About six weeks ago, we got our first glimpse of the Los Angeles Rams under new head coach Sean McVay. Hoping to see a new and improved team (mainly on offense) take the field, Rams fans looked on as they awaited the opening kickoff (of preseason) from the Dallas Cowboys. A 27 yard Pharoh Cooper return (from eight yards deep in the end zone) started the drive at the 19 yard line.
1st Down - Incomplete pass to Robert Woods
2nd Down - Todd Gurley runs left for -3 yards
3rd Down - (Shotgun) Jared Goff pass short left to Gurley to the LA 26 for 10 yards
4th Down - Punt
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Despite the excitement of the return to football, and all of Jared Goff’s new weapons (sans Sammy Wakins, who’d just signed the day before) a three-and-out opening series seemed a very SOSAR start to the preseason.
Johnny Hekker launched a punt deep into Cowboys’ territory and the sun - which we all know was setting in the west - impacted Lance Lenoir’s ability to haul it in. The Rams’ special teams unit bailed out the offense, and Goff & Co. trotted out for a fresh set of downs.
Five plays later the Rams were in the end zone (thanks to Cooper Kupp who scooped up a fumble of his own), and that would be it for the Rams’ starting unit for the day. They’d go on to win that day, by a final score of 13-10.
Fast forward to this Sunday when the Rams head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in a game that actually counts — and one where the starting units will most likely be battling it out to the final whistle.
Both teams enter the game with 2-1 records and, despite it being early in the season, a lot at stake in Week 4. The Rams look to escape Sunday with a victory and stay atop the NFC West...an unfamiliar landing spot in the divisional standings. A win for the Cowboys could help them slide into first place in their own division, assuming the other LA team can handle business at home against the Eagles on Sunday.
Can the Rams’ offense continue it’s hot start to the season? Will the Rams’ defense show up on Sunday and limit the damage from Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott?
We’ll find out in a couple days. For now, the TST staff have their predictions...
Go Rams (@AndrewKulick)
If Rams win it will be 35-21 if they lose it will be 24-17
Prediction: I don’t even know.
We don’t know exactly what we have with the revamped LA Rams. The offense has made an entire 180-degree turn — an about-face if you will. The defense looks like it’s struggling. One of those defensive struggles is the run, and with Zeke Elliott & Dak Prescott the Cowboys are gonna run wild.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-17
The Rams will exploit another below-average secondary this week, with the offense firing on all cylinders, Goff's confidence high and Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Gerald Everett and Todd Gurley all providing key plays. However, the defense will struggle again to slow down Dak, allowing several long runs as the pocket breaks down. Ultimately, this will come down to the final play.
Prediction: Rams win, 28-24
Sergey Konyshev (@thatsergey)
This is another statement game for LA Rams.
Yes, they’re 2-1. Yes, they won an away game versus an in-state and division rival on their home field. Yes, the offense is improved. No, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004.
Pundits are slowly buying the Rams as the best team in the NFC West, but that’s in part because the other three teams are either bad or on a downward trend. Cowboys were damn good last year, most thought they’d compete with Atlanta for the NFC championship. Now, with an entire offseason to prepare for sophomores Dak and Zeke, the teams have found some weaknesses.
Rams need this win to make a statement to the league.
Dallas needs this game to keep up with Washington. In my opinion, the game will come down to line play. O-line vs D-line for both teams. Time for the QB has been huge for Cowboys and Rams this season. On paper, Cowboys should win that battle, but that’s on paper.
Prediction: Rams win, 28-27
Tevin Broner (@T_Bron)
I'm not a big fan of this Cowboys team. I think Elliott will have a good game, probably 150 total yards. I don't like their receivers; Dez is slowly turning into an elite number two receiver. I really like Dak, but I don't think he will have a great game. This will be an interesting game for Goff, he's finally on the big stage. Can he win? I think so but it will be close.
