Rams at Cowboys – NFL Pick for October 1st
Before the season began, Week 4’s tilt between the LA Rams and Dallas Cowboys probably wouldn’t have stood out. Three games is almost surely not a large enough sample size from which to draw too many definitive conclusions, but this will actually wind up being one of the more highly-anticipated matchups of the weekend.
The Rams are understandably fairly sizable underdogs here, but they do have the advantage of more time to prepare. The Rams haven’t played since last Thursday, while the Cowboys are on a short week after defeating the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. That gives Los Angeles four full additional days to prepare for this one, which is no small thing.
New head coach Sean McVay has breathed life into the Rams where Jeff Fisher couldn’t last season. L.A. is coming off a hugely impressive 41-39 win at San Francisco last week. While the 49ers stink, road wins in the NFL can be hard to come by, especially for teams with inexperienced quarterbacks.
Jared Goff looked completely lost last season as a rookie, but he looks like a new player altogether through three games this season. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Rams worked hard in the offseason to upgrade his weaponry. Goff is working behind an upgraded offensive line, and the team went out and added a few crucial skill position pieces in Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.
Now that the Rams are able to scare teams with the passing game, Todd Gurley actually has room to run. That wasn’t the case last season. Gurley already has 241 yards through the first three games of the season. Last year, he amassed just 885 through all 16 games. He’s on pace to blow by that total.
On the other side, we know what the Cowboys want to do. They want to dig in with their massive offensive line and pound teams to death with Ezekiel Elliott. While Elliott topped 100 yards in the opener against the Giants, he’s found running room harder to come by in the last two games. The second-year star has gained just 88 yards on the ground on 29 attempts against the Broncos and Cardinals.
Dallas is listed as a pretty heavy favorite here at -270 on the moneyline. They’re at home, and they’re the team with the more proven track record in this one, so it makes plenty of sense. The Cowboys are also 6-and-a-half point favorites, which is one of the bigger point spreads of any game on the schedule.
Unlike last season, we don’t expect the Rams to bow down and wilt under pressure. There’s a new moxie about this team with McVay in charge. Even if the Rams come up short in this one, we do think they’ll be able to keep it relatively close. The Cowboys’ defense has been nothing special through the first three weeks, and the Rams now have the kind of firepower to take advantage.
We like the Rams to cover that 6.5-point margin, even if they don’t wind up winning it outright. We’re buying what L.A. is selling so far this season, and the defense has enough playmakers to make life difficult for Elliott and company for a third straight game.