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Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Preview Week 5

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Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs for a short gain in the first quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi. | Image by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

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The Dallas Cowboys head to the West Coast this week to take on the Los Angeles Rams. The 3-1 Cowboys are flying high on a three-game winning streak, while the 2-2 Rams are licking their wounds after a disastrous Monday night contest against the San Fransisco 49ers. The game features two of the league’s best defenses and plenty of drama on offense.

The Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is a seven-time Pro Bowler, a game-wrecker, and arguably the most difficult defensive player in the NFL to game plan around. San Fransisco consistently sent double teams against Donald last week. As a result, he was held to five tackles, two for a loss, and only one QB hit — the only one of the nights for the Rams — with no sacks.

There is a lot of attention on the Rams’ defense right now beyond the performance of Donald. The reigning Super Bowl Champions also have linebacker Bobby Wagner who continues to play at an elite level. Wagner led the Rams in tackles last week with 10. Jalen Ramsey continues to present problems for offenses in both the run game and when passing. Though he has recorded only one interception this season, Ramsey broke up five passes on Monday to help keep his team in the game.

The match-up will be of particular interest because of the dominant play style of the Dallas defense. The two units compare very well with high-level skill players at all three levels of the defense. The Rams will need to find a way to slow down linebacker Micah Parsons. Despite regularly getting double teams, Parsons has recorded four sacks and is a player that Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will need to account for on every play.

One of the problems with double-teaming Parsons is that it opens up opportunities for others on the Dallas defense. Dorance Armstrong, Demarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore, and Dante Fowler Jr. are all feasting on the opportunities opened up by the draw of attention Parsons gets. The Cowboys are second in the NFL with 15 sacks and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points in any contest this year.

When teams have gotten opportunities to pass the ball, the Cowboys’ secondary has been poised to handle their jobs. Last season, Trevon Diggs recorded 11 interceptions to tie a franchise record, and he has already registered two this season. Donovan Wilson will likely be joined by Jayron Kearse for the first time since Week 1, giving the cornerback and safety group one of the better tacklers to deal with Rams receivers.

The key to the 49ers’ victory was penetration through the offensive line of the Rams, harassing Stafford and forcing him into mistakes. Late in the game, as the Rams attempted to engineer a comeback, Stafford threw an interception and lost a fumble on consecutive drives, losing any opportunity at a win in the process. The Rams’ offense has looked stagnant at times this season, particularly when facing aggressive defenses that keep Stafford from getting the ball into some of the group’s most talented players.

The Cowboys’ offense has gotten into a productive rhythm with Cooper Rush at quarterback, reeling off several big-time wins against quality opponents, but they have not faced a defense as tough as the one they will see this week. The Cowboys have put up 20 or more points in all three wins and have limited mistakes. Rush is the only quarterback with over 100 pass attempts yet to throw an interception this season, mainly because he rarely takes risky throws.

Receiver Michael Gallup returned to much celebration and a touchdown reception last week, and he is primed for a big day on Sunday. He will be a welcome addition this week, with both CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown missing practice time due to injuries. The Cowboys have not had to lean heavily on their run game yet this season, but Sunday could see a lot of action for running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to counter the Rams’ pass-rushing efforts.

The Rams are favored to win with the money line at -230 and a 4.5-point spread, while the Cowboys are +195. The game kicks off at 3:25 pm Central Time.          

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margaret barrett
margaret barrett
1 month ago

Good luck Dac on getting your job back, I’m thinking.