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Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys try to maintain their second-half surge as they travel to face the Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoff Saturday night

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It’s a NFC Divisional Playoff matchup in the City of Angels. The Dallas Cowboys are on the road as they travel out west to face the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night. Dallas advanced to the divisional round as they defeated Seattle 24-22 at home in the NFC Wild Card round last Saturday. Los Angeles had a bye last week: they defeated the 49ers 48-32 at home in their last contest on December 30. The Cowboys lead the all-time regular season series 13-12 though the Rams took a 35-30 win at home in the last matchup on October 1, 2017. The Rams took the last playoff meeting between the teams, winning 20-0 in the NFC Divisional round back on January 4, 1986.

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

Dallas Cowboys Review

Dallas managed to survive a battle with Seattle in the wild card round to earn just the second playoff win in the Jason Garrett era. The Cowboys now try to take down the Rams to earn a spot in the NFC Championship Game. Dallas led 10-6 at the half and trailed 14-10 after three quarters before taking advantage of a worn down Seattle defense. The Cowboys jumped in front 24-14 and recovered an onside kick after the Seahawks made it a two point game with 1:18 to play. Dallas outgained Seattle 380-299 in the game, picked up 23 first downs while allowing 11 and dominated time of possession by a 34:50 to 25:10 margin. The Cowboys committed the game’s lone turnover but managed to make the critical plays late.

Los Angeles Rams Review

Los Angeles had a bye week thanks to finishing with the second-best record in the NFC. The Rams jumped all over the 49ers early and then coasted to the victory in week 17. Los Angeles jumped to a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game and took a 28-3 edge with six minutes to play in the first half of the game. The Rams opened up a 48-17 lead in the fourth quarter before the 49ers cut the deficit in garbage time. Los Angeles was outgained 391-377 despite holding a 28-22 edge in first downs and a 31:50 to 28:10 edge in time of possession. The Rams forced four turnovers while not committing one in the contest.

Dallas Cowboys Offense vs. Los Angeles Rams Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense

Dallas rediscovered their ground game in the middle of the season and that proved to be a major boost for an offense that has struggled to put points on the board at times this season. The Cowboys have run for at least 100 yards in nine of their games this season with three other games seeing them put up 99, 94 and 98 yards, respectively. It will be interesting to see if Dallas tries to match Seattle’s penchant to pound the ball or if they’ll try a different tack. The Cowboys have run the ball 104 times for 385 yards and two scores in the last four games. In that span, Dallas saw their rushing total drop from 142 yards to 112 to 80 to 51 against the Giants. In the wild card game, the Cowboys got back on track as they ran the ball 34 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

Ezekiel Elliott is the team’s leading ground gainer with 304 carries for 1,434 yards and six scores. Prescott is next in line as he has run the ball 75 times for 305 yards and six touchdowns. Tavon Austin (six carries, 55 yards) and Rod Smith (44 carries, 127 yards, TD) are next in line. Dallas has 12 runs of at least 20 yards this season with Elliott accounting for 11 of them. The Cowboys have moved the sticks on the ground 113 times this season. Elliott led the league in rushing for the second time in three years and added 26 carries for 137 yards plus a touchdown in the wild card round.

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense

Los Angeles was a lot like Kansas City in the regard that their offense tended to pile up big point totals. That meant that the opposition had to give up on the run game, usually more often than they would have liked. The problem for Los Angeles was that they sent out personnel packages to defend the pass and ended up getting gashed on the ground. A lot of them were empty yards but the Rams did allow at least 100 yards on the ground in 11 of their 16 games, including each of their last five. Three times, the Rams allowed at least 190 yards on the ground. Over the last month of the season, Los Angeles gave up 134 yards per game, 5.1 yards per carry and four scores on the ground.

Linebacker Cory Littleton led the team in the regular season with 125 tackles (90 solo), along with five tackles for loss. Mark Barron (60 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble), along with defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh (59 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries), Michael Brockers (54 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) and Aaron Donald (59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries) are forces to be reckoned with in the front seven. Los Angeles allowed the opponents 17 runs of at least 20 yards and 101 first downs via the ground game this season.

