FRISCO, Texas – Here are the two main keys to this matchup. Whoever executes these points better has the best chance at grabbing a win on Saturday night.
Let’s take a look:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
The strength of this Los Angeles Rams squad is their offense, and with Sean McVay at the controls, it has one of the most creative play callers in the game.
The majority of his creativity comes in large part with his weapons like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Gerald Everett. They’re a difficult offense to prepare for because opponents have difficulty matching up with them. Just when you have one area under control, McVay hits you in a different direction.
From what we’ve seen this season, from a defensive standpoint, is that the Cowboys have the defensive personnel to handle the Rams -- but it’s once again is going to take a similar effort like they had against the Falcons and Saints where they came up with some stops. In those games, they were able to limit the big play. It wasn’t until the end of the Falcons game that Atlanta was able to find Julio Jones. Against the Saints, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara were nonfactors.
As good as the coverage was in those games, the pass rush was even better. For the Cowboys to win this game, they’re going to have to create problems for this Rams offensive line with their pass rush. This is where the Bears and Eagles were able to slow down them down. They affected the way Goff operated in the pocket and in turn it threw off their game plan. Get to Goff early and make him think about the rush and this game will turn in the Cowboys’ favor.
Los Angeles Rams Win If:
Wade Phillips knows that in order to beat the Cowboys, you have to make them as one-dimensional as quickly as possible. When they’re allowed to get their running game going, there are so many directions Scott Linehan can take his attack.
Limiting Ezekiel Elliott is easier said than done, but Phillips doesn’t have much choice. Stop the Cowboys from running the ball and he can let his pass rush loose on an offensive line that has had its share of problems protecting the quarterback.
The main problem for Phillips is that, as good as his pass rush can be, his run defense is just the opposite. Opponents have had success running the ball against his front seven. The Rams give up an average of 5.1 yards per carry, which was last in the league during the regular season. This defense is built to play with a lead and get after the passer -- not play run defense. That’s honestly surprising considering it has players across the front line like Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. Opponents have taken advantage of their front with quick hitting plays like traps. They get Donald or Suh up the field, then smack them with a pulling guard and run the ball behind that block.
As big as this front is for the Rams, their inside linebackers are extremely light by NFL standards. Both Corey Littleton and Mark Baron go right at 230 pounds. Scott Linehan is going to test this Rams run defense and make them prove they can stop what the Cowboys do best. Look for Phillips to take some chances with his front seven in order to get them off blocks in order for them to choke this Cowboys running game and turn this into a passing game.