When the 3-4 Los Angeles Rams visit the 4-2 Dallas Cowboys today, both teams will find themselves in a familiar position. Both teams trail in their division to their historic long-time rival, both teams are fringe wild card teams at the moment and both teams know a loss will severely jeopardize their playoff ambitions. Here are three keys for the Rams to escape Dallas with a dub.
Rams need to run the ball on second down
As previously discussed, the Rams’ loss to the Steelers last week came from constantly being in third and long. There was also a direct correlation to the Rams running the football on second down and having a higher conversion percentage on third down. With Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman establishing themselves as solid starters within the Rams’ offensive system, rely on them more to get the dirty yards that will open up play-action opportunities down the field.
Defense needs to shut down CeeDee Lamb
In the Cowboys’ six games this season, CeeDee Lamb was the Cowboys’ leading receiver for four of those games. In the two games that the Cowboys lost, there is a direct correlation between shutting down CeeDee Lamb and the opposing team winning.
Lamb was the Cowboys’ leading receiver in their 42-10 loss to the 49ers but he was held to four receptions for 49 yards. In their 28-16 loss to the Cardinals, Lamb was held to four receptions for 53 yards. In the four games that the Cowboys won, Lamb averaged 6.5 catches per game for 93.25 reception yards. Double Lamb and take away Dak Prescott’s safety valve. If Lamb is covered, you will also see Aaron Donald and Byron Young get constant pressure on Prescott due to his hesitancy to pull the trigger on other pass catchers.
Lucas Havrisik has to come through
It’s no secret why Lucas Havrisik is putting on a game jersey this week. His predecessor Brett Maher had an awful day last week where he singlehandedly left 7 points on the board and was subsequently cut by the Rams. Havrisik needs to make the makeable kicks.
Quite frankly, the Rams aren’t good enough to make that many errors and still be expected to win. With clear deficiencies on both sides of the ball, the Rams need a near-perfect performance from their special teams. Points should be at a premium so it is crucial that the Rams grab all of them when they get their chance.
The Rams will have to deal with multiple issues in terms of both roster construction and scheme. I trust Raheem Morris will put up a defensive effort that will give the Rams an opportunity to win. The question when it comes to victory will be on the offensive side of the football.
Will Sean McVay be as prepared as he needs to be with the birth of his son occuring in the middle of the week and will Matthew Stafford’s bad habits sink a winning effort from the Rams? I have faith in both. McVay and Stafford will be on their game and the Rams will win 20-17. However, if they don’t follow these three keys, it could be loss number five for L.A.