Rams vs. Cowboys NFL Preview – Free Pick
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Posted on 9/28/2007 6:51:31 PM
St. Louis Rams (+14) vs. Dallas Cowboys (-14)
Bet On This Game At our top Sportsbook – The Rams post-season aspirations have already taken some hard knocks and were only heading into Week 4. Here are a few of the harsh realities – it’s their first 0-3 start since 2002, the offense has only produced two touchdowns (both Torry Holt receptions) in three games and they have been outscored 51-9 in the second half. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that running back Steven Jackson is out this week with a partial groin tear and Mark Bulger is playing with two cracked ribs behind a patchwork offensive line that couldn’t stop Howie Long from talking his way to the quarterback. The Week 4 line has Tony Romo and the ‘Boys heavily favored (+14) but still it’s tough to imagine the Rams keeping this one close on the road at Texas Stadium.
With Steven Jackson on the shelf, Brian Leonard, a second-round pick out of Rutgers, should see the majority of the carries. Jackson struggled behind the Rams depleted offensive line until finally last week he showed signs of life carrying for 115 yards on 30 carries – unfortunately this positive development was quickly overshadowed by his injury. Over the first three weeks the Cowboys defense has held opponents to 86.7 yards rushing per game. The Rams need to run the ball effectively to take some of the pressure of their besieged quarterback.
With Orlando Pace gone for the year (his backup Todd Steussie lost in preseason) the Rams offensive line woes continued last week in Tampa when left guard Mark Setterstrom was lost for the season. Guard Richie Incognito is yet to see action due to a high ankle sprain and for the Rams sake the sooner the better. Head Coach Scott Linehan’s plan will be to max protect for his quarterback and attack with multiple short slants and crossing routes to Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett who they need to get more involved on now that he’s getting healthy. The Cowboys have given up six touchdowns through the air and, with corner Terence Newman doubtful again, they’ll need another outstanding effort from Anthony Henry who was named last week’s Defensive Player of the Week with two interceptions – one of which he returned for a touchdown – four passes defended and four tackles.
The Cowboys perfect season continued last week with a 34-10 win over the Chicago Bears. Quarterback Tony Romo excelled again throwing for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Romo’s passer rating of 111.9 puts him near the top of the NFL’s leader board as he continues to make good decisions and big plays. The Rams defense has struggled this season, so expect offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to attack early to build a lead at home. Terrell Owens had eight catches for 145 yards last week while tight end Jason Witten had six grabs for 90 yards and a touchdown. Garrett is making all the right moves so far this season.
If the Cowboys do manage a healthy lead they’ll feed the ball to Marion Barber who is beginning to earn most of the carries in Dallas. With a robust 6.4 yard per carry average and four rushing touchdowns, Barber has the ability to help control the clock and wear out a defense in the second half. The Rams run defense hasn’t been a strength this season as they are giving up 152.3 yards a game on the ground. The Cowboys could crack the century mark before halftime.
Dallas is 4-0 ATS in their last four games and if that isn’t enough, the Cowboys Cheerleaders just unveiled their 2008 swimsuit calendar (how they ever counted 16 months is beyond me, but I won’t argue).
NFL BETTING FREE PICK: COWBOYS AT -14
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