DALLAS vs. ST. LOUIS
Kickoff: Noon, AT&T Stadium
TV: Noon, FOX
Radio: 9 a.m., 105.3 FM
Records: Dallas 1-1, St. Louis 1-1
Series: Tied, 14-14
Last meeting: Dallas, 34-7 (2011, in Dallas)
Betting line: Dallas -4, over/under 47
Weather: 88 degrees, 0% chance of rain
Once again, Dallas is playing a team from Missouri, but this time at home. Both teams are coming off a road loss and want a win to increase their playoff chances. The lack of running game from both squads will mean we could see close to 100 pass attempts in this game. Let’s see how these two teams matchup:
Dallas offense vs. St. Louis defense
The Cowboys offense has been inept to begin the season as they have only scored one more touchdown than their defense through two games. Both facets of the offense rank in the bottom half of the league despite the many weapons on this team. The Rams secondary has been blitzed so far this season and last week Atlanta’s Julio Jones had 11 catches, 182 yards and a touchdown. Will the Rams be able to stop Dez Bryant? If they don’t, are the Cowboys able to score touchdowns? Three offensive touchdowns in two games won’t cut it.
Dallas defense vs. St. Louis offense
After the Cowboys defense grabbed five turnovers against the Giants, they walked away with zero against the Chiefs. In a one-point loss, the ability to even get one takeaway could’ve made the difference in the game. The defense was able to get to Alex Smith four times, but also gave up touchdowns to the Chiefs in both red zone opportunities. While the Rams are struggling with running the football like the Cowboys, their passing game ranks fourth in the league with more than 325 yards per game. Dallas will need to prevent Rams Tight End Jared Cook and Wide Receiver Chris Givens from getting behind the safeties as both are averaging 18.9 yards per reception.
Edge: ST. LOUIS
Dallas running game vs. St. Louis front seven: DeMarco Murray and the Dallas offensive line will need to be effective this season if the Cowboys are going to be successful. With Romo, less is more as we have seen what happens when he has to do it all on his own. Not only does Murray need to play well, but also the Cowboys need the backups to contribute as well. Through the first two games, Murray has accounted for 82% of the Dallas rushing attempts and 89.5% of the yards. Sooner rather than later we need to see Joseph Randle in action as both Dunbar and Tanner have fumbled in consecutive weeks. The Rams have only allowed 61 yards rushing per game which ranks sixth in the NFL though the Falcons were essentially without Stephen Jackson last week due to a thigh injury (three carries and zero yards).
Edge: ST. LOUIS
After being a tackling machine in Week 1, Dwayne Harris showed off his returning skills against the Chiefs as he had a 35-yard kickoff return and a 22-yard punt return. Dan Bailey was perfect on three tries including a 53-yard field goal late in the game. The Rams Tavon Austin has been held in check the first two games of the season. He possess world-class speed, yet only has seven yards on five punt returns. Greg Zuerlein has been perfect on all five field goals this season.
We could compare food, skyline, or other professional teams, but there is the old adage that crime doesn’t pay. St. Louis ranks in the top five most dangerous cities in the U.S. with twice (24.81 per 1,000 people) the amount of reported violent crimes compared to Dallas (12.06).
The Cowboys are playing at home where they defeated the Giants in Week 1, but are just 18-15 at AT&T Stadium. If not for a furious second-half comeback, the Rams would’ve been blown out in Atlanta. Does the Cowboys offense find its rhythm in Week 3? Will Sam Bradford relish in his first opportunity to play in front of family and friends at AT&T Stadium (missed 2011 game)? This game will be another close one for a Dallas team that can ill afford to fall to 1-2.
Prediction: Dallas 30, St. Louis 28
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook