The Los Angeles Rams head into Week 8 and will head on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys following a disappointing loss at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Several times this year, the Rams have shown that they can compete, but they just haven’t been able to get the job done over 60-minutes.
On Sunday, the Rams will go up against what many consider one of the NFC’s top teams in the Cowboys. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Rams are currently six-point underdogs to the Cowboys on the road and will have their work cut out for them. The Cowboys have shown that they are susceptible to the occasional upset, but coming off of the bye, they should be focused.
Dallas is 2-1 under Mike McCarthy following a bye week, losing to the Green Bay Packers last year. With a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles next week, the Cowboys may be looking ahead. That leaves the possibility open for an upset for the Rams.
Rams Offense vs. Cowboys Defense
How successful the Rams offense is on Sunday against the Cowboys is going to depend on how well the LA offensive line holds up. The Cowboys pass rush is one of the best in the NFL as they rank first in pass rush win-rate. Meanwhile, the Rams rank 32nd in pass-block win-rate.
With that said, the Rams are going to win this game through the air. Trevon Diggs is out for the season which left a huge hole in the Cowboys secondary. Meanwhile, Jourdan Lewis has allowed the highest passer rating from the slot this season and Stephon Gilmore’s 18.4 yards per reception allowed in the eighth-most in the league. Malik Hooker has also given up a lot of yards in coverage.
If the Rams can mitigate the Cowboys pass-rush enough, they can have some success through the air. It’s going to be important to remain balanced, but attack through the air when the opportunity arises.
Matchup to Watch: Alaric Jackson vs. Micah Parsons
The Rams are going to have their hands full with Micah Parsons. They did a respectable job blocking TJ Watt last week as they consistently chipped him with a running back or tight end. Jackson has struggled at times this season and Parsons is a bad matchup. The Cowboys run a lot of stunts and bring a ton of pressure. It’s going to be crucial for the offensive line to communicate.
How often defenses stunt on passing plays (x-axis), and their overall pressure rate (y-axis). Dallas has been in the top right of this chart basically every year since they hired Dan Quinn and drafted Micah Parsons pic.twitter.com/gTLT510uMr— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) October 25, 2023
Rams Defense vs. Cowboys Offense
Don’t be surprised of the Cowboys target Jake Ferguson in the passing game, especially if they can get him matched up with Michael Hoecht. The Rams have been one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to defending the tight end position and this will be an area for the Cowboys to attack.
The key for the Rams defense is similar to last week. How they perform in the red zone is going to have a huge impact on this game. The Cowboys rank 27th in the NFL in the red zone, scoring touchdowns at a rate of just 39 percent. On the road, the Rams are allowing touchdowns at a rate of close to 80 percent, but prior to last week ranked inside the top-10 overall. They need to force the Cowboys to settle for field goals.
Matchup to Watch: Ahkello Withspoon vs. CeeDee Lamb
The Cowboys are just 2-2 this season when CeeDee Lamb has under five catches. So far this season, Ahekllo Withspoon ranks fourth in passer-rating allowed. If the Rams can take away Lamb, it will make Dad Prescott look elsewhere and possible get uncomfortable, forcing him into mistakes. Lamb has 34 receptions this season and Michael Gallup is the Cowboys’ next closest receiver with 18.
This is another game where the Rams have an opportunity to potentially pull off the upset. The Cowboys are clearly the more talented team, but it wouldn't at all be surprising if the Rams were able to come out of Dallas with a win.
However, the Cowboys are coming off of the bye week. Much like games against the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, it could be a very close first half that sees the Rams offense move the ball. At halftime, Dan Quinn will be able to adjust and the Rams won’t have the horses to compete for 60-minutes.
Once the Rams get into a drop back passing game in the second half, Parsons and co. will be able to pin their ears back and take advantage of their biggest strength against the Rams’ biggest weakness.
Prediction: Cowboys 23, Rams 17