Week 3: Rams-Cowboys matchup analysis

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
*Keys to the game: Dallas insists it wants RB DeMarco Murray and a power-running game to be part of its identity, but that aspect was missing in last week's loss at Kansas City. Murray and the running game, on the low side of a 39-91 run-pass imbalance, rushed for 253 yards against the Rams as a rookie. Dallas has never lost (6-0) a game when Murray rushes for 100-plus yards. The Rams have a fine set of cornerbacks to match up with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Bryant (back) was slowed this week but expects to play. The Rams vow not to get into a high-paced game despite their second-half success in the no-huddle at Atlanta last week. TE Jared Cook was a focal point in Week 1 but disappeared last week; he'll get a test from the speedy linebacker corps of the Cowboys, but Bruce Carter didn't excel in pass coverage at Kansas City last week. QB Sam Bradford will look to get the ball out quickly as RT Joe Barksdale starts with primary responsibility for Pro Bowl DE Anthony Spencer, who is playing spot duty as he builds strength in his knee.
*Matchup to watch - Rams DE Robert Quinn vs. Cowboys LT Tyron Smith: Quinn leads the NFL with 16 quarterback pressures. Smith is the best left tackle he has faced this season, and the Cowboys' top pass blocker with the reach and footwork to ride Quinn away from QB Tony Romo.
*Player spotlight - Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick: With Morris Claiborne (separated shoulder) playing only in sub packages again this week, Scandrick draws dynamic rookie WR Tavon Austin.
*Fast facts: The Cowboys are 8-16 in games in which Romo attempts at least 40 passes. ... The Rams are 27th in the NFL against the pass and have never won a game under coach Jeff Fisher when allowing 20 or more points.
New Cowboys play-caller Bill Callahan might not have a good week to dust off DeMarco Murray -- the Rams are sixth in the NFL stopping the run -- but using the running game sets up Tony Romo to play hero with a late score in a scrappy game.
*Our pick: Cowboys 26-22

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