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Week 4: Previewing the Rams offensive approach and the Dallas defense

Look for Demarcus Lawrence to continue grinding and lead Dallas to a victory.

Los Angeles Rams vs San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys got back to their winning ways with a solid performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys now shift their attention to the NFC West leading Los Angeles Rams. Let’s take a look at the Rams offensive attack and how the Dallas defense will fare against it.

Quarterback

Through three games this season, Jared Goff is completing 70% of his passes for 817 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception. He has started the season off strong and has benefited from the addition of Sammy Watkins and the re-emergence of Todd Gurley. Jared Goff has never faced the Dallas Cowboys so it remains to be seen how he handles the strong defensive line and coverage play in the secondary. This season, Goff has looked like a number-one pick and has excelled in both the long and short game through the first three games.

Look for the Cowboys to send pressure from the secondary to frazzle the young quarterback.

Offensive Line

The Rams offensive line consists of veteran Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, Rodger Saffold at left guard, John Sullivan at center, Jamon Brown at right guard and Rob Havenstein at right tackle. Through three games, this group has only allowed three sacks, which is slightly less impressive given that they have faced the Colts, the Redskins and the 49ers, with only Washington showing a hint of a strong pass rush. Goff has shown the ability to navigate in the pocket but he will be tested often against a feisty and efficient Dallas defensive line.

Playmakers

Los Angeles acquired Sammy Watkins from the Bills this offseason and feature him as their leading and most productive receiver. Thus far, he has caught 13 of 14 balls thrown to him for 194 yards and two touchdowns. What will make Watkins particularly dangerous this week is his ability to gain separation and beat the defense on the deep post or go route. In addition to Watkins, the Rams feature Todd Gurley who is a rushing and receiving threat from the back field. This season, Gurley leads the National Football League with six touchdowns through three games. His ability to break off a long run or convert on a third down is the key piece to the Rams offense.

The Dallas defense will focus all of their attention on stopping Gurley which will force Goff to beat them through the air. Based on their experiences in Denver, it is clear that the Dallas defense needs to make stopping Gurely their top priority. With the emergence of Lawrence and Collins along the defensive line, look for the Dallas to win the matchup up front.

Key Matchup

Demarcus Lawrence erupted on to the national scene on Monday Night Football after putting together his third straight superb performance. His tenacity and motor to get to the quarterback prevented Carson Palmer from throwing the ball down the field. The key matchup this week is how Lawrence will be defended by the Rams offensive line. Given his string of strong performances, it is clear that he will receive double teams, but he has shown the ability to still cause havoc in the backfield. If Lawrence is able to continue his pass-rushing attack, the Cowboys should be able to limit Goff’s passing game, then the defense can concentrate on shutting down Gurley’s ability to break long runs. If Lawrence and the defensive line are unable to limit Goff in the pocket, the Rams could pull out a major upset in Dallas.