Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Cowboys OT Tyron Smith (neck) was added to the injury report Thursday as a limited participant.
- Rams OT Rob Havenstein (calf) was added to the injury report Thursday as a ‘DNP,’ somewhat concerning considering he was not present on the report Wednesday.
- The Cowboys and Rams are both in the bottom half of the league in seconds per play and the middle third of the league in pass rate over expectation.
- The Rams are coming off of their highest rush rate over expectation in a game this season… with a running back they signed off the street.
- The Rams and Cowboys are both near league-average in plays per game at 65.4 and 65.3, respectively.
- Both teams are in the top half of the league in opponent plays per game at 57.8 (Cowboys) and 62.7 (Rams).
- We’re likely to see a below-average number of total plays in this one.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams sit in the bottom half of the league in seconds per play (20th-ranked 28.8 seconds per play) and had been near the top five in pass rate over expectation until their most run-heavy game of the season in Week 7, a game played with a primary running back who was signed off the street that week. Yes, Darrell Henderson had been with the organization previously, but the play-calling tendencies exhibited by Sean McVay against a Steelers team with an elite pass rush but not much else as far as proven defensive prowess goes was interesting, to say the least. If nothing else, it proved that McVay is one of the more opponent-specific game-callers in the league. That’s also interesting because the Cowboys present a similar on-paper matchup per DVOA and general defensive tendencies, with the major departure that the Cowboys play a lot more man coverage than the Steelers.
Dallas has faced just 161 rush attempts against through six games, primarily a function of the game environments they find themselves in. They have allowed 4.2 yards per carry and are around the middle of the pack, with 1.32 yards allowed before contact. Nothing in the matchup appears overly prohibitive on the ground other than routinely negative game scripts forced by the Cowboys this season, yielding near-average values in yards allowed before contact, DVOA, and yards allowed per carry. Kyren Williams was placed on injured reserve prior to Week 7 with his ankle injury, which left the team scrambling to find a back they were comfortable with in pass protection, only to carry their highest rush rate over expectation of the season via Darrell Henderson. Henderson’s 18 carries for 61 yards was about as expected, considering he was out of football for so long, with it likeliest he was utilized as the starter for his ability in pass protection as opposed to some otherworldly rushing ability. I don’t know for certain how McVay views this matchup, but I would subjectively view this spot as more conducive to aerial production against man coverage, considering Tutu Atwell and Cooper Kupp are on the roster, two players that crush man. Either way, Henderson and Royce Freeman split snaps almost down the middle a week ago and could do so again here, leaving little room for upside considering the likeliest path of attack.
Matthew Stafford is tied for third in total pass attempts through the first seven weeks of the 2023 season (256, or 36.6 per game). The Cowboys are in man coverage at the third-highest rate in the league this season (33.7 percent). Cooper Kupp has an elite 37.0 percent targets per route run rate against man coverage this season, followed by Puka Nacua (21.7 percent) and Tutu Atwell (21.3 percent). As we’ve talked about previously, Tutu has served as the primary pre-snap motion man in this offense in 2023. As we also had previously discussed, Puka Nacua had largely struggled against man coverage prior to Week 7 before shredding the elevated man coverage rates from the Steelers, bumping his seasonal averages to 0.43 fantasy points per route run and 2.05 yards per route run against man coverage. This is a far more difficult matchup on paper than it was a week ago against the Steelers, but it’s a relatively similar setup in that the strength of the defense is the front seven. The Rams are around league average in 12-personnel usage with zero snaps from 21-personnel this season, meaning we should see a highly concentrated pass offense amongst Kupp, Nacua, Atwell, and tight end Tyler Higbee, the latter of who is in a route at an elite 89.6 percent rate but has seen his targets per route run rate dip all the way to 15.2 percent this season. From a macro perspective, this offense should primarily run through Kupp and Nacua until further notice.