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Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans preview: Oct. 7, 2018

Do the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have a rivalry?

Sure, the cities do, but is there enough history between the franchises to really constitute a legitimate rivalry?

Probably not. For one, the teams haven’t been good at the same time since the Texans joined the league in 2002. The only time the teams have played when they both finished with a winning record was the last meeting in 2014. Houston finished 9-7 and Dallas finished 12-4.

“Houston is one of my favorite places. Houston citizens are some of my favorite folks,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on KRLD/105.3 The Fan.

Jones was one of Texans owner Bob McNair’s biggest supporters when he secured a new team to replace the Oilers, who had moved to Tennessee after the 1996 season.

“I did everything I could do to get a team back in Houston,” Jones said.

He even allowed McNair to use the name Texans, which Jones owned the rights to with thoughts of using it for a potential arena league team.

Five things to watch when the Cowboys and Texans square off Sunday night:

1. Slowing Watt and Clowney

To beat the Texans, your offense has to handle defensive end J.J. Watt and defensive end/linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. They’re both elite players coming off strong games last week when they each had two sacks. The Cowboys are likely to use Ezekiel Elliott and perhaps Dak Prescott more on the ground to neutralize Watt and Clowney.

2. Irving’s return

Defensive end David Irving is expected to play for the first time after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He practiced on Wednesday but missed Thursday and Friday dealing with a family issue. Owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett both said this week they expect him to be available Sunday night. The team must declare one way or the other by 3 p.m. Saturday.

3. The Watson Trio

Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns, including 375 yards and two scores last week. He now has a trio of receivers to count on with the emergence of Texas Tech rookie Keke Coutee who had 11 receptions (on 15 targets) and 109 yards against the Colts last week, his first NFL game. He joins established threats DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

4. Road woes

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The Cowboys are still looking for their first road win of the season after losing at Carolina and at Seattle. A year ago, Dallas went 6-2 on the road, including wins to close out the season at New York, Oakland and Philadelphia.

5. Lone Star history

Since the Texans joined the league in 2002, the teams have played four times. The Cowboys have won the past three, including the most recent in October 2014, 20-17 in overtime in Arlington. The Texans beat the Cowboys in the franchise’s first game in 2002 at NRG Stadium. The Cowboys played the Oilers (Houston’s NFL team before they moved to Tennessee and became the Titans in 1997) eight times between 1970 and 1994. Dallas was 5-3 against the Oilers while they were in Houston. The Cowboys lost to the Tennessee Oilers at Texas Stadium in 1997.

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