After a loss last weekend to the Atlanta Falcons, the St. Louis Rams are now floating even at .500 through the opening two weeks of the season. This week, they will face the volatile Dallas Cowboys, a teams with Top 10 talent, but Bottom 10 consistency on any given Sunday. With that in mind, the bold predictions for this week may get a little out of hand, with us mere morals having very little insight into which Tony Romo will come to play against the St. Louis Rams. So, sit back, and enjoy Ramblin’ Fan’s bold predictions for Sunday…
1. Tony Romo will “even up” his touchdown and interception columns
As it currently sits, the Dallas signal caller has three passing touchdowns and only one interception on the season. Tony Romo, as in the past, has not played well under pressure this season, throwing for only 144 yards when “hurried” on his throws. However, he has yet to face a front-four like the St. Louis Rams, where the Top 3 defensive ends in the rotation have all graded in the Top 15 pass rushers so far this season. We have yet to see Tony Romo get truly flustered, which may be why “Romo-ing” hasn’t been trending yet on Twitter. Look for it to start this week, with Robert Quinn and Chris Long making life miserable in the Dallas backfield.
2. DeMarco Who? Rams will keep Murray under 3.5 yards per carry
While the St. Louis Rams have been piss-poor in coverage through the opening two weeks of the season, they have dominated against the run, allowing only 122 total rushing yards (5th lowest), with an even touchdown-to-turnover ratio on the ground. Compound that with the Cowboys 10th-worst ranked run blocking offensive line and you have a recipe for success on the St. Louis side of the football. In fairness, DeMarco Murray has been successful as a pass catcher out of the backfield. However, those don’t count in the rushing yards average…
3. Jared Cook will return to Week 1 form, with 5+ catches, 60+ yards, and 1+ touchdown
The Dallas Cowboys have yet to play against a team with a legitimate option at the tight end position,and they’ll be in for a rude awakening on Sunday when Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook waltz on the field. Neither Bruce Carter or Justin Durant have dominated in coverage in the Cowboys’ new 4-3 system, even against mediocre players. Carter, in particular, allowed 36 yards on two catches to the Chiefs tight ends, Sean McGrath and Anthony Fasano, last week. On top of that, Will Allen and Barry Church have not drawn coverage on tight ends much this season, and will have to adapt quickly to St. Louis’ pair of pass catchers. Dallas will likely focus most of their efforts on Tavon Austin and Chris Givens, especially after getting shredded my Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles on underneath routes last week. If Jared Cook isn’t your top priority, he’ll be your worst nightmare. Look for that to show on Sunday!
4. Robert Quinn will retake the lead in the hunt for the Deacon Jones award
Currently, Robert Quinn is sitting in 3rd-place, slotted behind Mario Williams and Justin Houston. Williams tallied all of his sacks last week, after being relatively ineffective against the Patriots in Week 1, and Justin Houston took three games to reach his league-leading mark. Quinn, on the other hand, leads the NFL in total pressures, and single-handedly pushed Arizona Cardinals‘ Levi Brown to the bottom of the league in offensive tackle grades after Week 1. Tyron Smith is considers more strong than quick, and that will not bode well for him against the unique speed rush of Robert Quinn on the outside. Combine that with Tony Romo’s tendency to hold the ball for a couple seconds longer than he should, and you have should see another 3.0 sack performance from the Rams’ rising star on the defensive line.
5. Alec Ogletree will lead the team in tackles, again, and record his first NFL interception
Since 2010, no tight end in the NFL has been targeted more than Jason Witten, leading the league in both 2010 and 2012. So far this season, he has only been targeted on 20% of Tony Romo’s throws… but that will change on Sunday. After the Julio Jones mishap last week, the St. Louis Rams undoubtedly spent a majority of their defensive planning time around stopping Dez Bryant on the outside. Unlike Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning, Tony Romo is not a progression quarterback. If Bryant is being doubled, or can be locked down with some combination of man/zone coverage, Romo will hone in on Jason Witten, who will be mirrored by Alec Ogletree all game long. It will only take one errant dump-down from the Dallas quarterback for Ogletree to make his mark on the game, and we can certainly count on Romo making at least one of those throws this weekend.