- Cowboys favored by 3 at the Rams Sunday night
- Mike McCarthy new Cowboys head coach
- Rams offense lost Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks
Two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance; the Los Angeles Rams appear more NFC pretender than contender. After finishing the 2019 season 9-7 straight up and 10-5-1 against the spread (second-best), online sportsbooks have Sean McVay’s squad lumped in with Super Bowl longshots. As for the Cowboys, Dak Prescott didn’t get the contract extension he desired, but returns under a franchise tag to a re-loaded offense that features Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and first-round draft pick CeeDee Lamb. Dallas underachieved a season ago with the 8-8 record and 9-7 mark against the spread, but some bad luck saw them lose six one-score games.
|Week 1: Dallas Cowboys at L.A. Rams Game Info|
|Date: September 13, 2020, 8:20 p.m. ET|
|Stadium: SoFi Stadium|
|TV Coverage: NBC|
|Opening Odds: Cowboys -2.5 | O/U 50|
|How to Bet: Best Online Sportsbook Reviews|
The Rams opened as 2.5-point home underdogs, but Dallas backers moved that line to Los Angeles +3. Those interested in the Rams moneyline are looking at a range of +130 to +140 . The point total opened at 50 before a significant jump to 52 at most online books. The total has gone OVER in 13 of Dallas’ last 19 games.
Los Angeles is 13-6-1 ATS in their last 20 games and 4-1 ATS in their last five Week 1 contests.
The Cowboys are just 1-4 ATS against NFC foes over their past five games.
Dallas Cowboys News and Notes
Dak Prescott’s 4,902 passing yards ranked second only to Jameis Winston last season. Pair that with 30 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and 10th-best QB rating (99.7) and you can see why the Cowboys quarterback felt good about his chances of locking in a long-term deal. However, Jerry Jones is an owner that will play hardball and make you sweat out those types of deals. So, DP is on the one-year franchise deal looking to prove it on the field … again.
Though Ezekiel Elliott’s yards per rush dipped slightly in 2019, he racked up better than 1,350 ground yards for the third time in his first four seasons and scored 12 rushing touchdowns; most since 2016. The highly-lauded Cowboys offensive line remains intact for the most part (La’El Collins was placed on IR), which means a clean jersey for Dak and running lanes for Zeke. It’s just a matter of containing Aaron Donald Week 1, which even the most elite offensive lines struggle to accomplish.
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup combined for nearly 2,300 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last year. Gone is Randall Cobb to Houston, but the Cowboys reloaded with the addition of Alabama’s star receiver, CeeDee Lamb, who will begin his career out of the slot. New head coach Michael McCarthy leaned on three-wide receiver sets in the past when leading the Packers. So, Prescott will have plenty of elite targets to work with when he’s not handing off to his All-Pro running back.
The loss of Byron Jones in the defensive secondary is a big hole to fill and could leave the Cowboys susceptible downfield. It’s not a great sign when a defensive unit that finished with just seven interceptions a season ago loses its top coverage corner. The Cowboys secondary allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65 percent of their passes last season. Goff will definitely look to exploit this weakness Sunday night.
On the injury front, Amari Cooper is questionable with an undisclosed issue according to Monday’s week-of report. Something to monitor, but all bets are that he’s out there Sunday night. Oft-injured linebacker Sean Lee will open the season on injured reserve.
Los Angeles Rams News and Notes
On paper, the Rams offense appeared to produce at a high clip last season. Jared Goff finished fourth in pass yards per game and the offense seventh in yards per game, but the issue was that it only translated to 24.6 points per game, 11th-best in the league. So, changes were in order.
Los Angeles cut one-time franchise running back Todd Gurley due to durability and (lack of) production issues and traded receiver Brandin Cooks to the Texans in exchange for draft picks.
Much like Dallas returns the dynamic duo of Cooper-and-Gallup, the Rams boast the talents of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Check out their 2019 stats to see how in lock-step they were with Goff:
- Kupp: 94 receptions on 134 targets for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns
- Woods: 90 reception on 139 targets for 1,134 yards and 2 touchdowns
In addition to the Goff-Woods-Kupp trio, tight end Tyler Higbee produced one of the best seasons casual bettors might not know about. He caught 69 balls for better than 700 yards and three touchdowns. Higbee was as efficient as they come at the position, hauling in 80% of his targets.
Behind center, Goff will have rookie tailback Cam Akers out of Florida State. Running behind an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks last year (22) sounds great, but Pro Football Focus’ o-line rankings pegged them the 31st-ranked NFL unit last season. So, we’ll have to see if Goff remains upright and if Akers needs to get creative to survive those first few seconds out of the backfield.
Defensively, the Rams feature pass-rush nightmare Aaron Donald and one of the best cornerbacks in the game in Jalen Ramsey. However, they lost linebacker Cory Littleton to free agency. A middle-of-the-pack rush defense a season ago loses a top talent like Littleton and now must figure out how to slow down Zeke Elliott with fresh legs at the start of the season. Best of luck.
Betting Pick: Cowboys -3
I hate the fact that I’m backing a road favorite the first week of a pandemic-altered regular season. However, I think this game is an offensive shootout with Dallas featuring too many weapons for the Rams secondary to stop. The OVER 52 looks pretty good here, too.