SNF Picks: Cowboys vs. Rams

by | Sep 11, 2020 | nfl

Dallas Cowboys (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)

When: Sunday, September 13, at 8 p.m.

Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.

TV: NBC

Point Spread: DAL -3/LAR +3 (SportsBetting.ag - EXCELLENT Live Betting Platform!)

Total: O/U 51.5

Outlook

This was supposed to be the historic first game in front of 70,000 Rams fans at the team’s brand-new facility, the first one ever built specifically for the Rams. But COVID-19 remains a thing, so the opening game at SoFi Stadium will instead be played behind closed doors, negating a significant home-field advantage for Los Angeles. What’s left is a rematch of a game that officially finished off the Rams’ faint playoff hopes in 2019, as Dallas throttled the Rams by a 44-21 count that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. If anything, the Rams have actually gotten worse since that contest, as they’ve seen Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks depart for greener pastures.

Dallas, meanwhile, attempts to do better with high expectations than it did a season ago. The Cowboys always have high expectations simply based on the fact that they’re the Cowboys. Still, expectations were higher than usual in Dallas last season because the Cowboys were coming off a division title and the NFC East appeared to be pretty weak. It wasn’t weak enough, as the Cowboys went just 8-8 last year and watched Philadelphia claim the division title, extending Dallas’ streak to 25 years without reaching even a conference championship game. Can the Cowboys finally build off expectations and become the team that the public expects?

How the Public is Betting the Dallas/Los Angeles Game

The line has shifted slightly toward the Cowboys, hitting that critical number of 3 after starting at 2.5. The point total has also ticked up from 50 to 51.5

Injury Concerns

Dallas:

Cornerback Jourdan Lewis missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury, while linebacker Luke Gifford was limited in practice. Dallas has placed right tackle La’El Collins and linebacker Sean Lee on injured reserve, which means both will miss this game.

Los Angeles:

Lineman Andrew Whitworth missed practice Wednesday for a rest day.

Get all of our takes on this week's games: NFL Picks Against the Spread!

When Dallas Has the Ball

If this game looks like last season, Dallas will be trying to pound the ball down the Rams’ throats. The Cowboys did it so effectively last season that Ezekiel Elliott took one snap in the fourth quarter, his job already done for the day. The Rams proved so inept at stopping the Cowboys’ ground game last year that Tony Pollard did more in the fourth quarter than Elliott did in the first three, racking up 131 rushing yards to lead all backs.

Whether that works again depends on whether the Cowboys can neutralize Aaron Donald, which might be a lot more difficult than last year. Last season, the Cowboys had Travis Frederick at center, and there aren’t many like Frederick, a five-time Pro Bowler who was forced to retire at the age of 29 after battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Without Frederick on the line, Dallas turns to Joe Looney, who served as the Cowboys’ center in 2018 when Frederick first had to step away because of illness. If Looney can keep Donald away from Elliott, Dallas easily wins this battle. Frederick won the battle last season by holding Donald to one tackle and no sacks, and while Looney doesn’t have to be that effective, he does have to at least hold his own.

If Elliott can get established, it should be easy pickings for Dak Prescott as long as he keeps the ball away from Jalen Ramsey. Los Angeles couldn’t really stop anyone down the stretch last year, as both Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyler Murray picked apart the Rams after Dallas decimated them in Week 15. If Amari Cooper is ready to go, it could be a big day for the Cowboys’ passing attack.

When Los Angeles Has the Ball

Where do the Rams go from last year? Los Angeles already couldn’t run the ball against Dallas, which got even harder with Gurley departing for Atlanta. Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown will split the duties in Week 1, and that’s hardly something that inspires confidence given that Akers is a rookie out of Florida State (and Florida State was a bad team in 2019) and Brown has less than 200 rushing yards in his NFL career.

The Rams are instead likely to have to put this game in Jared Goff’s hands, and that’s not always something that’s worked out well. Goff has come a long way from being a supposed bust, but there’s no denying that last year was a struggle, as Goff’s interceptions ticked up to 16, and his touchdowns fell from 32 to 22. What makes that number more of a worry was that Goff threw ten fewer touchdowns than in 2018 while throwing 65 more passes in 2019. The Rams need Goff to be able to win games rather than just not lose them, and that might be more than they can expect in this matchup.

Betting Trends

The “over” came in hot for both of these teams at the end of last year, as both went 3-1 versus the O/U line in December of last season. Beyond that, the Rams have actually been a great cover team under Sean McVay, as they’re 12-3-1 ATS in their past 16 matchups against NFC opponents. But when they’ve been an underdog, the Rams have been at their weakest. Los Angeles is 0-7-1 ATS in its past eight as a home underdog, although those games were at the Coliseum and not the new stadium. Still, with no fans, that trend might carry over.

When these teams meet, it’s a good idea to expect points. Not only is the over 7-3 in the Cowboys’ last ten road games, but it’s hit in four straight matchups between Dallas and Los Angeles. However, that doesn’t mean that you should expect a fast start — and the books aren’t either. The number that you want for the first quarter is 10, as Dallas’ past seven games and six of the Rams’ past seven — including the game against each other, which ended up going for 65 points — have featured 10 points or less at the end of 15 minutes. Right now, the books have the total right at 10 for the first quarter, which means you want to jump on the under before it drops to 9.5.

Weather Report

If the California haze clears up, it should be a good night for football, with temperatures hovering around 82 degrees and clear skies expected.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Dallas looks to be a better team than it was a year ago, while Los Angeles appears to be regressing. The Cowboys are likely to be the class of the NFC East, and although the Rams think they can challenge San Francisco, I think they should actually be more worried about holding off Arizona. The Rams might very well be the weakest team in a loaded division, and opening at home with no fans to help against a talented Cowboys team is really not what they need.

I expect points, and I expect the majority of those points to come from the guys with stars on their helmets. The number has already moved by half a point toward the Cowboys, so don’t wait until it gets to that -3.5 hook. Grab Dallas now while the line’s still at a field goal. Bet the game while it’s happening at the sportsbook with the BEST live betting platform on the web –> Bovada Sportsbook! Your credit card will work there for depositing and they’ll give you a 50% real cash bonus too!

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