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NFL bets bets for Week 5 from VSiN expert Matt Youmans

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NFL: Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Written off as a lost cause a month ago, the Cowboys are alive and kicking thanks to backup quarterback Cooper Rush. Rush is living out a fantasy, but he’s only about half of the story.

The Dallas defense is the biggest reason for the team’s success. The Cowboys have allowed a total of four touchdowns in four games while surrendering no more than 19 points in any game. Outside linebacker Micah Parsons might even be the most valuable defensive player in the NFL.

Aaron Donald and Rams will get a chance to quiet the Cowboys’ hype when the teams meet Sunday in Los Angeles. While the pressure Donald puts on Rush will be a factor, Matthew Stafford’s ability to move the ball against the Dallas defense will decide the game and point-spread result.

Stafford is struggling, to say the least, as he was sacked seven times Monday in a 24-9 loss at San Francisco. He targeted wide receiver Cooper Kupp 18 times in a one-dimensional offense that produced only 57 rushing yards against the 49ers. There’s no mystery to what the Rams are doing: feed Kupp early and often.

The Cowboys’ quarterback situation should be an easy call this week. Rush is 3-0 as the starter — beating the Bengals, Giants and Commanders — and it’s better to stick with his hot hand. Rush, who passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns against Washington, has not thrown an interception and has been sacked only twice.

Prescott, who had right thumb surgery on Sept. 12, does not need to rush back. He will reclaim the job when healthy, which seems likely to be Week 6 against the Eagles.

A Dallas defense that’s potentially dominant should be able to contain Stafford and handle the Rams’ predictable game plan. If Rush maintains his steady play, the Cowboys will be dangerous road dogs.

Pick: Cowboys + 5.5

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