Ezekiel Elliott is off to a slow start after his standout rookie season but looks to get untracked when the Dallas Cowboys host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Elliott, who has been dealing with the distraction of a court case involving his delayed six-game suspension for a domestic violence incident, is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry after posting a league-best 1,631 yards last season to go with a strong 5.1 average.
Elliott has gained 192 yards through three games and the Cowboys hope to get him going against a Rams’ defense that ranks 29th against the run (139 yards per game). “We’ve had a little bit of growing pains in the first couple games, but we’re getting there,” Elliott told reporters. “We’re getting into a rhythm and we’re planning on getting better every week.” Elliott’s counterpart with the Rams, Todd Gurley, is on the other end of the spectrum as he has bounced back from a down season with a strong September as he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month after rushing for 241 yards and scoring six total touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving). “You have your ups and downs in this game,” Gurley told reporters. “You know every year is not going to be a good year, and obviously I figured that out last year.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cowboys -6. O/U: 48.5
ABOUT THE RAMS (2-1): Los Angeles is averaging a league-best 35.7 points with second-year quarterback Jared Goff displaying signs as to why he was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 draft. Goff has completed 70.4 percent of his passes in first-year coach Sean McVay’s system for 817 yards and five touchdowns against just one interception. Standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald appears ready to begin making an impact after his training-camp holdout caused him to miss the season opener and record just five tackles and one sack in the ensuing two games.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (2-1): While Elliott searches for his form, second-year quarterback Dak Prescott accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in Monday’s win over Arizona and has passed for 689 yards and five scores against two interceptions. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 6.5 sacks - his career high is eight in 2015 - and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September - a nice start to his campaign, considering he will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. “I mean, it’s a contract year, so what?” Lawrence told reporters. “I want to be here forever. This year don’t define me as a player.”
1. The Cowboys hold a 13-11 regular-season series advantage while the teams have split eight playoff games between the 1973-85 seasons.
2. Dallas WR Dez Bryant (11 receptions, 114 yards, two touchdowns) leads NFL with 63 touchdown receptions since start of 2011 campaign.
3. Los Angeles WR Sammy Watkins (concussion) hopes to be cleared to play.
PREDICTION: Cowboys 34, Rams 27