The Los Angeles Rams kick off their 2020 season with the home opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Although fans will not be in attendance, this will commence the first of many home games at SoFi Stadium. Playing in their new, state of the art stadium attracts a lot of attention on its own, but their matchup against this well-balanced Cowboys’ team may be the most intriguing storyline for the Rams. Many have the Cowboys as the favorite to win, but most NFL analysts will agree that it is foolish to count out this Rams team that is loaded with potential. Here are 5 things the Rams must do to win this Week 1 matchup.
5 Things The Rams Must Do To Beat The Cowboys
Establish The Run Game Early
There’s no question that Sean McVay and the Rams’ offense prefer to move the ball through the air. The last time these two teams met, Goff was forced to throw the ball a whopping 51 times; the Rams ended up losing that game.
This play style can bode well against a relatively inexperienced Cowboys secondary, but any well-coached defense will be able to adjust to a one-dimensional offensive scheme. With that, the Rams need to ensure that Malcolm Brown (RB1) and Cam Akers (RB2) are able to get their touches on the ground early. This will keep the Cowboys’ defense guessing on each possession.
Both Brown and Akers, plus Darrell Henderson depending on injury status, have the ability to attack the heart of any defense strictly off of their skill-sets, but a lot of their success will fall behind this Rams offensive line. If they are able to create consistent holes in the run game, it will only benefit their passing game, which is their identity on the offensive side of the field.
Capitalize In The RedZone
According to RamsWire, the Los Angeles Rams ranked in the bottom half of the league (19th) in terms of their RedZone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 56.8% of their possessions in the RedZone. The Rams need to take advantage of their personnel in Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee as they are both prime RedZone targets.
Moreover, in order for them to keep up with the Cowboys explosive offense, they need to find the end zone consistently when inside the 20-yard line. The Cowboys defense ranked 6th in the league in RedZone touchdown percentage allowed; this will definitely be an uphill task for the Rams offense, especially considering that the Cowboys have made some key additions on the defensive side of the ball.
Win The Turnover Battle
This goes without saying.
The Rams defense is led by All-Pro defensive lineman, Aaron Donald. Not to mention his supporting cast consists of Michael Brockers and Samson Ebukam who have proven themselves as reliable run-stoppers and pass-rushers in recent years.
The front lines of the Rams defense is going up against a Cowboys offensive line that ranked 2nd in the league in terms of sacks allowed, but they are losing two notable starters: center, Travis Frederick(retirement) and right tackle, La’el Collins (injury reserve). The Rams pass rush needs to take advantage of these deficiencies. If they are able to slow down Dak Prescott in both the pass and run game, this game is likely to go in favor of the Rams.
It is a tough task for any team to slow down the workhorse in Ezekiel Elliott. The emphasis in containing the Cowboys running game falls on a young linebacking corps, led by first-year starter Micah Kiser. If this defense can take Zeke out of the equation, it will allow their linebackers to focus more on the zone-pass coverage and assist the secondary in slowing down the Cowboys passing attack. Again, the Rams need to take advantage of the Cowboys’ offensive line question marks.
Yes, the Cowboys are a dangerous team on paper, but they are also led by a brand new coach and system. If the Rams can conquer each of the points above, it will allow for Jared Goff to find his groove and pick apart this Cowboys secondary. Do not count the Rams out of this game. Regardless, this will be an exciting commencement to the 2020 NFL season.