Perhaps the most inspiring element of Thursday night’s home victory by the Kansas City Chiefs over the Houston Texans is how normal the play looked on the Arrowhead Stadium field. The game was not dominated by penalty flags, in fact there were fewer than in a typical National Football League contest. The game did not have the look of squads clueless on which patterns their teammates were running, but rather both sides looked to be in near mid-season form.
Knowing this, we can proceed to the first Sunday schedule of games with acknowledgement that the first week of this NFL campaign, despite no preseason, may be much more true to form than we thought possible before Thursday night’s opening game. In other words, the best teams, squads like the Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, could be set to open their campaigns on a par of how they might have performed had they had a preseason to prepare for their regular season.
One of the most intriguing games on the opening schedule is the matchup in Los Angeles where the Rams will host the Dallas Cowboys. This was to be such a special day in Southern California, two franchises with rich histories meeting in the Rams new five billion dollar facility. The pomp and circumstance around the opening of this latest testament to football reverence will not have wide-eyed fans streaming through the gates to open this NFL season. Nope, like so many stadiums around the NFL, fans in the stands will be prohibited.
On the field, the Cowboys will come to town with their new head coach, Mike McCarthy, who was the mentor in Green Bay for 13 mostly successful seasons which included a Super Bowl win to complete the 2010 season. I have long suspected that one major ingredient in the Cowboys returning to a Super Bowl was subpar coaching. I know Jason Garrett had a lot of fans, most notably Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but from where I sit he was missing that element that distinguishes great coaches from men that simply put together game plans and stand on the sidelines each Sunday.
McCarthy has that added intangible, and the Cowboys are certain to benefit from his leadership.
His arrival in Big D has the Cowboys listed among the top six teams for winning Super Bowl LV next February in Tampa. Another team high on the list to compete for the annual presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy is the team that plays their home games at the site of this season’s Super Bowl, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have had their prospects elevated this year because of the arrival of Tom Brady to run their offense.
But, on the subject of teams with bright Super Bowl prospects, one squad not on that list is the Cowboys’ opening day opponent. The Rams were the darlings of football two years ago when they emerged from the NFC and met Brady and his New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. In that game, the Rams 2016 first overall selection in the draft had the luster scraped off his MVP type 2018 season. Jared Goff had a horrible Super Bowl performance that didn’t include Los Angeles scoring a touchdown.
Last year, like so many teams that lost the Super Bowl the prior season, the Rams had a down year and missed the postseason. They open this season with odds of them winning only about half of their games … and not this one.
The Cowboys come into the Rams new palace favored over the home team, and those that are backing Dallas’ chances have very good reasons. McCarthy has an offense to coach with skill position players that stack up favorably to any in the league, and a defense that can establish itself as one of the NFL’s best.
What we have here is an expected bright season for the Cowboys and a down-year following a down-year anticipated for the Rams.
But, while season long odds favor the Cowboys, the motivational factors playing into this opener swing dramatically to the challenged Rams.
Qoxhi Picks: Los Angeles Rams (pk) over Dallas Cowboys