This Sunday night gem was supposed to showcase the opening of the $5 billion SoFi Stadium, home to the Rams and the Chargers. Of course, the new venue will still get its debut, but without the benefit of fans and the atmosphere that comes with them.
Neither of these teams made the playoffs in 2019 but have expectations of making the postseason in 2020. The oddsmakers have this as the second highest-scoring game of the week and also tied for the smallest point spread.
The Cowboys lost six of seven of their one-possession games last season, so they’ll need to turn that statistic around in what is expected to be a close game on Sunday. Quarterback Dak Prescott is in a contract year while running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are under contract for the foreseeable future. It’s not surprising for a Dallas team that was fourth in the conference in scoring in 2019 to be expected to put up big offensive numbers for new coach Mike McCarthy.
Behind quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams are looking to return to their 2018 form that resulted in a Super Bowl appearance and placed second in the league in points per game. But they’ll have to do it without running back Todd Gurley, who is with the Atlanta Falcons. Malcolm Brown is now the top running back on the depth chart.
Betting Lines – Cowboys vs. Rams
Despite being on the road in a new stadium, the Cowboys are favored by two and a half points with odds of -110 against the spread and -140 on the moneyline. A bet on the Rams will pay -110 against the spread and +120 on the money line.
Close games were not Dallas’ forte in 2019, as they were winners in only one of their seven one-possession games. Their inability to win more of those games ultimately cost former coach Jason Garrett his job. Somehow, the Cowboys led their division in scoring and defensive points allowed and found a way to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
After their 2018 Super Bowl season, the Rams dropped to 9-7, partially because of Gurley’s limited availability. The lack of versatility from the running back position made it more difficult for head coach Sean McVay to be as creative offensively, and the Rams’ scoring per game dropped by over eight points, from 32.9 to 24.6. It will be interesting if McVay and quarterback Jared Goff can recapture that offensive magic from 2018.
Defensively, the Cowboys have a sizeable edge on the Rams and should be able to contain Goff and company from doing significant damage. The over/under of 51.5 would indicate that oddsmakers either think it will be a close game in the 20s or will get out of hand in favor of the Cowboys. The health of Elliott has been in question this offseason, and without the benefit of many opportunities for evaluation, we’re going to have to wait until Sunday night to see if the Dallas running back is close to full strength.
McCarthy is a seasoned head coach who led Green Bay to a Super Bowl title, although Packer fans would argue that they should have had a couple more given the talents of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Still, he had much more success than Garrett during the same time frame, so look for Dallas to be more aggressive on offense, putting pressure on a good but not excellent Ram defense.
The Cowboys should probably be favored by more than they are, but except for Dak Prescott’s and Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie year in 2016 when they won the NFC with a record of 13-3, they’ve largely underperformed over the last couple of decades. It remains to be seen if the addition of Mike McCarthy can get America’s Team over the hump.