(Editor's Note: The start of the 2017 season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to prepare. The Cowboys face a daunting schedule this year, highlighted by the AFC West and NFC West, as well as their traditional rivalries in the NFC East. Over the next two weeks, Bryan Broaddus will preview what to expect from all 13 of their upcoming opponents. The series starts with Week 4 and the Los Angeles Rams).
Opponent:Los Angeles Rams
Series Record:Dallas leads, 17-15
This Year's Matchup:Oct. 1, AT&T Stadium
Best Draft Pick:The Rams did not have a first-round selection due to the trade they made the previous season to obtain Jared Goff. In the third round they selected Cooper Kupp, the talented receiver out of Eastern Washington. With Kupp, the Rams don't have a "blazer" as a route runner, but what they do get is an extremely tough, reliable receiver -- which is exactly what Goff needs. Kupp will find ways to get open and when the ball comes his direction he will be able to finish the play. This is a balanced player that has an outstanding catch radius. "Go-to" player in every sense of the word. Can be a difference maker.Best Free Agency Move:The Rams have used multiple high draft picks on offensive linemen with little or no success. Greg Robinson has had his share of struggles and Rob Havenstein is average at best. Rodger Saffold has been the most reliable throughout his career while on the field. In the offseason the front office went out and spent on Pro Bowl offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth from the Bengals. Whitworth will line up at left tackle and will provide much needed stability for the position. The biggest question for the Rams with their offensive line is who will play center? John Sullivan, who signed from the Redskins after spending several seasons with the Vikings, is the odds-on favorite.
Most Troublesome Matchup:Wade Phillips is the new defensive coordinator with the Rams – so scheme-wise they will be switching from 4-3 to 3-4. Everywhere that Phillips has shown up as the coordinator, the defense has improved. The Rams have some talented players with Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Trumaine Johnson, but they will likely need a draft or two to fully switch the defense. I fully expect that Phillips will get everything possible out of these players and will make things difficult for opposing offenses.
Most Favorable Matchup:The Cowboys will catch the Rams in Week 4 of the season, which is early. It will be interesting to see what new head coach Sean McVay was done with Jared Goff in his second season at this point. McVay did not draft Goff, but he'll be his guy for the time being. McVay played a big part in the development of Kirk Cousins in Washington so management is hopeful for the same with Goff. That growth is likely going to happen given Goff's talent, but Rams' fans might not see it until later in the season -- which helps the Cowboys.
Unsung Storyline: I applaud the Rams for going the direction they did with the hiring of Sean McVay, which is different in what we've seen in the past with retread names. Give me the coach with fresh ideas. What McVay lacks in experience he will make up for with his approach. Wade Phillips will help the defense, so it will be up to him to change the fortunes of an offense that had no identity or plan. In due time, I believe he will do just that -- no matter how young he is.