Continuing our series of offseason opponent breakdowns following the 2022 schedule release, theRams.com examines Los Angeles' Week 5 home opponent, the Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 9, 1:25 p.m. PT, FOX). TICKETS | SUITES
Beginning the season against the Buccaneers in the annual NFL Kickoff Game, the Cowboys didn't let a narrow 31-29 loss in Tampa Bay affect the rest of their season. Bouncing back with a 20-17 win over the Chargers in Week 2, they extended that win streak to five, taking a 5-1 record into their Week 7 bye. In those four wins after the Chargers, they put up 41, 36, 44 and 35 points.
Despite a mid-season lull in which they went 1-3 between Weeks 9 and 12, Dallas won five of its final six regular season games and appeared to have momentum going into the playoffs. Instead, they were upset by the sixth-seeded 49ers at home and eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card round.
The move that made arguably the most headlines this offseason was trading star wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Browns, effectively clearing the way for third-year pro CeeDee Lamb to become the Cowboys' new No. 1 receiver.
Dallas also signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington to a 1-year deal this offseason, giving quarterback Dak Prescott another target in the passing game.
Besides those moves, also of note for the Cowboys was releasing kicker Greg Zuerlein after his second season with the team. Zuerlein later signed a one-year deal with the Jets. They also released offensive lineman La'el Collins, who had been their starting right tackle since 2017 but had been in and out of the lineup over the last two seasons due to injury and suspension.
In the draft, Dallas bolstered its offensive line by selecting Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith 24th overall in the first round.
Mike McCarthy enters his third season as head coach of the Cowboys. He's compiled an 18-15 regular season record and 0-1 playoff record through his first two years.
What to watch for
Rams defense vs. Cowboys offense
Dallas' offense will look a little bit different for two main reasons: The Cooper trade and the health of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott told reporters after the season ended that he had been playing through a partially-torn PCL, which he sustained in Week 4. Even with that injury, he still managed to produce his fourth 1,000-yard rushing season in six years, also rushing for double-digit touchdowns for the third time in his career. It was evident the injury still had an impact on his play, though, which is why it will be interesting to see what a fully healthy Elliott looks like this year.
And with Cooper gone, Lamb and Michael Gallup become Dallas' top receivers, though they also drafted South Alabama's Jalen Tolbert in the third round.
The Cowboys' offense will look slightly different, but many of the same key contributors the Rams defense faced in 2020 are still on the roster this year, so it will be a good challenge for them early in the season.