Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams have been somewhat disappointing this season. On one side, the reigning NFC Champions rank third on their division with an 8-5 record. On the other, the Cowboys are the NFC East division leaders but they hold a losing 6-7 record.
While the Rams are having a season that hasn’t met expectations, they’ve been trending upwards over the last few weeks. Their apparent lack of success has been even more notorious due to the great seasons the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks have put together within the NFC West, but they’re not a bad team. Actually, the Rams are coming off a huge divisional win over the Seahawks as they dominated Russell Wilson and company with a 28-12 win on Sunday Night.
Next on their schedule are the Dallas Cowboys.
Before last week’s Sunday Night, Jason Garrett’s Cowboys opened as three-point home favorites. Not that that means anything when you consider they had opened as favorites in every game but one (they were underdogs versus the Patriots) up to week 14.
Right now, the spread has moved four points in favor of the Rams, giving the Cowboys a one-point home underdog status for Sunday’s matchup. This line makes a lot of sense considering the Rams are peaking coming into this game.
The Rams’ struggles have been on the offensive side of things. Make no mistake about it, their defense is legit. Since week 7, they’ve been allowing 15.4 points per game. That includes a 45-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens! According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, they have the #6 defense in efficiency and the third best against the run.
The story hasn’t been the same for Jared Goff and the offense. After being led by Sean McVay’s playcalling to a monstrous season in 2018, they haven’t been nearly as productive this year. Last season they scored 2.66 points per drive (#3 in the NFL). Through 14 weeks, that average has gone down to 1.90 (#16 in the NFL) in 2019.
But things looked different on Sunday Night versus the Seahawks. Goff threw for 293 yards averaging over nine yards per attempt and two touchdowns (although he did throw two interceptions). TE Tyler Higbee racked up 116 yards followed by WR Robert woods with 98. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley looked great with 79 rushing yards to his name.
The Rams have legit playoff hopes. Regardless of where they rank in the NFC West, the Rams are a big-time opponent peaking at the right time to face the Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys make them stumble at home in what feels like another must-win game for Dallas to get any sort of groove back? The Cowboys haven’t won a game since week 11 when they beat de Jeff Driskel-led Detroit Lions by only eight points.
In September, we dismissed the “They’ve beaten no one!” comments as hate on the Cowboys. However, that statement feels like nothing but the truth in December. Dallas remains the #2 offense according to offensive DVOA, but the last few weeks have been tough on the team’s best unit.
In the last three weeks, the Cowboys have averaged 16 points per game. Dak Prescott has looked way different in that stretch than when he was being considered as an MVP candidate by many around the league.
As for the defense, they’re in the league’s bottom 10 according to DVOA despite being the 12th best in points allowed.
We’ll see if the Cowboys are up for the challenge of switching trends when they host the Rams next Sunday. They might not need a win to take the division title, but they desperately need a boost before facing the Philadelphia Eagles to fight for the NFC East when week 16 comes around.