The second fixture of Wildcard weekend and arguably one of our games of the season takes place in Los Angeles as the #2 seed Rams host the #4 seed Cowboys. Whilst they’ve wobbled a little bit lately, the Rams enjoyed a very successful 13-3 season that saw them have a bye last week. Dallas enters this one in phenomenal form, winning 8 of their last 9 games to get to this point. In the premier time slot for NFL football, let’s take a look at our best bets in this one.
Where to Watch: ESPN, 7 Mate, or NFL Game Pass Sunday 12:15 pm
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams had a solid hitout against the 49ers in Week 17 before their well-earned by in the Wildcard round. Jared Goff looked back to his best in this one, throwing for 4 touchdown passes and no turnovers. Receiver Brandin Cooks was the primary beneficiary, hauling in 5 catches for 62 yards and 2 scores. Running Back C.J Anderson again filled in admirably for Todd Gurley, going for 132 yards and a score on the ground. After a month out of action, the Rams will hope Gurley is raring to go for this one.
Defensively, the Rams have been somewhat underwhelming this season. They’ve got a ton of star talent on paper but have given up some surprisingly huge scoring outbursts. They were somewhat better against the 49ers last time out, forcing 3 interceptions that included a Cory Littleton Pick-6. The rushing defence did somewhat struggle however, allowing a shade under 6 yards per carry. If they can’t contain Zeke in this one, they could be in trouble.
The Cowboys make the trip to Los Angeles off the back of a very competitive win against Seattle last week. Ezekiel Elliott again ran the show here, totalling 169 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Star Receiver Amari Cooper also had one of his better showings in recent weeks, hauling in 7 catches for 106 yards. I’d be remiss not to mention the strong play of Dak Prescott, who threw for 226 yards and a score, before adding a crucial late rushing touchdown to seal the win. If the Cowboys can regularly feed Zeke in this one, they’ve got a chance of the upset here.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been excellent all year and had another very strong display against Seattle last week. They were particularly strong in rush defence, holding Seattle to just 73 yards on 3 yards per attempt. The pass defence also was relatively effective, allowing only 226 yards on the day. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch continue to form one of the league’s premier linebacking duos, whilst DeMarcus Lawrence continues to generate consistent pressure. Coming up against an elite Rams offence, they’ll need to be at their best here.
Despite an excellent start to the campaign, the Rams really did stumble towards the end. If Todd Gurley isn’t 100%, this offence can go downhill fast. Dallas has also found a formula that works of late, pounding Zeke Elliott all game long. The Rams defence has been susceptible to the run this season and could be vulnerable against this excellent Cowboys rushing attack. Jared Goff’s recent struggled also make me question whether he can hang with this strong Cowboys defence. Through the key number of 7, I’ll take America’s Team in this one.
Over 49 Points
Whilst the Cowboys defence has played very well of late, this is one of the lower totals we’ve seen for a Rams game all season. With perfect conditions expected for this one, I believe the value is actually on the over here. LA have a huge edge in the coaching department and I think a solid Sean McVay game plan gets the Rams scoring in at least the high 20’s. Dallas have proven they are no slouches offensively either, scoring 22 or more in 6 of their last 8 games. Whilst I don’t think the scoring gets crazy in this one, 49 points just isn’t enough.
First Touchdown Scorer Analysis
With both of these Running Backs being the lynchpins of their respective offences, it’s tough to look past Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott to score first here. Amari Cooper is the main receiving threat for Dallas, whilst Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods are capable on the other side. Dak Prescott has also shown an affinity for rushing touchdowns of late and could be worth a punt as an outsider.
Score Prediction: Los Angeles Rams 27-23 Dallas Cowboys.