Matchups, start time, how to watch, and prediction
Breaking down how the Rams (2-2) and the Dallas Cowboys (3-1) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PDT on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on Fox (Ch. 11) and streamed on NFL+ and the Fox Sports app.
When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Matthew Stafford must bounce back after committing two turnovers in a 24-9 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers. Stafford has passed for four touchdowns, with a league-worst six interceptions. He has not passed for a touchdown in the last two games, something Stafford has not experienced since 2016. The Rams’ beleaguered offensive line gets a lift by the return of left guard David Edwards, who was sidelined against the 49ers because of a concussion. But the line, which gave up seven sacks against the 49ers, is still short-handed with third-string Jeremiah Kolone set to start at center. Rams coach Sean McVay must find a way to establish a rushing attack and get wide receiver Allen Robinson involved. While receiver Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee are off to strong starts, Robinson has only 18 targets and nine catches, one for a touchdown. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn deploys All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons from multiple spots, and Parsons has four of the Cowboys’ 15 sacks. End DeMarcus Lawrence has three sacks, safety Donovan Wilson is the leading tackler and also has intercepted a pass. Cornerback Trevon Diggs has two interceptions.
When Cowboys have the ball: Star quarterback Dak Prescott remains sidelined because of a thumb injury suffered in the season opener, but Cooper Rush has been a capable replacement. Rush has passed for four touchdowns, without an interception. CeeDee Lamb has a team-best 23 catches, two for touchdowns, and Rush also has utilized receiver Noah Brown and tight end Dalton Schultz. Last week, receiver Michael Gallup played for the first time this season and caught a touchdown pass. Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard form a potent combination. Left tackle Jason Peters is doubtful because of a chest injury. Until they played the 49ers, the Rams had not given up many big plays. They surrendered several against the 49ers and missed multiple tackles. The Rams also must improve their pass rush. They have only seven sacks. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris deployed Aaron Donald a few times as a stand-up rusher against the 49ers and could do it again to perhaps spark a defense that has not forced a turnover in two games. In his two starts, rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick has brought an aggressive attitude to a secondary that once again will be without injured safety Jordan Fuller.
When they kick: Rams kicker Matt Gay has been a safety valve for an offense that has struggled to score touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line. Gay has made all seven of his field-goal attempts. Cowboys kicker Brett Maher has made 10 of 11 field-goal attempts. Don’t sleep on Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel, a former Rams assistant, and his willingness to pull off trick plays.
Gary Klein’s prediction: The Rams have not demonstrated against elite defenses that they can protect Stafford or score touchdowns. And it won’t be easy against the Cowboys in a stadium that could be teeming with their faithful.
COWBOYS 20, RAMS 17