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Preseason Preview: Cowboys Vs. Rams

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In the preseason, teams don't do a lot of advance scouting on the opposition, but we know that it helps to know who's looming on the other side of the field from the Cowboys. Here's a look at the Rams ahead of Saturday's game.

    The Opponent: The St. Louis Rams are the first visitors to JerryWorld in 2012. In a strange twist, they share a high likelihood of moving elsewhere with last week's opponents from San Diego. Perhaps the NFL wants Jerry Jones to share the benefits of a big new stadium with his fellow owners.

    Last Season: It was a full on mess for the Rams in 2011 with injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford, several offensive linemen and just about everyone who played or thought about playing cornerback. Steve Spagnuolo was axed as a result and the Rams landed the second pick of the draft. They're hoping trading that pick to the Redskins leads to a resurgence for a franchise that just about hit bottom last year.

    The Offseason: The Rams tried to fill every hole this offseason and ticked off quite a few boxes on the to-do list. Cortland Finnegan was signed to be the top corner and the Rams took a flier on troubled but talented Janoris Jenkins to assist him in the second round. Kendall Langford and first-round pick Michael Brockers should give the team more production in the middle of the defensive line. Scott Wells was signed away from Green Bay to play center and receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens were both added via the draft.

    The Line: Cowboys by 6.5, but that doesn't mean you should bet it. 

    The Coach: No offseason change might matter more than the choice of Jeff Fisher as the team's new coach. Fisher had a long run of success in Tennessee both on the field and in the realm of mustache fashion, but there's a lot of work to do in St. Louis. The plus to Fisher is that he's respectable enough to get that time.

    The Offense: Bradford's rookie season provided plenty of hope that the Rams found a long-term answer at quarterback. His second year was filled with steps backward in terms of both health and productivity, although it is hard to know how much was Bradford and how much was the lack of talent around him. It certainly didn't help that Steven Jackson was banged up early on because the offense's struggles just snowballed without the veteran there to help keep things under control. If both are healthy this year, the Rams should see a meaningful rebound when they have the ball.

    The Defense: Finnegan is a huge addition to a team that couldn't stop anyone last season and the pass rush should be strong, but there's not much to like about the team's linebackers and safeties. As we saw in Philly last year, having a good pass rush and corners doesn't help you much if you stink up the middle of the field and the Rams will stink up the middle unless Langford and Brockers make a huge impact.

    Key Matchup: The interior line vs. Langford and Brockers - Not to belabor the point, but the Rams defense is going to be easy pickings for opponents if they don't control the line of scrimmage. Conversely, the Cowboys' strengths on offense won't be worth much if they can't win the battles up front.