KEYS TO VICTORY: Dallas Cowboys vs St. Louis Rams matchup

The Cowboys return home to face the winless St. Louis Rams at 3:15 p.m. Sunday. Here is a look at what they need to do to even their record at 3-3:

Dallas Cowboys vs St Louis Rams

Dallas Cowboys vs St Louis Rams


Establish Running Game

If there ever were a week when the Cowboys ground game should gain traction, it’s this one. The St. Louis Rams surrender an average of 161.8 rushing yards per game – the most in the NFL. Rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who should receive the bulk of the carries after replacing the injured Felix Jones last Sunday, should make a splash. And if he doesn’t then it’s uncertain when, if ever, this season the running game will get back on track.

Get better in red zone
The Cowboys can move the football and pile up yards. But when they close in on the opponent’s end zone, their offense stalls. According to Stats LLC, the Cowboys have scored only six touchdowns in 18 drives when they have moved inside the 20-yard line. That 33-percent success rate is the second-worst in the NFL. Only St. Louis, the team the Cowboys play this week, has fared worse. The Cowboys have to do better maximizing their opportunities. And there’s no better time to start than this week.

Put them away

The Cowboys have played 11 consecutive games that have been decided by four points or fewer. In part, that’s their fault. At times during that stretch, they have failed to put teams away. Last December against the Redskins, for instance, the Cowboys built a 20-point lead. They ended up winning 33-30. Earlier this month, they squandered a 24-point advantage against Detroit and lost 34-30. This Sunday, the Cowboys are favored to win by a double-digit margin. But in order to meet Vegas’ expectations, they have to hold a lead.

Reduce the penalties
The Cowboys were assessed 10 penalties during their loss to New England last week. And they were docked 77 yards as a result. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who tried to create a culture of compliance in training camp, wasn’t happy that his team continued to commit one violation after another. This season, the Cowboys have been flagged 45 times – the 10th highest total in the NFL. They need to begin correcting the problem this Sunday against the Rams.

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