Luka Doncic, metaphorically crossing over the city of Houston for all of us. Michael Wyke/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball

What I’m Watching: Dallas Versus Houston

Are we above being petty here? Of course not.

I’m a simple man at heart: I enjoy good food, good friends, good music, and any and all sports-related misery for the city of Houston. Does this occasionally strain my friendship with our online editorial director, Houston’s own Matt Goodman? Sure. Does this prevent me from rooting for his misery? Surely not.

Which is why, beyond seeing whether the Cowboys can stretch their winning streak to six games, two-thirds of what I’m watching this week boils down to us versus them, civilized dry heat versus the sweltering swamp, zoning laws versus municipal anarchy, an upstanding Presbyterian lawyer from Tennessee (John Neely Bryan) versus two war profiteers from New York (the Allen brothers). I trust you’ll join me on the right side of history.

Tuesday, 10/26: Mavericks versus Rockets7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest

The Mavericks have sputtered a bit out of the gate, getting embarrassed by the Atlanta Hawks (who, in fairness, might be really good — even if Luka Or Trae isn’t a real thing) before dragging through much of the first half in Saturday’s win over Toronto. We’re looking for no such struggles tomorrow night against what figures to be one of the league’s worst teams, even if No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and Matt’s adopted son Kevin Porter Jr. are fun as hell to watch.

Saturday, 10/30: SMU at Houston6:00 p.m., ESPN2

Houston is the first of three opponents standing between the undefeated Mustangs and No. 2 Cincinnati in a battle for AAC supremacy. The 6-1 Cougars were also plucked by the Big 12 in its recent expansion while SMU was left out in the cold. The players on the field probably don’t pay too much mind to that, but you can bet plenty of fans will if the Mustangs come out on top. ESPN’s Football Power Index is picking SMU by the absolute slimmest of margins, giving them a 50.1 percent chance of victory compared to Houston’s 49.9. So this could and should be a nail-biter the whole way through.

Sunday, 10/31: The Cowboys’ secondary versus the Minnesota Vikings’ receivers7:20 p.m., NBC

Dalvin Cook, who ranks among the game’s elite running backs, will have to pardon me for focusing more on the aerial attack, but Minnesota has shown a newfound propensity to put the ball in the air in 2021. The Vikings rank sixth league-wide — one spot behind the Cowboys — thus far at 286.3 passing yards per game, a dramatic increase over their 250.6 average from 2020. It’s not hard to see why: Justin Jefferson is among the game’s elite young receivers, Adam Thielen keeps on ticking, and KJ Osborn’s walk-off touchdown two weeks ago was an emphatic statement about his capability as a third option.

Dallas, meanwhile, ranks in the bottom five in passing yards allowed, at 295 per game, and leans on solidity far more than star power in the secondary, outside of Trevon Diggs. We’ve written about the Cowboys’ offense enough times here at StrongSide that I trust you’ll like Dallas’ chances in a shootout. They may just have to get into one to avoid things getting spooky on Halloween night.

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