COWBOYS (3-1) AT RAMS (2-2)
When: 1:25 p.m. Sunday
Where: SoFi Stadium
TV/Radio: FOX/710 AM; 93.1 FM; 1330 AM (Spanish); Sirius 82, 227
Line: Rams by 5½ points
Notable injury designations: Rams: C Brian Allen (out; knee), CB Cobie Durant (out; hamstring), S Taylor Rapp (questionable; ribs), CB David Long (questionable; groin), S Jordan Fuller (out; hamstring), G/C Coleman Shelton (out; ankle)
Cowboys: WR CeeDee Lamb (questionable; groin), QB Dak Prescott (out; right thumb), OL Jason Peters (doubtful; chest), RB Tony Pollard (questionable; illness), DT Quinton Bohanna (questionable; neck/shoulder)
What’s at stake? A bounce-back win for the Rams, who received a reality check from the San Francisco 49ers in Monday night’s loss. It might have sunk in for the Rams that their offense is broken and the pile of injuries have taken a toll at multiple positions with how somber their locker room was after the defeat. The issues on the Rams’ offensive line haven’t gone away and they’ll likely continue against Cowboys star edge rushers Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. A win against the Cowboys would lift the Rams’ spirits and help them fix their issues with many games to go on the season.
Who’s better? The Cowboys because they have Parsons on their side. The Rams’ offensive line has allowed seven sacks in two games this season, including the season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills and versus the 49ers. Also, the Cowboys have a similar play style to the 49ers with their efficient ground game and stout defense. If Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush isn’t turning the ball over and allowing his playmakers to create in space, or what 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did Monday night, that could create issues for the Rams’ defense, especially if they don’t create pressure with a four-man pass rush. The Rams have only seven sacks this season, which is tied for 29th in the NFL.
Matchup to watch: Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey versus Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Ramsey plays a variety of roles in the Rams’ “star position” and doesn’t often shadow star receivers. But the Rams might need Ramsey to focus on Lamb because of the handful of injuries to the defensive backs. Ramsey is coming off a down performance versus 49ers star receiver Deebo Samuel and he could make up for that by containing Lamb on Sunday. Regardless if Ramsey gets to shadow Lamb, the Rams will need a few impact plays from their star cornerback.
Rams win if: … They don’t allow Parsons to make an immediate impact. The Rams will need their rushing attack to be productive early in the game to keep Parsons and the Cowboys’ defensive line guessing and not allow them to get a rhythm as pass rushers. Also, the Rams can help their banged-up offensive line by playing more two-tight-end sets, and the running backs must complete their assignments in pass protection. Parsons’ name has been mentioned multiple times in this story because he’s that good and he’s capable of wrecking games, just like Nick Bosa did Monday night for the 49ers.
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Fantasy sleeper: At this point, no Rams offensive player should be started in fantasy lineups outside of star receiver Cooper Kupp, and maybe tight end Tyler Higbee if you’re OK with a low ceiling of 5-10 points. Go with Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup because the Rams will be focused on Lamb and that could create opportunities for Gallup versus a short-handed secondary. Gallup, who tore his ACL last season, might be more comfortable this week after playing in his first game of the season last week.
Prediction: Getting left guard David Edwards back will help the Rams’ offensive line, but they also need to find rhythm with running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. The Rams’ lack of balance will hurt them again versus the Cowboys’ stout pass rushers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will throw a touchdown pass this week, but it won’t be enough. Cowboys take this one 20-17 to make their fans happy at SoFi Stadium. Beat reporter’s record: 2-2 for the season; 2-2 against the spread.