foot-2 weapon is catching everything thrown in his direction at camp. He’ll draw coverage like a No. 1 receiver against Houston, creating one-on-one coverage for Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown.
  • Big Problems in Texas: Houston’s roster is the worst in the NFL and while cornerback isn’t the biggest problem, things aren’t great. Desmond King is a nickel corner, Bradley Roby can’t bring consistency and there is little depth behind them. Lacking depth and impact talent, the Texans’ secondary will be a problem all year.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

The bottom line: Preseason records mean nothing, but an 0-3 start is the last thing Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy want as training camp nears a conclusion. The atmosphere for the Texans vs Cowboys game should be electric for an exhibition match. Ultimately, Dallas holds the edge and records its first preseason victory.