Week 2 of the NFL preseason will feature a rematch of last year’s NFC divisional round between the Dallas Cowboys (0-1 in the preseason) and the Los Angeles Rams (0-1 in the preseason). In the playoffs, it was the Rams who prevailed 30-22, and the Cowboys will look to exact a small amount of revenge with a win Saturday night. Kickoff for this matchup is scheduled for 10 pm ET at the neutral site of Aloha Stadium in Hawaii.
Coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to put the frustration of the Ezekiel Elliott holdout on the backburner and focus on football. After losing last week to San Francisco Giants 17-9, the offense will look to get on track after only scoring a trio of field goals in Week 1. Still, with Dak Prescott probably sitting on the sidelines and Elliott out, the Cowboys will certainly be without two of their most potent offensive weapons.
For the Rams, it has been a rough two-game stretch. Counting last season’s Super Bowl and Week 1 of the preseason, they have scored just six points. With Todd Gurley and Jared Goff resting, though, the Rams are not concerned about their low point totals in the preseason. Like the Cowboys, they will be mostly worried about health and getting reps in for players fighting for backup or special teams roles.
The point spread for this one currently sits with the Dallas Cowboys being three-point favorites playing at the neutral site. The over/under on total points scored is set at 39 points.
By The Numbers
Last season, the Los Angeles Rams were one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. They sat second in total yards per game at 421.1. For the Cowboys, they came in at 22nd with 343.8 yards per game. In terms of scoring, the Rams once again came in second, averaging 32.9 points per game. Dallas, meanwhile, came in 22nd once again, averaging 21.2 points per game.
Defensively, it was Dallas that held the edge. They ranked seventh in the NFL, allowing 329.2 yards per game, while the Rams ranked 19th, allowing 358.6 yards. In terms of scoring defense, the Cowboys allowed 20.2 points per game (sixth overall), while the Rams allowed 24 points per game (20th).
Dallas Needs Elliott Back
Things are getting a little tenuous in Dallas. Ezekiel Elliott is a player that the Cowboys can’t really afford to be without, but the question is whether they financially want to afford the contract Elliott desires. It is likely that Elliott is looking for an extension that would surpass that of Todd Gurley, but with Dallas also looking to negotiate contracts with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper, they were really hoping not to have to worry about Elliott’s contract yet. With Zeke holding out, though, it means either Jerry Jones will have to pay up or turn to rookie Tony Pollard to shoulder a decent load.
In terms of Prescott, he had a solid season last year. He went 356 for 526 with 3,885 yards passing, 22 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He also added 305 yards and six touchdowns on 75 carries. Again, if Elliott doesn’t come to camp soon, Prescott is going to have to shoulder a much bigger load if the offense will have any success.
Rams Look To Put Last Year In Rear View Mirror
To say that Sean McVay and the Rams were embarrassed by last year’s Super Bowl performance might be an understatement. After being the second-best scoring team in the league through the regular season, the Rams could muster just three points against the Patriots. Still, after finishing 13-3 in their division and beating the Saints to win the NFC, the Rams come back a confident team with expectations through the roof.
One of the big concerns for the Rams this year will be the health of Gurley. The star running back was having a fantastic season but disappointed late. During the regular season, Gurley rushed 256 times for 1,251 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns. He also had 59 receptions for 580 yards and four additional touchdowns. At the end of the season, particularly the playoffs, he was hampered with leg injuries, though, and ended up being a non-factor in the Super Bowl. Trying to protect their running back, expect to see a heavy dose of Darrell Henderson in the game on Saturday.
Take The Rams And The Points
Both of these teams will be relying on backups with neither one wanting to risk injuries to their stars. Again, I look for Henderson, the predicted backup to Gurley, to have a bigger role in the offense than the 13 yards he had last week. Regardless, in a battle of two good team’s backups, I will take the one being spotted the points, and that is the Rams. For my money, I am taking Los Angeles at +3.