Last Updated: 2019-08-13
A trip to Hawaii is supposed to be cause for celebration. That may not entirely be the case for the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys are a 2.5-point favorite for the neutral-site game at Aloha Stadium, which appears to be the NFL’s apology for taking the Pro Bowl out of Hawaii.
The reasons why the game is in Hawaii don’t matter for a slew of degenerate bettors, who will be happy to see late-night football on a Saturday with a 10 p.m. kickoff to allow them to chase those Major League Baseball losses. Money came in heavy on the Cowboys shortly after this line opened and the total is sitting at 43.
This is a long way to go to play an exhibition game, as the teams will have some joint practices and take in some sights before Saturday’s game. The Rams will be part of several community events. The Cowboys do hold their training camp in Oxnard, California, so it’s not like they’re flying in from Dallas, but still.
The market spoke very quickly on the Cowboys, but injuries have created a murky outlook for this one. Eighteen players missed practice for Dallas on Monday and practice was cut a little bit short by head coach Jason Garrett. Some promising rookies, Luke Gifford and Brandon Knight, were among those sidelined with injuries. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are unlikely to play this week. The Cowboys are also thin at tight end, where linemen have filled in to create some jumbo packages in practice.
No surprise, but Sean Lee has been banged up again throughout camp. Robert Quinn is playing, but he’ll serve a PED suspension when the regular season rolls around. DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford sat out last week’s games. We’ll see if they’re back this week.
The predominant storylines for the Cowboys right now are all about contracts. Dak Prescott wants to be paid fat stacks and Ezekiel Elliott is also unhappy with his checks. Elliott is holding out and has not participated in any team functions. Jerry Jones praised Tony Pollard after the Week 1 loss to the 49ers with a little bit of passive-aggressive language from the Cowboys’ football czar. I’m guessing this week’s blueprint features a lot of Pollard, as the Cowboys look for Zeke alternatives.
The Cowboys threw the ball 50 times last week. Forty-six of those attempts went to Cooper Rush and Mike White. Rush looked okay, completing 16-of-26 passes for 142 yards. White did not, as he was just 9-of-20 and was sacked three times. Prescott will play more this week and we should see more of Alfred Morris, Randall Cobb, and Amari Cooper. The Cowboys’ first-team offense should get at least a quarter, maybe more, especially if the goal is to assimilate somebody like Pollard in with the starters.
The Rams scored three points against the Raiders in a lackluster and boring NFL Preseason opener. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and several players on the offensive and defensive lines had the night off. The Rams have very little to prove in the preseason. Sean McVay is still 4-5 in the preseason in his Rams tenure, but you can bet that he’ll take it easy with all of his top guys again this week.
Goff will play a bit. Gurley won’t in all likelihood. It will be the Blake Bortles show for most of the game, as McVay tries to get comfortable with his new backup quarterback. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Bortles fails to beat out Brandon Allen if he keeps turning in performances similar to last week. Bortles was 3-of-8 for 50 yards. In fairness to Bortles, the Rams didn’t play any of their top wideouts for him and opted to look more at guys like KhaDarel Hodge and “the other” Mike Thomas.
The Rams have a lot to work on with their offensive line. While they only allowed one sack, Allen, Bortles, and John Wolford were responsible for eight of the team’s 22 carries because of scrambles.
Perhaps that’s why the line has moved. Or maybe there is some intel out there that Goff won’t play again this week.
Jason Garrett is awful in the preseason with a 12-22 record and he’s lost five straight after a 3-1 campaign in 2017. And, yet, money is coming in on the Cowboys and it has come from sharp action well in advance of the game. Goff did not play last year’s second preseason game either and I would anticipate that the line move is under the impression that he won’t play here either.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys -2.5
With that in mind, the Cowboys get the nod. It would be a surprise to see Cooper Rush and Mike White throw as much as they did last week, which means some more reps for Tony Pollard, Jordan Chunn, and Mike Weber, who all had successful college careers. Chunn and Weber also combined for five receptions last week, so the Cowboys may use the backs with high-percentage throws in the passing game again.
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