When Rams have the ball
A Rams offense struggling to score consistently has a major challenge against an aggressive Cowboys defense that features stars Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence and ranks among the NFL’s best against the pass. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for a touchdown and had a pass intercepted last Sunday in a 24-17 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Star receiver Cooper Kupp will try to bounce back from a two-catch performance, and rookie Puka Nacua is looking to build on his eight-catch, 154-yard effort. With running back Kyren Williams on injured reserve for three more games, the Rams are relying on Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman to repeat their productive performances against the Steelers. Tight end Tyler Higbee dropped a pass against the Steelers, and coach Sean McVay has yet to make the veteran a consistent part of the passing attack. Right tackle Rob Havenstein is questionable because of a calf injury that sidelined him for several days of practice. Parsons has five sacks and Lawrence two for a Dan Quinn-coordinated defense that lost star cornerback Trevon Diggs in September because of a season-ending knee injury. Cornerbacks DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore have three and two interceptions, respectively.
When Cowboys have the ball
Last season Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was sidelined because of an injury and sat out the victory over the Rams. Prescott is back and has passed for six touchdowns with four interceptions. He also has rushed for a touchdown. Brian Schottenheimer is the coordinator for an offense that also features receiver CeeDee Lamb. The fourth-year pro has 34 catches and is averaging 14 yards per reception. Running back Tony Pollard has 25 catches, and receivers Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks and tight end Jake Ferguson are other weapons. Pollard is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and has rushed for two touchdowns. The Rams defense remains in search of turnovers. Against the Steelers, three Rams defenders tipped a pass on one play before it fell to the turf. Edge rusher Michael Hoecht had two sacks against the Steelers, but the Rams must apply more consistent pressure. The Rams also must avoid costly errors. Against the Steelers they had 12 men on the field for one play, 10 on another. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris took responsibility for the miscues. Cornerback Cobie Durant could have more opportunities on the outside and safety Quentin Lake’s role as a hybrid linebacker could grow.
When they kick
The Rams this week signed Lucas Havrisik off the Cleveland Browns practice squad to replace Brett Maher, who missed 51- and 53-yard field-goal attempts and an extra-point attempt against the Steelers. Havrisik has never kicked in a regular-season game. Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey has made all 16 field-goal attempts.
By the numbers
Gary Klein's prediction
The Rams are coming off a loss to the Steelers. The Cowboys are rested after an off week. Parsons and the Cowboys defense will be too much to overcome. COWBOYS 27, RAMS 21
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.