Texans vs. Cowboys 2013 game preview: Dallas just looking to remain healthy

Bob Levey

The Cowboys welcome the Texans to AT&T Stadium in the final game of the preseason.

The Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys continue their extensive and intense preseason rivalry on Thursday in the final game of the preseason for both teams. The Texans have high expectations a season after the making it to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2012, while the Cowboys are aiming to finally live up to their own lofty goals after another 8-8 season with no playoffs.

Meet the Cowboys

There was a growing sense of optimism with the Cowboys as training camp started and the preseason got underway, but the pessimism in regards to the chances of success this is only growing as Dallas continues to deal with a number of nagging injuries and issues on the defensive and offensive lines. While the Cowboys group of skill players continue to be one of the best in the NFC, the lack of depth, experience and talent in the trenches threatens to undo any forward progress made after 2012.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys' starting offense won't take the field on Thursday and appeared ready and eager for the season to begin after a solid performance against the Bengals last week. The Cowboys first team defense, which also won't see much action, has yet to allow a touchdown in the preseason and continues to appear to be an improved unit under new coordinator Monty Kiffin.

Meet the Texans

The Houston offense also appears to be in midseason form, with quarterback Matt Schaub passing for 213 yards on 15-of-26 attempts in just a half of action against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. The Texans offense set franchise records for the preseason with 496 yards of total offense and 355 yards passing in the 31-23 loss.

With Schaub entrenched as the starter, the battle for his backup continues on into the final game of the preseason. Case Keenum will get the start on Thursday with A.J. Yates set to play the second half, with Keenum currently appearing to have the upper hand on the backup spot with a strong preseason. The second-year quarterback has passed for a team-leading 354 yards on 68 percent passing in the preseason, but has yet to appear in a regular season game after spending his rookie year on the Texans practice squad.

Local Takes: Cowboys

Tom Ryle of Blogging The Boys takes on the local media's incessant negativity in regards to the Cowboys:

I am very sad. I was hoping for a successful year for Dallas. But obviously, we should forget about playing the games and, you know, seeing how it actually goes, and just start doing our mock drafts with that top five pick the Cowboys will undoubtedly wind up with.

There is certainly room for criticism, although some of the negative things said seem to involve a great deal of hindsight. But the assumption that failure is now assured is a bit hard to grasp. It is a possibility, but then failure is also an option for anyone in the NFL. Look at what has happened to the offensive line and secondary of the New York Giants. Does that mean they are run incompetently?

Local Takes: Texans

D_more55 of Battle Red Blog doesn't see what the fuss is about when it comes to Case Keenum starting in Dallas:

HoustonTexans.com's Deepi Sidhu reports that Case Keenum will get the start against the Cowboys in the Texans' final preseason game. I wouldn't read too much into it, as Coach Kubiak has flipped the starting order of his backup quarterbacks multiple times this preseason.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Battle Red Blog and Blogging the Boys, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BloggingTheBoys

@battleredblog

@toddarcher - Cowboys beat writer

@taniaganguli - Texans beat writer

Odds

The Texans are 2.5-point favorites over the Cowboys in the final preseason game, according to OddsShark.com.

Next Week

The Dallas Cowboys will open the season at home on Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants, while the Texans will be on the road to take on the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.

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