It is finally here — the home stretch.
We are less than one week away from the start of the NFL season, and the Rams kicking off Sunday Night Football in their new home against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys are going to be a tough matchup to start the season. Over the past few seasons, Dallas created a high powered offense that can beat you on the ground and in the air. It’s going to be a challenge for the Rams defense. Not that they can’t take them, but it’s going to test Brandon Staley’s defense.
In the Rams week 15 match up with the Cowboys, Dallas ran up the game, scoring 44 points. They also generated 475 yards of total offense, running for 263 and throwing for 212 yards.
The key to beating Dallas’s offense is to shut down the run game. Last season Dallas lost every game where Ezekiel Elliot rush under 100 yards. The Rams also need to create turnovers and convert them into scoring drives. Last season the Rams failed to record a sack or interception against Dallas, and the one fumble by Dak Prescott, he was able to recover.
Dallas kept Aaron Donald under control last season. He only recorded three total tackles, and only one was for a loss. The Rams need to work the best defensive end in the league into the game and vary the looks they show Prescott. If they can get Donald free to wreak havoc in the backfield, then the Cowboy’s offense should grind to a halt.
On offense, they need to get the run game going. Todd Gurley last season was only able to make 11 rushing attempts for 20 yards and a touchdown. The Rams’ new running back by committee needs to keep Dallas’s defense on their toes.
A strong running game will help the passing game. Rams’ receivers averaged 20.5 yards as their longest receptions even with no running game against Dallas. The Cowboys had no answer for Tyler Higbee, who caught 12 out of his 14 targets for 111 yards. If they can pull Dallas’s linebackers into the box and find Higbee over the middle, it should be an easy first down. The Rams found success in the air and should stick to the throwing game in week one, especially if Sean Lee is not in the game.
Lee is currently on the injured reserve list and might not take the field against the Rams in week one. Lee had Jared Goff’s only interception of the game. The 25-yard interception set up Dallas for an easy nine-yard drive for a touchdown.
Goff needs to eliminate that type of mistake on the Rams’ half of the field. The receivers should be a huge help but need to step up compared to their performance last season against Dallas. They were only able to penetrate Dallas’s side of the field on five of their 11 drives. While they capitalized scoring touchdowns on three of those five, it’s not enough.
If the Rams want to win week one, they need to step up on both sides of the ball.
Last season against Dallas wasn’t an instance where you can say, “if the offense had just converted in the red zone, they would have won,” or “if the defense could have just forced a turnover, they would have won.”
It’s simple: the offense needs to keep up with the Cowboy’s high powered offense, and the defense needs to shut down the run game, though it’s not going to be easy.
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