The well-rested Dallas Cowboys host the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday. Based on the Rams’ first seven games of 2023, how might certain Cowboys benefit from the matchup and how could others be in for a tough day at the office?
Los Angeles may be 3-4 but that losing record could be deceiving. Two of those defeats came from the 49ers and Eagles and the others were one-score losses to the Bengals and Steelers. While not the force that they once were under Sean McVay, the Rams are still a tough opponent that will present some challenges to overcome.
QB Dak Prescott
Between the matchup and coming off some hopeful offensive retooling during the bye week, Prescott could have a nice day. Los Angeles hasn’t allowed huge numbers in terms of passing yards or touchdowns, but they have been allowing high completion percentages and passer ratings to even middling quarterbacks like Kenny Pickett and Anthony Richardson. That would seem to suit Dallas’ current offensive style very well for ball control and sustained drives.
One area where Prescott could be especially productive is on the ground. If Dallas is willing to let him, the Rams have given up some huge rushing days to opposing quarterbacks recently:
- Josh Dobbs - seven carries for 47 yards
- Jalen Hurts - 15 carries for 72 yards, 1 TD
- Anthony Richardson - 10 carries for 56 yards, 1 TD
After Prescott’s rushing TD against the Chargers two weeks ago, where he looked about as fast as we’ve seen him since the 2020 injury, perhaps Dallas will look to exploit this apparent weakness in Los Angeles’ defense. Whether it’s through the air on the ground, however Prescott can shine will be a welcome sight.
EDGE Micah Parsons
The Rams have allowed QB Matthew Stafford to be sacked 17 times in their last five games. That speaks to pass protection issues across the board, and you know that Dan Quinn will put Parsons at every possible spot along the defensive front to take advantage.
After four sacks in Dallas’ first three games, Parsons has been held to just one over the last three. He’s still been impactful with pressures and other disruptive plays, but we’d love to see him back near the top of that sack leader board. With extra rest off the bye, this feels like the right team at the right time for Parsons to have a superstar day.
WR CeeDee Lamb
After a big return to productivity with seven catches for 117 yards against the Chargers, look for Lamb to keep it going in Week 8. Los Angeles hasn’t had much luck stopping top receivers this year; they surrendered 107 yards to George Pickers last week, 127 to A.J. Brown in Week 5, and 141 to Ja’Marr Chase in Week 3.
If Prescott is able to play in rhythm as mentioned before, that should greatly benefit his franchise receiver. Few in this league have proven capable of stymieing Lamb when the offense is rolling and the Rams would seem especially vulnerable.
CB Jourdan Lewis
Covering Rams WR Cooper Kupp is about the least fun a slot corner can have. While Lewis is hardly a bad player in his role, this is a mismatch that Los Angeles will be looking to exploit.
This is a time when you really miss Trevon Diggs. Obviously, he’d be great to have on the field for his own ability. But the ripple effect of DaRon Bland getting pulled to the outside makes Dallas weaker at two spots in the primary defensive formation.
Lewis is certainly capable of having a good game and even making some big plays, which could be there if the pass rush forces Stafford into some mistakes. But if Stafford and Kupp get their own rhythm going, Lewis could be eating a lot of dust on Sunday.
RB Tony Pollard
While we’re longing to see better games from Pollard, this may not be the week. The Rams have been pretty stingy to opposing running backs over the last five weeks, holding Joe Mixon, Zach Moss, and Najee Harris below 4.0 yards per carry. While they’ve been susceptible to running QBs, the starting backs haven’t fared as well.
Pollard’s had a rough start to 2023, much of which seems due to injury and chemistry issues on the offensive line. The bye week may have been a good time to work some of that out, but we may have to wait until a different opponent for any progress to really show.
TE Jake Ferguson
Other than an eight-catch, 117-yard explosion by Dallas Goedert in Week 5, Los Angeles hasn’t allowed opposing tight ends to accomplish much this year. In their other six games, starting tight ends combined for just 16 catches for 210 yards and one touchdown.
Like Pollard, Ferguson is a guy that we keep waiting to see more from in the Cowboys’ offense. The skills are there but something in the usage and play-calling just isn’t allowing the second-year starter to produce. Unless the Rams over-commit to stopping the wide receivers, the quiet trend will probably continue for Ferguson this week.