Both the Cowboys and Rams missed the playoffs last season and are looking to have a bounce-back year after enduring several big changes in the offseason. But only one of these teams can jump out to a 1-0 start. What does our BTB staff think?
When Los Angeles has the ball
The Rams offense isn’t anything wildly unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it easy to defend by any means. Sean McVay’s scheme features a ton of pre-snap motion and play-action, which can confuse and overwhelm defenses when both the run and pass games are operating at a high level.
The Rams are unveiling a reshaped run game after cutting Todd Gurley in the offseason, so McVay and company will need all the help they can get on that end. If the Cowboys defense, especially their front seven, can stay disciplined and not bite too much on run or pass fakes, then they have the talent to bottle up this offense.
When Dallas has the ball
While the Cowboys were electric on offense last year, it usually took them a couple of possessions to really get started. They scored points on their opening drive in just four games last season, and trailed at halftime in every single one of their losses.
This offense figures to once again be capable of putting up big points, but to improve on last year’s performance they need to be firing on all cylinders right out of the gate. That means avoiding dropped passes or big negative-yardage plays, both of which plagued the team last year.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
I’m so hyped to see this Cowboys offense in action that I am deliberately cooling my jets to avoid being disappointed. Without an inkling of real football action to give these guys a taste, there should be some built-in sloppiness that results in a slow start. I’m also more worried about the right tackle spot than I thought I would be as my confidence in Cam Erving is not inspiring.
If the Rams offense finds mismatches for Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, it will be interesting to see if this new coaching staff can step in and limit the exploitation. In the end, I think we’re reminded that Ezekiel Elliott is still the star of this football team. I’m calling for a closer game than people might expect with it fittingly coming down to special teams to seal the victory. Cowboys 24, Rams 21
I think we are going to find out that two of the things we hope about the Cowboys are true: The wide receiving corps is elite, and the pass rush is devastating. It will take the Cowboys a bit to get clicking on offense, but the defensive line will have Jared Goff under heavy pressure from the start - along with some blitzes dialed up by Mike Nolan. It will lead to a couple of picks by the secondary, and the favorable field position will help the offense get settled in and rolling. We aren’t to #Team40Burger yet - but by the second half, the outline will be taking shape. Cowboys 31, Rams 19.
The Cowboys new passing attack led by Dak Prescott are going to stay away from Jalen Ramsey instead picking on the inexperienced slot corners and Troy Hill. That then opens up running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott get easy yards throughout the night. On the defensive side of the ball the Cowboys revamped pass rush led by DeMarcus Lawrence will give Jared Goff a hard time getting into a rhythm. Cowboys 28, Rams 17
The Rams defense has a couple of real studs in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but they have some real holes in the back seven, especially at linebacker. The Cowboys are going to exploit this to unleash a juggernaut offense. They will force the Rams offense to keep up. The problem for Los Angeles is that Jared Goff crumbles under pressure in the pocket, and the Cowboys revamped pass rush will chase him all over the field. Cowboys win 31-20.
Dallas will get off to a fast start to the Mike McCarthy era. Led by big games from the running back duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Pollard, Dallas will put up 31 points. On defense, after a slow start, the Cowboys will put consistent pressure on Jared Goff, forcing him into a key turnover. Cowboys 31 Rams 24
This Cowboys passing attack - run by an unleashed Kellen Moore and a version of Dak Prescott looking to prove he deserves a big contract - will take advantage of an inexperienced secondary and first-time defensive coordinator to put up some big plays. The Dallas defense will do enough to get Jared Goff flustered, which is really all it takes for McVay’s offense to fall apart. Cowboys win 28-17.