The Los Angeles Rams are looking to usher in a new era at SoFi Stadium in style against the Dallas Cowboys for the first Sunday Night Football game of the 2020 NFL season.
There has been no shortage of high-profile matchups between these two teams in recent years and this season is certainly no different. Both are looking to redeem themselves after falling short of the playoffs last year by getting this season started on the right foot with the first win at the $5 billion stadium.
The Rams will certainly have their work cut out taking on this revamped Cowboys defense following an unprecedented offseason that saw them lose a number of starters. Regardless, they have plenty of motivation to spark a potential resurgence.
Rams Offense Vs. Cowboys Defense
The biggest question on offense for Los Angeles will be how they divvy up the workload in the backfield with the departure of Todd Gurley. Head coach Sean McVay has already indicated that he will be relying on a three-man committee of Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson and rookie Cam Akers to take over the running game. This group will be at full strength with Henderson cleared to play after battling a soft tissue injury.
It will also be interesting to see who between Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson will fill the void in the receiving corps left by Brandin Cooks this offseason.
Meanwhile, Dallas made efforts to revamp their defensive front with the addition of Everson Griffin and Dontari Poe. They should help make life difficult for a Rama offensive line that is coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign.
Cowboys Offense Vs. Rams Defense
The Cowboys were able to maintain some continuity by returning eight of their starters on offense from last year. However, their notable losses have come at key positions with center Travis Frederick retiring, right tackle La’el Collins injured and tight end Jason Witten now with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Cowboys made a splash by drafting CeeDee Lamb to fill the spot left in the receiving corps by Randall Cobb this offseason.
The Rams should be able to win the battle up front by returning the interior combination of Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers following the latter’s near-departure in free agency. They will also be at full strength in the secondary with the return of John Johnson III over the top.
Three Keys To Victory
1. Limit Ezekiel Elliott
There is certainly no shortage of firepower in the Cowboys’ offense for quarterback Dak Prescott to work with. While the arrival of head coach Mike McCarthy indicates that they are ready to go with a pass-heavy approach, it is safe to assume that their scheme will still feature a heavy dosage of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott’s versatile skill set allows the offense to use him in a bevy of ways in order to help maintain an element of balance. Limiting his productivity early on should pay huge dividends for both sides of the ball.
2. Control the clock
If the Rams’ defense is able to put a cap on Elliott’s production, the offense will need to take advantage by not only putting points on the board but doing it in a time-consuming fashion if possible.
This would require the offensive line to provide some push at the line of scrimmage and create lanes for this new backfield committee. Of course, the onus will also fall on Goff to strike where he can through the air.
3. Make fewer mistakes than Cowboys
Sloppy play is to be expected for every team at the beginning of the season. So it is safe to assume that this will only be magnified due to the circumstances of an unprecedented offseason due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While mistakes like turnovers and blown coverages always play a major factor, the outcome could very well be determined by which team commits fewer penalties.
How to watch
Date: Sunday, Dec. 13 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles, California)