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Cowboys vs Rams: Writer predictions for first game after the bye week

It is prediction time for Cowboys/Rams.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys football is back! After taking a week off while the team had their bye, it’s time to welcome the team back into AT&T Stadium to take on the Rams. The Rams, coming into this one at 3-4, have proven to be a feisty team capable of scoring an upset win here and there. It won’t be easy for the Cowboys, even with Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein potentially missing this one with a calf injury. Let’s find out what our writers expect in this one.

When Los Angeles has the ball

Make Matthew Stafford uncomfortable

Matthew Stafford has had a bit of a bounce back year after a 2022 season littered with turnovers before a season-ending injury. Through seven games, Stafford has thrown seven touchdowns to six interceptions but has the third-highest big time throw rate and the third-lowest turnover worthy play rate. That’s a big improvement for him.

Still, Stafford’s carelessness has popped up when pressure gets to him. The Rams have done a good job of keeping the pocket clean this year, but the two games where Stafford was pressured at least 20 times also saw him throw two interceptions in both games. The Rams also lost both of those games. The Cowboys have hit 20+ pressures in four of their six games this year. If they can get in Stafford’s face consistently, it will only be a matter of time before he throws some dangerous passes.

When Dallas has the ball

Stay on schedule

The less diplomatic version of this would be to say “don’t shoot yourselves in the foot.” The Rams defense is led by Aaron Donald, still one of the very best defensive players in the league, but there’s not much else after him. They’ve performed admirably for how inexperienced this group is, but offenses still don’t have much trouble moving the ball against the Rams.

Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris plays a lot of deep zone coverages with a multiple front that utilizes a lot of stunts. On paper, this should be an easy game for the Cowboys offense. But if they have too many negative plays, it will be playing right into Morris’ hands. If the offense can stay on schedule and move the chains consistently, they shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring points.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle (3-2):

The Rams may have a losing record, but I think they are the best team the Cowboys have faced outside of the 49ers. Puka Nacua is an incredible bookend with Cooper Kupp, and the challenge for the defense is to put pressure on Stafford before he can find his targets while making sure the receivers don’t come open quickly.

Offensively, we have to worry about the O line’s ragged play, the lack of effective running, and the overall discombobulation the Texas Coast offense keeps exhibiting. I think the bye week will help with some of those, and don’t overlook the return of Jeff Blasko to help with that ground game. The team is in incredible shape on the injury report, too.

I think the ‘boys pull off a close one again, 27-24, with Brandon Aubrey getting another game-winning kick after Dak Prescott leads a drive to get in position and use up the clock at the end.

Tony Catalina (4-1):

If the Cowboys are wanting to be taken seriously, this is a game they need to win. The Rams have the talent to beat you, and they matchup well against the Cowboys, however, a Cowboys team that is for real needs to win this one ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles matchup next weekend.

Ultimately I think the Cowboys do enough as they may weather an early storm, but eventually separate themselves to the tune of 24-16.

Matt Holleran (3-2):

After a bye week I think we see the Cowboys come out of the gate hot in this game. Dallas’ defense should be able to put consistent pressure on Matthew Stafford and potentially force him into some turnovers. On offense, I expect to see the Cowboys lean on their passing attack and feed CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks. This game stays close until the fourth when Dallas forces a turnover that helps them pull away.

Give me the Cowboys, 26-17.

Brandon Loree (3-2):

Coming off of the bye week, the Cowboys are 2-1 under McCarthy. Historically, he’s gotten his guys to play well after some time off. Besides the recent neck injury to Tyron Smith, the Cowboys enter Sunday’s game as healthy as possible. The Los Angeles Rams are a young, tenacious team that has performed way above my expectations entering the year.

Would it be the most Cowboys thing ever to lose this game and then go on the road to win at Philadelphia? You better believe it. However, I don’t see them playing with their food in this one, and Tony Pollard gets back to being a hauler with 100+ scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, leading Dallas to a victory.

Cowboys win, 27-13.

Matthew Lenix (3-2):

The Dallas Cowboys won’t have it easy against the Los Angeles Rams who have the NFL’s sixth ranked offense and a defense that’s ranked in the top half of the league, plus All-Pro Aaron Donald can still wreck a game at any time.

However, the Cowboys got their swagger back on defense two weeks ago against a high-powered attack from the Los Angeles Chargers, and they haven’t lost at home since Week 17 of the 2021 season. Also, Matthew Stafford will give the Cowboys some opportunities for interceptions, and I think they’ll get a few, or at least one that leads to a momentum-changing score.

Dallas wins 28-17.

Mike Poland (3-2):

The Cowboys haven’t played a home game in AT&T since October 1st, which was against the New England Patriots. Home field advantage is significant for this game as Dallas is currently on a ten-game winning streak when playing at home, that’s the longest streak currently in the NFL. The last time the Cowboys went on an eleven-game winning streak at home was in 1992, that year they won Super Bowl XXVII.

Cowboys win this one at home and continue making AT&T a fortress, 27-20.

Brian Martin (3-2):

No excuses this week for the Dallas Cowboys. With extra time to prepare and rest up during the bye week, they should be able to handle an inferior Los Angeles Rams team. If not, there may not be much hope for them the remainder of the season. Give me the Cowboys by at least two scores.

Cowboys win, 27-13.

RJ Ochoa (4-1):

Vibes around the Dallas Cowboys are in a weird place right now and it feels like we all have some post-bye anxiety going on. While I am not exactly confident that offense will show up in serious force ultimately I think it will at least be enough to beat the Rams.

Give me Dallas along the lines of 26-20.

David Howman (2-3):

In honor of the recent release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), I took a peek at the 1989 Cowboys schedule, which was a terrible year overall in Jimmy Johnson’s first season in Dallas. Interestingly, though, the Cowboys did play on the same date as they’ll face the Rams, October 29. That was a 19-10 loss to the Cardinals, then a divisional foe.

That, of course, reminded me of the Cowboys two-score loss to the Cardinals earlier this year as well. I bring that up because the Rams are a similar team to this year’s Cardinals in that they will beat Dallas if the Cowboys play with their food. That makes me nervous, especially coming off a week of rest, and this prediction comes with very little confidence. That said, I do think the Cowboys pull off the win with a late score to make it look like a more dominant win than it actually was.

Cowboys win 30-17.

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