Dallas looked like a potential moloch last week in a 24-22 win at Seattle, with an elite-run game that smoked for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 137 of those yards at 26 and only the threat of Elliott helped to establish any other aspect of the Cowboys' offense. Consider: In games where Elliott ran at least 100 yards this season, Dallas is now 7-1, with seven consecutive wins.
The rise of Amari Cooper, acquired through mid-season trading, helps keep the Cowboys in balance and gives quarterback Dak Prescott the downfield option he needs. Prescott threw for 226 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 22-of-33 pass against Seattle.
The violation of Los Angeles will probably not be difficult to keep up with. The Rams are second in the NFL when scoring, averaging 32.9 points per game. Tailback Todd Gurley has an average of 89.4 fast-flowing yards and 41.4 receiving yards per game, but he was out of the last two games of the regular season to have a painful knee rest. He returns to the line-up next to quarterback Jared Goff, who completes 64.9 percent of his passes for 32 touchdowns and 4,680 yards in Coach Sean McVay's flashy attack.
The defense of the Rams, especially the front three of Michael Brockers, Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, could be a difference. While the Cowboys try to play the ball with Elliott, those line liners, with 10 Pro Bowl matches in between, will be the first line of defense in Los Angeles. Linebackers Cory Littleton, Mark Barron and Samson Ebukam also have a remarkable years behind them.
The teams did not play this season, but met in Dallas in October 2017. The Cowboys had a 24-13 lead late in the first half, but the Rams scored in the second half on five consecutive possessions and won, 35-30.
The Rams have not reached an NFC title game since the 2001 season. The Cowboys have even waited longer since the 1995 season.
When: Saturday, 8:15 pm East.
True: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles.
How to watch on TV: Fox.
How can I stream online: FOXSportsGo app.
Opportunities: Rams -7.
What's next: The winner continues to the NFC championship game on January 20th. The winner of this contest would receive the NFC title game if the Eagles de Saints anger on Sunday. Otherwise, the winner of this game would travel to New Orleans. The Rams lost this season both from the Saints (on the road) and from Eagles (home). The cowboys beat the saints at home and beat the Eagles twice.
Match-up to view: Rams & # 39; s play-action transient match vs. the linebackers of Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith
This is the biggest strength versus strength matchup of the entire weekend. Goff led the NFL with 1.971 yards of play this season, because the Rams used it more often than any other team in the league. At those games, he averaged 10.0 yards per attempt and had a 112.3 passer rating. For the most part, however, there is a game action to attack the area attacked by linebackers that have been pushed forward by the run fake, and no team in the NFL has linebackers that can beat more ground than the Cowboys.
Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith closed the regular season as respectively the fifth and sixth highest linebackers of Pro Football Focus. Opposite offenses this season won only 1029 meters from the play-action against the Cowboys, the eighth lowest total in the NFL. Smith and Vander Esch combined to allow 16 total catches in their coverage this season from play-action, with only seven going for the first downs. That kind of avarice will be needed to keep the Cowboys in this. – Mike Renner, Pro Football Focus
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