Who Has the Edge?

This one is going to be an interesting strategic battle. We saw Dallas pound the ball on the ground against Seattle last week and it helped them advance to the divisional round. The Cowboys, should they employ that strategy here, has the effect of moving the chains and potentially setting up points, while also controlling the clock and limiting the Rams’ possessions. Wade Phillips is going to have to find a way to try and limit the ground game and force Prescott to the air. As it stands, the Rams were a sieve against the run this season. Dallas has the edge here.

Advantage: Dallas Cowboys

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense

Dallas doesn’t have the comfort zone of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten like they’ve had in years past. In fact, it wasn’t until the team made a deal at the trade deadline to get Amari Cooper from the Raiders that the passing attack has looked remotely dangerous. The Cowboys have been held under 200 yards through the air five times and in two other games, they were held to 206 and 208 yards. Dallas finally got things going through the air in the final quarter of the season as they had two 300 yard games. The Cowboys threw for 455 yards in week 14 against Philadelphia and 387 against the Giants in week 17. Against the Seahawks in the wild card game, Prescott hit 22 of 33 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception.

Dak Prescott has completed 356 of 526 passes for 3,885 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He has been sacked 56 times on the year. Cole Beasley is second on the team with 65 receptions for 672 yards and three touchdowns this season. Elliott chips in a team leading 77 catches for 567 yards plus three scores while Amari Cooper (53 grabs, 725 yards, six TD), Geoff Swaim (26 receptions, 242 yards, TD), Michael Gallup (33 receptions, 507 yards, two TD) and Allen Hurns (20 grabs, 295 yards, two TD) are solid targets when the team goes to the air. Tight end Blake Jarwin came on down the stretch with 27 receptions for 308 yards and three scores. Dallas has 39 plays that has covered at least 20 yards in the passing game this season. Gallup leads the team with 10 while Hurns has six. Elliott (four) and Cooper (six) have provided a spark in that department as well. In the win over Seattle, Cooper had seven catches for 106 yards while Michael Gallup (two catches, 18 yards) hauled in Prescott’s lone touchdown pass. Hurns suffered a open dislocation of his left ankle and had surgery earlier this week: he’s clearly done for the season.

Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense

Despite the prolific number of passes that the Rams defense faced thanks to their offensive prowess, they were decent against the aerial assault. Los Angeles allowed only five 300 yard games through the air this season. Of course, when they did get torched, they went big as the Vikings threw for 422 yards in week 4 while the Chiefs passed for 478 yards in week 11. Over the final four weeks of the season, the Rams allowed an average of 211.1 yards per game through the air. Opposing QBs threw five touchdowns against seven interceptions, were sacked eight times and posted a QB rating of 74.2 in those contests.

The Rams’ pass rush begins and ends with one man: Aaron Donald. He racked up 20.5 sacks to lead the league while also batting down a pass in addition to his other numbers this season. Ndamukong Suh (four pass defenses) is a distant second with 4.5 sacks while Cory Littleton (13 pass defenses) has four. Safety John Johnson III (119 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble, 11 pass defenses) led the team with four picks on the year. Littleton (TD) and Marcus Peters (43 tackles, eight pass defenses, TD) each had three while Troy Hill (34 tackles, tackle for loss, five pass defenses) added two. Lamarcus Joyner (78 tackles, three tackles for loss, sack, three pass defenses, fumble recovery), Samson Ebukam (40 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, TD), Blake Countess (nine tackles, two pass defenses), Sam Shields (22 tackles, tackle for loss, four pass defenses), Nickell Robey-Coleman (37 tackles, three tackles for loss, four pass defenses) and Aqib Talib (23 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery, five pass defenses) each had one interception. All told, the Rams totaled 65 pass defenses, 18 interceptions and 41 sacks as a team this year.

Who Has the Edge?

