Both the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams had promising starts to their season, with the former besting the NFC East rival New York Giants and the latter taking down the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals. But both teams couldn't string together consecutive wins, as St. Louis fell to the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas fell to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now both teams will go back to the drawing board in search of their second win when they face off on Sunday, Sept. 22. There's not a regular season matchup to go on from last year, but the Cowboys did win a Week 3 preseason game in 2012, which counts ... a tiny bit more than other exhibition games.
Let's take a look at both teams below.
Meet the Cowboys
The Cowboys gave a massive vote of confidence to quarterback Tony Romo this offseason, giving him a big contract. Thus far, he's played well, though he has had some trouble finding the end zone. He's completed 66 of 91 passes for 561 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
The real problem for Dallas lies in the running game. They are 27th overall in the league rushing the football with 62.0 yards per game. They need DeMarco Murray to pick it up, because they won't be very successful if the game is solely on Romo's shoulders.
Meet the Rams
Unfortunately for Murray and the Cowboys, this isn't likely to be the game their rushing attack gets moving. The Rams boast the No. 6 rush defense in the NFL, allowing just 61.0 yards per game. Fortunately for Romo and the Cowboys, however, the Rams have the No. 27 passing defense, allowing 330.5 yards to opposing quarterbacks.
The Rams are no slouches on offense themselves, though. Quarterback Sam Bradford is having a breakout season, and has led the Rams to the No. 4 passing offense in the league. If they can get Daryl Richardson going in the running game, this one could be very interesting.
Local Takes: Cowboys
Dawn Macelli of Blogging The Boys thinks that the penalty issues could be getting better for Dallas going forward:
While it is too early to draw any solid conclusions, it looks like the overall penalty situation in Dallas may be getting better, the pre-snap penalties from the offense are still an issue. Granted, three of the false starts came in Sunday's game at Arrowhead, a notorious place for causing such issues, but last year's second game was in Seattle, where the fans have a similar reputation. In that game there was only one false start. I'm not holding my breath, but perhaps some progress is being made.
Local Takes: Rams
Let's go back to the numbers. Quinn's season so far isn't just sacks; it's total pressure. Quinn had 8 hits and 26 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus, last season. This year, he already has six quarterback hits and seven total hurries. Even when he isn't sacking opposing passers, he's making their lives more difficult. And if sacks are all you care about, you should still be encouraged by those numbers because pressures translate to sacks.
Follow the Fun
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What Should The Dallas Cowboys Expect From The St. Louis Rams? http://t.co/m5IMMbcEid— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 18, 2013
Aeneas Williams points to 'technique' for the Rams' struggling secondary http://t.co/XEIHqHhLB9— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 18, 2013
From the Week 3 picks:
DeMarco Murray ran for 253 yards the last time these two teams met, in 2011. St. Louis' defense has improved considerably since then. And Dallas would actually have to run the ball more than its current average of 19.5 times per game to have another shot at history. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones chewed up the Rams' secondary last week. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant could do the same, or it could be a five-interception meltdown. You never know which Cowboys team you'll see from week to week. The same can be said for the Rams.
The pick: Dallas
Dallas opened up as 3-point favorites, according to OddsShark. The lines increased in favor of Dallas as the week went along, as well, with some sites having them as high as 4-point favorites.