The NFL will see a Hollywood playoff matchup on Saturday night as the Dallas Cowboys travel to southern California to take on the Los Angeles Rams. The winner goes to the NFC Championship game and the loser goes home.
The Rams secured the NFC’s No. 2 seed on the strength of an explosive offense led by third-year QB Jared Goff and star running back Todd Gurley. The defense, while loaded with big-name talent, often did not play up to its talent level, but got better near the end of the season.
The Cowboys were once 3-5 before going on a second-half tear, eventually finishing 10-6 and winning the NFC South. A strong defense that shut down opposing running games all season propelled the winning streak, while third-year QB Dak Prescott and third-year tailback Ezekiel Elliott played at high levels when it mattered.
A mid-season trade for wide receiver Amari Cooper revitalized Prescott’s season, as he finally had a legitimate downfield threat to open up the passing game. Despite only playing about half the season for America’s Team, he led the Cowboys in receiving yards.
The Rams might be the best offense the Cowboys have faced all year, so slowing them down will be a challenge. The goal will be to shut down Gurley as much as humanly possible and put the game in the hands of Goff. The former first overall pick faced questions about his ability down the stretch, especially after he registered a measly 19.0 passer rating in a loss to the Chicago Bears.
If the Rams can do what they do best and pressure Prescott into mistakes, it will be very difficult for Dallas to catch up.
Cowboys vs. Rams Divisional Playoffs Info:
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET, Saturday, Jan. 12
TV Network: FOX
Livestream: FOX Sports GO (Cable login required)
Betting odds: Rams -7.0 ( Bovada )
Expert picks for Cowboys vs. Rams:
Alex Perry, International Business Times – Rams
Anthony Riccobono, International Business Times – Cowboys
Mike Golic, ESPN – Rams
Mina Kimes, ESPN – Rams
Louis Riddick, ESPN – Cowboys
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times – Rams
Kirstie Chiappelli, Sporting News – Rams
Nate Davis, USA Today – Cowboys
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk – Cowboys