The Rams gave up some hefty number in the passing game this season, especially when it came to passing touchdowns. However, the team also proved to be good at being ballhawks as they were tied for third in the league in picks. Talib and Peters are two excellent cover corners who can lock down receivers. The Cowboys have one big play threat in Cooper, who was targeted just three times in week 1 against the Rams when he was still in Oakland. He finished that game with one catch for nine yards. Dallas is going to have to attack the middle of the field more than likely, meaning Beasley and Jarwin will have to step up. The battle of the interior offensive line of Dallas against Donald and Suh will be worth watching. This one is a wash.

Advantage: Push

Los Angeles Rams Offense vs. Dallas Cowboys Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense

Los Angeles has shown an ability to gouge opposing teams with the ground game this season, making their passing attack that much more dangerous. The Rams have run for more than 100 yards 11 times this season and cracked the 90 yard mark in two other contests. On nine of those 11 occasions, Los Angeles picked up at least 140 yards on the ground: twice, they went over 250 yards rushing. In the last four games of the season, the Rams averaged 139.5 yards per game, 4.9 yards per carry and six scores: two of those games were without Todd Gurley II.

Todd Gurley II leads the ground game with 256 carries for 1,251 yards and 17 scores while reeling in 59 passes for 580 yards and four scores. C.J. Anderson stepped in and ran 43 times for 299 yards and two scores after being signed while Malcolm Brown chips in 43 carries for 212 yards. Robert Woods (19 carries, 157 yards, TD) has been versatile on fly sweeps and similar plays while Goff adds 108 yards plus two scores. Los Angeles has moved the chains 134 times on the ground this season and they have 14 runs of at least 20 yards: Gurley II has 11 of them.

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense

Dallas has been pretty consistent in their run defense as they’ve allowed just six teams to break the 100 yard mark on the ground against them this season. In the final quarter of the season, the Cowboys have seen opposing teams run the ball 102 times for 418 yards and five scores. Dallas can’t complain too much about allowing 104.5 yards and 4.1 yards per carry on the ground in the last four weeks. One cause for concern for the Cowboys is that two of the three worst rushing totals against them occurred in the final month of the season. Indianapolis gashed them for 178 yards in week 15 while the Giants put up 143 in week 17. Those totals bookended the 147 yard performance they allowed to Carolina in week 1. In the wild card game, Dallas held Seattle to 24 carries for just 73 yards and a touchdown.

Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has piled up a team leading 140 tackles (102 solo) to go with three tackles for loss. Jaylon Smith contributes 121 tackles (82 solo) with 7.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. DeMarcus Lawrence (64 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery) and Sean Lee (30 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, fumble recovery) are other key pieces in the front seven for the Cowboys. Dallas has given up just nine runs of at least 20 yards this season while opposing teams have moved the chains 89 times via the ground game.

Who Has the Edge?

Dallas showed that they can step up and stop the run last week against Seattle. The difference in this one from last week is two-fold. For starters, last week’s game was at home at AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys. This week, they have to go on the road to deal with a hostile environment. Secondly, the Seahawks were rather complacent in their play calling and didn’t go to the air until it was almost a necessity. The Rams are aggressive and will go for the throat. They’ll pick you apart with the pass and then run the ball when you drop back in coverage. You can’t game plan for the Rams to just run the ball: that gives them the advantage here.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense

Los Angeles did plenty of damage through the air as they have a talented group of pass catchers that can make defensive coordinators tear their hair out. The Rams broke the 300 yard mark through the air nine times over the course of the season and went over 350 yards five times. Los Angeles slowed down a bit through the air in the final quarter of the season. The Rams averaged 241.1 yards per game through the air in those contests, throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions. Los Angeles was sacked seven times and posted a 74.5 QB rating in that span.

