Earlier this week, the Cleveland Browns took the NFL by storm, trading their “face of the franchise” to the Indianapolis Colts one year after drafting Trent Richardson with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL Draft. Luckily, this isn’t the offseason, and the news cycle has quickly churned towards this weekend, filled with a handful of notable matchups around the league. The St. Louis Rams are headed to Jerry World, where they will attempt to get back on track after their valiant 4th quarter-comeback attempt versus the Atlanta Falcons fell short. The Dallas Cowboys are coming off of an equally heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, after losing their lead as after a handful of costly turnovers in the second half. The Rams and the Cowboys are both sitting at 1-1, with undefeated divisional records. Who are the “experts” picking to come out of Week 3 with a winning record? Lets find out…
The St. Louis Rams’ pass rush will be a tough matchup for a bad Dallas Cowboys offensive line, and that advantage could stake the Rams to an early lead. The problem for the Rams is that neither their running game nor their passing game poses a huge threat to Dallas coordinator Monte Kiffin’s defense. Other than Jared Cook vs. the Cowboys’ safeties, most of the matchups should go Dallas’ way. In their Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, the Cowboys were really hurt by Alex Smith’s runs out of the pistol — but that’s not Sam Bradford’s game. Still, I think Bradford will play smart in Dallas, like he did in the second half in Atlanta last Sunday, when he was able to spread the ball around. The Cowboys will have to “max protect” Tony Romo more in this game than they would like … or else. St. Louis 17, Dallas 27
St. Louis at Dallas: The Rams didn’t beat the Falcons, but they sure beat them up. This is a punishing defense. Going into Dallas and coming out with a win won’t be easy, but this could be the league’s most ruthless defense’s first big coming-out party. On paper, this one screams Cowboys. Give me the Rams. Pick: Rams 27, Cowboys 23
Various NFL pundits are suggesting that the Cowboys will be making more adjustments to their offensive line. I’m sure Mrs. Romo is happy to hear that. The Rams have two safeties listed as questionable. I’m sure ‘Boys fans will be happy to hear that.
The best statistic in this contest is the Rams’ 6th ranked run D. If they can shut down ‘Boys’ RB DeMarco Murray, it might give St. Louis a chance in Jerry’s house. They might also chase Romo rather effectively (see above). Neither team can stop the passing attack very well, so expect a total score in the 50s.
However, if the Rams can’t hurry Romo all game, he and Dez Bryant could make mincemeat out of a relatively weak St. Louis secondary. (Please don’t tell Cortland Finnegan I said that.)
As for Monte Kiffin’s newly aggressive Dallas D, this will be a test of Sam Bradford’s improved play in 2013. Part O-line upgrade via pricey Jake Long, part offensive consistency for the first time and part under-rated WR’s including speedy rookie Tavon Austin–Bradford has looked better this September. Let’s see how he holds up against Kiffin’s pressure.
Straight Up: Dallas
Against the Spread: Dallas -3.5
Will the real St. Louis Rams please stand up? In the first half on Sunday they had their doors blown off by the Atlanta Falcons, being outscored 24-3. Then in the second half they were the superior team outscoring Atlanta 21-7. Did they just get off to a horrible start or did the Falcons just mail it in after they got a big lead? Sam Bradford on his current pace is set for 5,200 yards passing and 40 TDs and has yet to be sacked after getting sacked 105 times in his first three seasons. So I’m picking the Rams to upset the Cowboys, right? Well, no. If Bradford can go into Dallas and out duel Tony Romo, I’ll officially get on the band wagon. In the mean time, the Rams were absolutely torched by Julio Jones and now have the equally talented Dez Bryant to deal with. Rams 24, Cowboys 27
The Cowboys just lost a close one to a Missouri-based club (Kansas City), now here comes another scrappy bunch from the Show Me State. Dallas should be able to move the ball through the air against the Rams, and if I’m Tony Romo, Dez Bryant would be my first, second and third read all day long. If Bryant could play a whole game the way he did in the first half against the Chiefs, he’d be in Calvin Johnson’s class before long. Dallas 30, Rams 23
The Rams will hit the road to take on Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in monstrous Cowboys Stadium. The new Cowboys stadium hasn’t exactly been a huge homefield advantage since opening, and the Rams need to pick up some non-conference road wins to have any playoff hopes in the tough NFC West. If the Rams D-line can continue to slow down the run and get after the quarterback they should be in good shape. Someone on the defensive staff needs to identify the other teams best player (Dez Bryant) and gameplan a way to take them out of the game (unlike Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones), forcing other players to make the big plays. The Rams need to come out on the plus side of the turnover margin to win this game, finding a running game would be nice but if Sam Bradford can avoid a third consecutive game with a pick-6 it wont be necessary.Rams win 27 – 20.
Some sites prefer to merely throw out their picks, instead of outlining boldly predicted scores. In USA Today, four out of seven analysts picked the Dallas Cowboys over the St. Louis Rams. In the Week 3 “expert picks” for ESPN, 12 out of 14 picked the Dallas Cowboys to win, with only Merril Hoge and Mike Schlereth choosing against the presumed favorites. In CBS Sports’ “Against the Spread” predictions, the vote is split 50/50, with the Rams sets as a 4.5 point underdog on Sunday. However, in their “Straight Up” picks, all nine voters took the Dallas Cowboys as the victor.
For the second week in a row, the odds appear to be stacked against the St. Louis Rams. They are a young, penalty-prone roster traveling to the craziest stadium that the NFL has to offer. However, all the drunk fans in the world will not be able to keep Tony Romo from “Romo-ing” at the end of the game when Robert Quinn is gunning at him from the blindside. Give me the Rams, straight-up, for their first road victory of the season.