Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys: Havoc at Noon

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will need to deliver in the Cowboys home opener on Sunday night. Photo Courtesy: Brook Ward
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott hopes to get back on track against the Rams this week.
Photo Courtesy: Brook Ward
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By Zach Walker 

Game Info
Los Angeles Rams vs Dallas Cowboys
Sunday – October 1 – 12:00 p.m.
AT&T Stadium – Arlington – Texas

Records Prior to the Game
Los Angeles Rams (2-1, 1-0 Away)
Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 1-0 Home)

Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
DT Aaron Donald – It’s no longer a secret that Aaron Donald is only employed to ravage and destroy any apposing team’s gameplan. Donald is a monster. He’s truly one of the sinister six in the NFL that when lined up against, he needs to be completely accounted for. Donald held out throughout the pre-season and came back as if he didn’t miss a single practice. Travis Frederick is going to be lined up across from Donald for most of the game, which is a blessing for the Cowboys, for Frederick is probably the single most consistent piece in the Cowboys’ arsenal, but he’ll have to be at top form to combat Donald.

Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
LB Damien Wilson – If it’s possible, shelf Sean Lee. If he’s good enough to play, but might need that EXTRA day, give it to him. Lee is TOO damn vital to the Cowboys. It’s going to be on Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson to soak up the slack. Jaylon Smith isn’t healthy enough to handle the full load, though he is going to be on the field as much as he possibly can, because he is such a heads on player, Damien Wilson has been in the system for a few more seasons than Smith. Wilson can be that physical presence in the middle, attacking the running backs and chasing the tight end, and for this week, he’s going to need to be the man in charge. Jaylon Smith with be there as much as the Cowboys will use him, but when he’s not there, it’ll be Justin Durant and Damien Wilson, and that’ll be the matchup to watch.

Which group will give the Cowboys trouble?
The Rams’ running game – The Rams have a spectacular running back in Todd Gurley. And through three games he’s looked particularly strong because of the threat that Jared Goff has presented. Sean McVay has clearly looked like he has been able to create gameplans and game situations that put Goff in positions to win, and off of that, Gurley has been able to exploit what Goff, McVay, and the recently acquired Sammy Watkins have opened up. Gurley is facing less eight man fronts, and has been able to blossom as a pass catcher. Though obviously, Gurley being used in the short range passing game isn’t running game, it certainly moves the chains and keeps the Rams on the field.

Which group will give the Rams trouble?
The Cowboys’ front three – Instant reaction, however when it’s on, it’s clearly working. DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys started a straight game versus the Cardinals, playing base four linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs, then moved to this three man front to control the passing game and dare the Cardinals to run, and the Cowboys kept the lid firmly on. This three were getting intense pressure on seemingly every down, and getting Carson Palmer off of spot to either rush throws or completely miss reads in the field. For as much as I don’t respect Carson Palmer, Jared Goff isn’t anywhere close to his sort of polish, with established receivers, I like the Cowboys’ ability to dictate the line of scrimmage.

What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
This is a classic Cowboys beat the surprising upstart game. Just as it was a few seasons ago when the Cowboys stomped the then Sam Bradford led Rams on this same early season stage. I’d like to see a serious return to the ground game, getting Zeke involved early and often. I like the amount of passes that Prescott through against the Cardinals, maybe a few more, but keep the ground game and Zeke and the offensive line well-oiled and operational.

Dallas – 31
Los Angeles – 20