Jared Goff has completed 364 of 561 passes for 4,688 yards with 32 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions. He has been sacked 33 times. Cooper Kupp is fourth on the team with 40 catches for 566 yards and six scores. Robert Woods (86 grabs, 1219 yards, six TD) and Brandin Cooks (80 receptions, 1204 yards, five TD) are good targets as well. Josh Reynolds (29 catches, 402 yards, five TD) and Gerald Everett (33 receptions, 320 yards, three TD) are solid options, especially with Kupp done for the year. Todd Gurley II has reeled in 59 balls for 580 yards and four scores as a versatile threat out of the backfield. The Rams racked up 69 pass plays that covered at least 20 yards this season. Cooks (22), Woods (20) and Kupp (nine) were the primary targets in those big play situations.

Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense

Dallas has been fairly good against the pass this season. Only three times in their first 14 games did the Cowboys allowed more than 300 yards through the air. Two of those came in back to back weeks against Detroit and Houston in weeks four and five: the other was when Carson Wentz threw for 360 yards back in week 10 when this win streak started. Things were shaken up in the final two weeks of the season as Tampa Bay threw for 336 yards in week 16 while the Giants racked up 301 yards in week 17 action.

The Cowboys’ pass rush is led by DeMarcus Lawrence, who has 10.5 sacks to go with a pass defense and an interception. Defensive end Tyrone Crawford (34 tackles, two pass defenses) adds 5.5 sacks while Jaylon Smith (two pass defenses) has four sacks. In the pass coverage side of things, Leighton Vander Esch (seven pass defenses) and Xavier Woods (nine pass defenses) each have two interceptions to lead the team. Jeff Heath (85 tackles, four pass defenses, forced fumble), Lawrence, Chidobe Awuzie (71 tackles, 11 pass defenses, forced fumble), Jourdan Lewis (12 tackles, half a tackle for loss, pass defense, two fumble recoveries) and Anthony Brown (44 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, eight pass defenses) each have one interception. All told, Dallas has amassed 39 sacks and nine picks on the year while recording 64 pass defenses. Byron Jones leads the team in that category with 14.

Who Has the Edge?

Dallas is going to have a tough time trying to keep up with all the options that the Rams can go to through the air. It will be interesting to see if Marinelli goes with Vander Esch or Smith trying to cover Gurley II out of the backfield. There is no real shutdown corner for the Cowboys and it’s tough to contain both Woods and Cooks, not to mention the other secondary options that the Rams can utilize in the passing attack. If Dallas can’t get pressure on Goff, he’ll pick apart the Cowboys’ secondary. Los Angeles has the upper hand in this case.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

Dallas Cowboys

Brett Maher is 32 of 33 on extra points this season and has booted 29 of 36 field goal tries with a long of 62 this season. He’s worked out fairly well after beating out veteran Dan Bailey in training camp for the job. Deonte Thompson was the team’s kick returner with six runbacks averaging 24.5 yards with a long of 35 but he was let go and subsequently signed with Buffalo. Darius Jackson has averaged 22.5 yards on four kick returns with a long of 27. In the punt return game, Tavon Austin averaged 5.8 yards on 10 returns with a long of 22. Cole Beasley has averaged 5.5 yards on his 11 returns with a long of 14 this season. All told, the Cowboys have averaged 21.8 yards on 13 kick returns and 5.7 yards on 21 punt returns this season.

Chris Jones is the punter for the Cowboys. He’s booted the ball 60 times this season with a 44.5 yard average that ranks tied for 24th in gross average. Jones has a net average of 40.3 yards per kick, which leaves him just tied for 21st in that category. He ranks tied for 28th with 17 punts placed inside the 20 yard line with two touchbacks and 16 fair catches on the books. Dallas’s kick coverage has allowed opposing teams to average 26.5 yards per kick return on 25 attempts with a long of 44 this season. Opposing punt returners average 8.5 yards on 30 returns with a long of 30. Football Outsiders has the Cowboys ranked 24th in special teams play this season.

