The Dallas Cowboys, losers of three-straight games, host the Los Angeles Rams this week. Can Dallas turn it around against Jared Goff and company?
I don’t believe in referring to games as “must-win” unless the situation calls for it and the season really is on the line. The Dallas Cowboys aren’t quite there yet, but they are closer than ever having dropped into a first-place tie for the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys will host the Los Angeles Rams this week and while they technically don’t need to win this game to make the playoffs, it’s still an important one — if only for the mental psyche of the team. Having lost the past three games, the Cowboys find themselves at 6-7 and have squandered an opportunity to run away with the division.
Morale is low and there’s a lack of energy surrounding this team, so do the Cowboys actually have any chance of beating the Los Angeles Rams this weekend? I think most fans with a realistic outlook on this team know the answer already.
Do you believe in Christmas miracles? Because that’s what it’s going to take for the Cowboys to escape Sunday’s game with a win. Even then, I don’t think Santa has enough magic to save this team.
I’ve tried to remain optimistic but last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Dallas looked like a team that had given up on the season and head coach Jason Garrett — who is all but guaranteed gone at the end of the season — looked emotionless on the sideline as he watched his team implode to the tune of 24 unanswered points.
I usually like to look at stats when comparing these types of matchups and finding the potential advantage for the Cowboys. I just can’t see it this week.
Sure, Dallas may lead the league in yards per game (430.8) and are averaging 25.7 points per game — which is actually low considering how well they move the ball — but they struggle against strong defenses. So much of this offense’s success has either come against really porous defenses or in garbage time.
Thanks to some early-season struggles, the Rams defense isn’t ranked as high as it probably should be on paper. Make no mistake though, this is a formidable defense that is starting to come together. They may not be at an elite level yet but one only has to look at their performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks and how they bottled up quarterback Russell Wilson all game to see what they are capable of.
Do we really think this offense, which has been shut down the past three weeks, is going to somehow put it all together against one of the best defenses in the league? Unless the Cowboys can somehow figure out a way to get Ezekiel Elliott going, which I don’t see happening — the Rams defense is giving up just 3.8 yards per carry on the season — then Dak Prescott is going to be under heavy duress all game.
Expect edge rusher Dante Fowler and tackle Aaron Donald to cause all sorts of problems in the backfield. And for as good of a season as wide receiver Amari Cooper has had, I don’t see him beating Jalen Ramsey in one-on-one coverage consistently, especially with a lingering knee injury.
On the flip side, the Dallas defense looks like a shell of itself from earlier in the season. Once a top-ranked unit, the Cowboys have given up an average of 25 points in their last five games.
This is a defense that made struggling Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky look like an MVP, so I don’t have much faith in them stopping a high-octane offense like the Rams. Jared Goff may not present the same scrambling ability as Trubisky or Bills quarterback Josh Allen, but the Rams still have very dangerous receivers and a strong run game that has only gotten better as they’ve leaned more on running back Todd Gurley.
Gurley is essentially the Rams’ equivalent of Ezekiel Elliott is for the Cowboys. The offense goes as he goes. And in their past three wins, Gurley has gained over 100 yards from scrimmage. Containing him is going to be key for this Dallas defense, which has struggled against the run of late.
Safety Jeff Heath and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods should both be healthy and ready to go on Sunday, which could provide a boost to this struggling Dallas defense. However, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will most likely remain sidelined by his lingering neck issue.
If I’m being realistic, I look at this Dallas Cowboys team and see a deflated roster with zero confidence. This is not a mentally strong team that’s capable of facing adversity. If the momentum swings ever so slightly in the Rams favor on Sunday, I could see this game turning very ugly, very fast. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys get blown out this week.