The second week of playoff football is often the best in my mind. Only eight teams remain with no bye weeks for any squads, and it’s usually four premier showdowns. On Saturday night, we will turn to the NFC to watch the surprising Dallas Cowboys head south to do battle with the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams had a great season under head coach Sean McVay, but did show some cracks late in the season – mostly as a result to injury.
For Dallas, it has been quite the unexpected season – but here they are, with a chance to advance to the NFC Championship. Dak Prescott has shown his limitations at quarterback, but this team still does many things well, as was on display last weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cowboys enter this game in fine form, and their recent ability could prove problematic for the talented Rams.
This has all the makings of a solid match-up, especially given the recent surge of the Cowboys under Jason Garrett. Keep reading on below the odds for a detailed analysis and betting prediction for Dallas vs. Los Angeles for the right to play in next week’s NFC Championship game.
Cowboys vs. Rams Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys +7 (-101)
@ Los Angeles Rams -7 (-119)
Over 49 (-115)
Under 49 (-105)
Cowboys vs. Rams Pick:
The Rams enter this game on paper an offensive juggernaut, but that is mostly because of the work this offense did in the beginning of the regular season when Jared Goff had Cooper Kupp to throw to. Since Kupp went down injured, the offense hasn’t been as prolific as before, and it’s definitely impacting the rest of their squad. Kupp wasn’t necessarily the most talented player on the Rams’ stacked attack, but Goff really relied on him and looked to him in crucial situations. Without Kupp, Los Angeles has struggled and this will likely be felt again on Saturday evening vs. the Cowboys. Dallas boasts an elite pass rush that should overwhelm the Rams’ offensive front and get into Goff’s grill. Goff has proven to be weak in these sorts of scenarios, and it could lead him into making some ill-advised errors.
Expect the Rams to go with a more run-heavy approach as a result, led by the talented Todd Gurley. Unfortunately for the Rams, the Cowboys have contained opposing runners very well all season. Last week against the Seahawks, they shut Chris Carson down, and while Gurley represents a step up in terms of class, I think the Cowboys will really limit the run game and this L.A. offense as a whole. Either way, Jared Goff will be forced to do some new and unique things against a pretty stout Cowboys defense, and I believe Dallas’ stop unit gives their offense a chance to be competitive in this one.
On the other side of the ball, look for Dallas to really utilize the running game vs. the Rams. Los Angeles has been quite porous in this area, especially of late. This has to be welcome news for a rejuvenated Ezekiel Elliott who remains one of the sport’s top backs. He should be able to plow through with regularity, consistently setting up the offense for short-yardage situations and first down chances. An effective run game will also nullify Los Angeles’ greatest strength – their lethal pass rush.
Through the air, expect the Cowboys to have some limited success with Amari Cooper, who has been really solid since coming over via trade from Oakland. Dak Prescott has been hit or miss of late, but if Elliott gives him an opportunity through many short yardage spots, Prescott will have the foundation to keep the chains moving.
With the Dallas defense being so solid right now, and Ezekiel Elliott entering this spot in fine form – the Cowboys clearly have the tools to hang around in what promises to be a very competitive match-up. The Rams are being vastly overrated because of what they accomplished in October and November, and Dallas enters as the team in better form right now. With such a big number, and this spread still trending upwards – look for us to be firmly on the Cowboys +7, maybe even netting a +7.5 by kickoff time. Enjoy the game, folks!
PICK = Cowboys +7 (-101)