Los Angeles Rams

Greg Zuerlein is a weapon at kicker: he’s hit 35 of 36 extra points and 27 of 31 field goals with a long of 56 this season before getting injured during warmups against Arizona. He missed a few weeks with that injury. Johnny Hekker hit an extra point and his lone field goal attempt, which came from 20 yards. Blake Countess has been the lead kick returner for the Rams: he averages 24.6 yards on 17 returns with a long of 40. As a team, the Rams averaged 21.4 yards per return on 39 runbacks this season. JoJo Natson has been solid as a punt returner, averaging 10.8 yards on 26 returns with a long of 60. The team has a 10.2 yard average on 30 punt returns this year.

Hekker continues to do a superb job punting the ball: he had a 46.3 yard gross average on his 43 punts this season, putting him seventh in the league in that category. He had a 43.9 yard net average, which is fifth in the league, and put 21 punts inside the opponents’ 20 yard line while recording just two touchbacks. Kick coverage is pretty good for the Rams: they allow 22.5 yards per return on 29 kickoff returns with a long of 42. Los Angeles gave up 8.7 yards per punt return on only 12 attempts with a long of 22. Cory Littleton has blocked two kicks this season. Football Outsiders has the Rams as the league’s 17th best special teams unit.

Who Has the Edge?

While Maher has a big leg for the Cowboys, as evidenced by the fact that he boomed field goals from 62 and 59 as part of going six of seven from beyond 50 yards this season, the fact remains is he’s a 29 year old rookie. He has been inconsistent at times and was just five of eight on field goals in the final quarter of the season. Zuerlein is a force in the kicking game and when he’s healthy, he’s dangerous regardless of distance. Hekker is tremendous at pinning the opposition deep in their own territory as well. The Rams get the edge here.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Coaching

Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett seems to perpetually be on the hot seat in Dallas. Whenever the team stumbles a bit or comes up short in a big game, the rumblings start about how the Cowboys need a new voice, a new direction to lead them to success. Still, Garrett persists as he is on the sideline for this, his ninth season, in Dallas. During that time, the Cowboys have had just one losing campaign, with that coming in 2015 when the team went 4-12 after Tony Romo was injured twice, forcing the team to start Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore in multiple games each.

The biggest knock on Garrett is that his teams don’t get to the postseason. Despite a 77-59 regular season mark, the Cowboys have just three playoff appearances, counting this season, under him and only two playoff victories. Dallas has three division titles under Garrett but the fan base is growing impatient. Scott Linehan (11-25 with St. Louis from 2006-08) and Rod Marinelli (10-38 with Detroit from 2006-08) have had head coaching experience. Their track record shows that they probably are better suited for coordinator roles.

Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay is in just his second year as a head coach and, at age 32, you have to think he could have a long career ahead of him. The Rams have won division titles in both his seasons running the team and he has a 24-8 mark in the regular season. He’ll be looking for his first playoff win here after falling to Atlanta in the wild card round last season. Prior to taking the reins as the head coach of the Rams, McVay spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Redskins.

He has veteran assistants to lean on as Wade Phillips has been around for an eternity. He’s done and seen it all, having been a defensive coordinator or head coach every year in the league since 1981 with the exception of 2001. Phillips is 82-64 as a head coach with New Orleans, Denver, Buffalo, Houston, Atlanta and Dallas. Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has been tabbed as the head coach of the Packers but that shouldn’t impact the Rams as McVay is an offensive guru.

Who Has the Edge?

We have a guy that has been around the block a few times in the NFL as a head coach facing a guy that is in his second year. Normally, that screams mismatch but McVay’s ability to maximize the offensive potential of the Rams, coupled with his willingness to let Phillips handle the defensive side of the ball, shows a maturity that a lot of coaches lack. Garrett may have gotten a playoff win last week but it was more gifted to him than him outcoaching someone. It’s going to be a tougher challenge this week. Give the Rams a slight edge thanks to Garrett’s two playoff wins: without those, things would slant more toward Los Angeles.

