Los Angeles Rams (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
The Rams are a little bit of an overrated team. They’re definitely better than they were last season, with an improved offensive talent around an improved Jared Goff, but I think the general public overestimates how much better. In my roster rankings, I have them 26th, so they’re not awful like last season, but they’re still one of the weaker teams in the league. They still have issues on offense, including Goff, who remains untrustworthy, and their defense has issues outside of the defensive line, even with Wade Phillips taking over as defensive coordinator.
They’re 2-1, but those two wins came against two of the worst teams in the league, the Colts and the 49ers, and they struggled to put away the latter last week in what ended up only being a 2-point win. Their loss came at home to the Redskins in a game in which they were thoroughly outplayed and lost the first down battle 21-14. The Cowboys are not the same team as they were last season, losing two starters on the offensive line this off-season (Ronald Leary and Doug Free) and losing top interior pass rusher David Irving for the first 4 games of the season with a suspension, but I still think they’re about 5 points better than the Rams right now.
However, I’m actually taking the Rams this week for two reasons. One is that the Cowboys’ homefield advantage is barely noticeable, as they tend to attract fans wherever they go. They are just 30-29 straight up at home since 2010, with an average differential of 1.80 points per game. Contrast that with their road record of 31-27 over that time period, with an average differential of -0.48 points per game. Their homefield advantage is really only worth about a point. Despite that, the oddsmakers usually don’t correct for that and the Cowboys are 21-37 ATS at home since 2010, including 13-29 ATS as a favorite and 6-16 ATS as a favorite of 6 or more.
The second reason is that outside linebacker Sean Lee could miss this game after not practicing all week with a hamstring injury, which would be a huge blow to a Cowboys defense that has a lot of problems even with Lee healthy. With Lee’s uncertainty and the Cowboys’ lack of homefield advantage, I have this line calculated at -5.5, so we’re getting slight line value with the Rams, although it’s not nearly enough for me to be confident in them. If Lee is ruled out and this line doesn’t move, I might move this up to a low confidence pick, but I wouldn’t bet on either of these teams this week.
Dallas Cowboys 30 Los Angeles Rams 24
Pick against the spread: LA Rams +6.5