FRISCO, Texas — Moving out of the bye week and into week eight of the season allows for a bit of a refreshing feel when the Dallas Cowboys take the field against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon, as both sides of the ball have an opportunity to capitalize against a mostly youthful Rams squad.
The Cowboys have won 11 straight home games and have been mostly successful coming out of the bye in the last 15 years, and the game on Sunday provides matchups that can allow that success to continue.
Here are three key matchups to keep an eye on when the Cowboys and Rams take the field on Sunday afternoon.
Tyler Biadasz vs. Aaron Donald
The Cowboys offensive line will face possibly its stiffest individual challenge all season when Aaron Donald takes the field for the Rams on Sunday night, and that challenge starts in the middle with Tyler Biadasz.
Donald will see a variety of different looks up front both in who is lined up against him and where his own defensive coordinator will have him lined up. Regardless, Biadasz will have the task of keeping Donald limited both in identifying the strategy pre-snap and handling him for the most part post-snap.
Zack Martin will also have his opportunities, and he's excelled with those opportunities against his fellow 2014 first-round pick in the past, but Donald is looking to build on his career-best game against the Cowboys in 2022 when he had two sacks and a forced fumble last October.
Micah Parsons vs. Alaric Jackson
It took until the next-to-last defensive play against the Chargers for Micah Parsons to get back in the sack total after being limited to zero in that category since week three in Arizona, and it came at a big time to help seal the win at SoFi Stadium.
In seven games, Alaric Jackson has allowed 21 pressures but just one sack as Matthew Stafford has been getting the ball out of the pocket in just 2.5 seconds on average after the snap. However, an opportunity awaits for Parsons to get home against the young Jackson who struggles against finesse rushers such as Parsons.
The defensive line overall should be able to excel against a weak front for the Rams, but I'm specifically looking at Parsons to have a big day. If starting right tackle Rob Havenstein can't go (has yet to log a practice this week as of Friday), then another big opportunity sits on the other edge with DeMarcus Lawrence against backup Joe Noteboom.
Jourdan Lewis vs. Cooper Kupp/Puka Nacua
Another week against a Los Angeles opponent, another placement in Key Matchups for Jourdan Lewis. Two weeks ago, it was Lewis' matchup with Keenan Allen that worried me the most out of the slot and Allen feasted all night in getting open in a variety of ways.
Lewis faces an arguably stiffer challenge in lining up against Cooper Kupp out of the slot as well as any opportunities he'll have against Puka Nacua. The receiver tandem for the Rams each are in the top five for receiving yards per game in the NFL so far this season and each have found a rhythm in producing alongside each other since Kupp's return off the IR.
Lewis will need to be physical – a lot more physical than he was against the Chargers – to perform against this deadly combination of strength and speed out of breaks within the numbers with Nacua and Kupp. If Lewis can jam these two receivers and throw them off course, it could allow for the defense to have a big game. If he can't, it gives the Rams offense an opportunity to have a big day at AT&T Stadium.