Prediction: Rams win, 21-14
Joey Aucoin (@LaRamsRamsRams)
It’s going to be a high-scoring affair, with both defenses struggling to get off the field. As much as I like what Goff, Gurley, and Watkins are cooking up, the Cowboys has just as many weapons and the home crowd to push them over the edge.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 35-30
Eric Nagel (@Eric_nagel)
MCBAE ALL DAE.
Prediction: Rams win, 31-27
It's real simple, Goff continues his hot streaks because Dallas' secondary is average at best. However, his good game is not set in stone because he will see the most pressure he's seen this season. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. On the flip side, the defense will give up over 400 yards for the second week in a row. Zeke will gash them for 170. Dak will nickel and dime a lot then hit the deep ball once or twice. It will likely be a shoot out. My prediction is based on my belief that their front seven will contain our run game before we contain theirs. Gurley has 70 yds or less rushing.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 33-24
Charlie Hiller (@charliehiller)
The Rams failed their one playoff-caliber test against the Washington "Some Of My Best Friends Are" Redskins, but looked like they belonged on the same field. I expect more of the same, but I can't tell you if the Cowboys are better than the R's. Regardless, this is the type of game that'll be looked back upon at the end of the season that'll determine those two wild card spots. A Rams win can put them in that log-jammed discussion for WC2.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 30-24
Both offenses start out slow, Zeke runs over us but we still hang around. Lose 27-24
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-24
Both defenses have sucked as of late but running teams are kryptonite for LA and both the running back and quarterback can run. It'll be a long day. Jaylon smith is on a tear in the middle, and Sean lee and the boys have not allowed more than 100yds rushing last 2 weeks.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 35-31
Three weeks in, the Rams offense has been the surprise of the NFL. With that said, the Rams defense has been equally surprising (or alarming) with how poorly they've played. While I expect this to be closer than I originally thought a few weeks ago, until the Rams defense shows that they can get off the field.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-24
Elijah Kim (@Big_EZK)
The Rams travel to Jerry World as the underdog. Even with a surprising 2-1 start (albeit victories against the Colts and 49ers), the Rams will not have enough defensive prowess to be in control of the game. Look for Zeke to feast on the porous run defense, setting up the rest of the offense. Despite Jared Goff and the offense's resiliency, the Rams lose in a high scoring affair.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 34-27
Rams face their biggest test to this point in the season this Sunday. Dak Prescott isn't fading into the background after his great 2016 season and Jared Goff is statistically a top 3 QB right now. Ezekiel Elliott faces a prime matchup vs a bad Rams run defense. Rams have given up most rushing TDs and 2nd most yards to RBs. On the other side, Dallas is surrendering the 4th most catches to RBs, an area where Todd Gurley has been very productive so far. Whichever team's defense can come up with more 3rd down stops probably wins. I'll give the edge to the home team.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-21
Sosa Kremenjas (@SosaNFLDraft)
The Cowboys will be a little too much for the Rams to handle on Sunday. With an explosive offense and a dangerous running game, the Rams defense will really have their hands full, and I'm not sure they're up to the task.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 24-17
Sean Wilkinson (@Papa_Lurch)
The word 'shootout' is unfamiliar to Rams fans after 5 years of Fisherball. The Rams suddenly potent offense will have to be efficient to keep pace with a Cowboys high powered offense looking to get back on track.
Prior to the season, this looked like a lopsided loss for the Rams. Now? It looks like an exciting measuring stick for the upstart Rams. I expect it to be fun, but ultimately I don't know if the Rams have enough on defense to pull this one out.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 31-30
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-16
Brandon Bate (@NoPlanB_)
I think both of these offenses are going to put up points. But I’m going to give the edge to the Cowboys in this one, and for no reason other than that it’s Week 4, and I’ve yet to see signs of Wade Phillips’ ability to magically turn the Rams’ defense from good to great.
I can see DeMarcus Lawrence causing fits for Rob Havenstein all day. I can’t say the same for any of the Rams’ pass rushers.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 27-24
Eighteen members of Turf Show Times contributed to this roundtable. Of those, 13 have the Cowboys winning, four have the Rams winning, and one guy gave two scores and I still don’t even know.