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Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: Turning Up The Heat vs. Stafford


Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Rams.

The Cowboys will win if…

The blueprint is simple for the Cowboys with Cooper Rush in the lineup. The team wins when the squad excels at complementary football with a stingy defense setting the tone and the offense taking advantage of turnovers and advantageous field position. Although the offense needs to adhere to a run-first premise with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard pounding away at the middle of the defense, Cooper Rush will need to make a handful of plays to keep the Rams from condensing the field with tight coverage and loaded boxes. If CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup can take advantage of their big play opportunities, the Cowboys will be able to play this game on their terms.

Defensively, Dan Quinn needs to turn up the heat on Matthew Stafford without exposing his secondary to risky blitz coverage. The Cowboys have successfully utilized a variety of four-man rushes with clever line movement to destroy pass protections and pummel passers through the first quarter of the season. And that strategy might enable the Cowboys to attack the Rams' quarterback without compromising their coverage on Cooper Kupp. If the "Doomsday" defense bruises and batters Stafford in the pocket, the Cowboys will chalk up another "W" in the win column.

The Rams will win if…

The defending champs must show up ready to rumble to handle a Cowboys team that is brimming with confidence. The Rams must jump on their opponent from the opening whistle to create the frenzied tempo that suits their style. Sean McVay needs to jump-start an offense that has sputtered for most of the season. He might consider utilizing a little tempo to quicken the pace to tire out an athletic defense that creates chaos at the line of scrimmage. If the Rams can add a little tempo to the game plan while placing a greater emphasis on the running game to force the Cowboys to drop a safety near the box, the defending champs might be able to create more big plays in the passing game.

On defense, the Rams must stop the running game and force Cooper Rush out of his comfort zone. If the backup quarterback is forced to play as a playmaker instead of as a game manager, the Rams might be able to create a critical turnover that eventually decides the game.

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