Advantage: Los Angeles Rams

Intangibles

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas comes into this contest 22nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up 21.2 points per game this season. The Cowboys are 22nd in total offense with 343.8 yards per contest and stand 22nd in yards per play with an average of 5.4 yards a snap. Dallas is 6th in scoring defense as they allow 20.2 points per game. On the season, the team is 7th in total defense by allowing 329.2 yards per game and 8th in yards per play allowed as they give up 5.4 yards per play on average. Dallas is 12th in the league in giveaway/takeaway with an +3 margin this season.

The Cowboys are a dismal 29th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in only 48 percent of their chances. Defensively, Dallas has been sharp as they are 7th in red zone defense by allowing 51.02 percent of drives that reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Cowboys are above average in third down conversions, ranking 10th by converting 41.4 percent of their third down situations. Dallas’s defense is 27th in those situations as the opposition has a 42.3 percent success rate on their third downs. The Cowboys are 8th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 51.24 percent of the time this season.

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles comes into this contest 2nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up 32.9 points per game this season. The Rams are 2nd in total offense with 421.1 yards per contest and stand 2nd in yards per play with an average of 6.4 yards a snap. Los Angeles is 20th in scoring defense as they allow 24 points per game. On the season, the team is 19th in total defense by allowing 358.6 yards per game and 28th in yards per play allowed as they give up six yards per play on average. Los Angeles is 4th in the league in giveaway/takeaway with a +11 margin this season.

The Rams are a mediocre 18th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 57.5 percent of their chances. Defensively, Los Angeles has been average as they are 14th in red zone defense by allowing 57.69 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Rams are well above average in third down conversions, ranking 5th by converting 45 percent of their third down situations. Los Angeles’s defense is a solid 12th in those situations as they hold the opposition to just 37.2 percent success on their third downs. The Rams are 11th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 51.16 percent of the time this season.

Who Has the Edge?

There are two really key factors in this game that you have to watch out for. One is the Rams’ offensive attack against Dallas’s defense. The Cowboys have been stingy defensively this season and they kept Seattle in check last week. Los Angeles is going to have to convert in the red zone and that is going to be a test as Dallas was seventh in the league in defensive red zone TD percentage. On the flip side, the Cowboys were one of three playoff teams that were worse as converting red zone trips into touchdowns this season. Dallas has to prove they can put sevens on the board instead of settling for threes. This one is a wash given the problems both teams have inside the 20.

Advantage: Push

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

This one is going to be determined by how things unfold in the red zone. Dallas is going to try and be methodical, as they were last week against Seattle, when they held the ball for nearly 35 minutes. The Cowboys are going to try to keep the ball away from Goff, Gurley II and the rest of the Rams’ offense as much as possible. With that said, the Cowboys have to put touchdowns on the board, not settle for field goals. It’s a tough ask of the Dallas defense to slow all those weapons for the Rams, even if they have limited opportunities. Dallas is just 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff games and 0-4 ATS in their last four in January.

Even with Seattle having limited possessions last week, their drive in the final two minutes drove them to a back door cover. The Cowboys went over the total in that game as well as their week 17 finale against the Giants. Facing the Rams, who were second in the league to the Chiefs in scoring this season, there is always potential for fireworks. The over is 7-1 in the Cowboys’ last 8 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game. Los Angeles has seen the over go 4-0 in their last four at home and 4-0 in their last four divisional playoff games. Look for this one to end up over the number as well.

Updated on Jan 12 at 3:20pm EST

There’s no real surprises to speak of on the injury report in this one. Dallas ruled out David Irving again with a high ankle sprain but he’s barely seen the field this season. Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo is questionable again with a chest injury but it’s expected that rookie Connor Williams, who got the start last week and has run with the first team all week, will get the start here again. Safety Darian Thompson is also a question mark though he isn’t a starter.

The two key pieces that are questionable for Dallas are ones that could have a major impact offensively. Receiver Cole Beasley is questionable with an ankle injury while tight end Blake Jarwin also has an ankle injury. With Hurns done for the year, the Cowboys need Beasley to help take pressure off Amari Cooper. He hasn’t practiced all week however, leaving his status very much in doubt. Jarwin missed practice all week as well. Reports say that both players will be active and will test things out during warmups. Jarwin is expected to have a better shot at playing but with so much on the line, it might be hard keeping Beasley off the field as well.

The Rams are pretty much all systems go. Todd Gurley II was removed from the injury report Friday so he’ll be back in action after missing the last couple weeks of the regular season. With Anderson backing him up, that gives the Rams a nice safety cushion should Gurley II tweak something or the team wants to be conservative. Safety Lamarcus Joyner is good to go as well after missing week 17 with an injury. The only player on the injury report is backup defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks questionable, though he expects to play.

There is heavy rain projected in the Los Angeles area throughout the afternoon but the majority of it is expected to blow through before kickoff. Game time temperatures are expected to be in the high 50s under partly sunny skies. Perhaps most importantly, there is expected to be literally no wind to speak of, which helps the passing game. All in all, once the rain moves out, it should be a good day for football, especially given that it’s January.

The opening line for this contest had the Rams favored by 7 points with the over/under set at 49. During the course of the week, there hasn’t been a ton of movement as it went to Los Angeles -7.5 and stayed there most of the week before bouncing back to the Rams -7. The over/under bumped to 49.5 and then 50 before coming back down to where it stands now at 48.5 points. When the moneyline opened, the Rams were going off at -350 while the Cowboys were getting +310 odds. As the week has worn on, it has shifted to the Rams still prohibitive favorites, going at -300 or -310 while Dallas is going between +250 or +270 depending on the sportsbook.

Currently, 71 percent of the bets on the moneyline are backing the Cowboys in hopes of a cash in. When it comes to the point spread, 57 percent of the bets are backing Dallas +7 in an effort to cash in. As it stands, 51 percent of the bets are on this one going under the 48.5 point total set for the game.

The Rams were electric at home this season, rolling up 452.5 yards and 37.1 points per game in those contests. That included 332.8 yards per game through the air and a 161.9 QB rating. Dallas struggled a bit on the road offensively as they averaged 324.3 yards and 17.4 points per game. The Cowboys are going to have to run and control the clock: in the end, there’s just not enough weapons to go around as Dallas sees their season come to a close here thanks to the Rams Express.

Dallas Cowboys 24, Los Angeles Rams 34

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Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.

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#629 IUPUI 163
#630 Wisconsin-Green Bay -4
8:00pm
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#627 FIU 163.5
#628 Western Kentucky -13
8:00pm
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#625 Arkansas - Little Rock 140
#626 Texas State -11.5
8:00pm
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#623 Arkansas State 139.5
#624 UT Arlington -4.5
8:00pm
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#639 Loyola Marymount
#640 Gonzaga
9:00pm
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#641 Stanford 138
#642 Washington -10
9:00pm
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#643 Oregon 130
#644 Arizona -4.5
9:00pm
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#645 San Francisco -6.5
#646 Pacific 138
9:00pm
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#647 Hawaii 148
#648 Cal State Northridge -2
10:00pm
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#649 California
#650 Washington State
10:00pm
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#651 Oregon State 141
#652 Arizona State -5.5
10:00pm
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#653 San Diego -10
#654 Portland 134
10:00pm
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#657 UCSB -3
#658 UC Davis 131.5
10:00pm
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#659 Santa Clara
#660 St Marys
11:00pm
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#661 BYU -2.5
#662 Pepperdine 163
11:00pm
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NHL
#31 New Jersey 6
#32 N.Y. Islanders -150
7:05pm
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#33 St. Louis 5.5
#34 Boston -175
7:05pm
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#41 Anaheim 5.5
#42 Minnesota -180
8:05pm
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#43 Los Angeles 5.5
#44 Dallas -175
8:35pm
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Saturday, Jan 19
NCAAB
#629 James Madison
#630 Drexel
2:00pm
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Sunday, Jan 20
NFL
#311 Los Angeles Rams 56.5
#312 New Orleans Saints -3.5
3:05pm
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#313 New England Patriots 58
#314 Kansas City Chiefs -3
6:40pm
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