NFL Divisional Round Cowboys vs. Rams, Odds & Prediction

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Ricky Dimon

NFL · 3 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The Dallas Cowboys perhaps figured that with a wild-card win over Seattle, they would be heading back to New Orleans for a rematch with the Saints (Dallas handed them their second loss of the season with a 13-10 upset in Week 13). But Philadelphia’s victory at Chicago one day later means the Eagles are destined for the Big Easy while the Cowboys are going west for a date with the Los Angeles Rams. Los Angeles tied New Orleans with a 13-3 record but settled for the NFC’s No. 2 seed as a result of losing the head-to-head tiebreaker. Let’s dive into our Cowboys vs. Rams Odds & Prediction.

Cooper trooper

Dallas receiver Allen Hurns (20 receptions on 35 targets, 295 yards, two touchdowns during the regular season) suffered a well-documented broken ankle in last week’s 24-22 victory over the Seahawks. That means Amari Cooper may have to pick up some slack; of course, that’s what Cooper was already doing since being acquired via a trade with Oakland in late October. In a Week 12 win over Washington, the former Alabama standout racked up 180 yards and two touchdowns. He was even better two weeks later, going for 217 yards and three scores during an overtime defeat of Philadelphia. Cooper recovered from a brief three-game slump by catching seven balls for 106 yards against Seattle.

Cooper’s arrival has done wonders for quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott has 15 passing touchdowns compared to only five interceptions in 10 games with his new favorite target. Elliott, with some pressure off, has been held to fewer than 85 rushing yards only twice during the same stretch. In seven games without Cooper, the former Ohio State star was kept under the 80-yard mark on four occasions. Elliott recently torched the Seahawks for 137 yards and one TD on 26 attempts.

Second chance

The Rams are a young team with a young head coach (32-year-old Sean McVay), but this is not their first rodeo in the playoffs. With the same core last year, Los Angeles earned home-field advantage as the NFC West champion but promptly lost to wild-card Atlanta 26-13.

“It was a game that I would’ve liked to play better; we would’ve all liked to play better,” said quarterback Jared Goff, who completed only 24 of 45 passes in that contest. “(It) ended not the way we would’ve liked it to. Hopefully, we can use some of those experiences as a positive and move forward with them.”

“I think that atmosphere was certainly something that was special,” McVay reflected. “I think there were some similar ones, but you can never truly mimic and emulate those playoff atmospheres. I think for us being a young team, specifically my first year in the role, you certainly can learn. I think there was a lot of things that you can draw on that from a positive to be able to play a home atmosphere, play a playoff game in that home stadium, and be able to use those things to learn from. But I would say that, really, each season’s such a new deal.”

That’s a good thing for the Rams, too, because they are looking like a different kind of beast this time around. Goff (32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) took a step forward and remained in the MVP discussion along with teammate and touchdown machine Todd Gurley until a minor December swoon. Through their first seven games (7-0), the Rams point differential was plus-107; in their last nine outings (6-3) they are just plus-36. Can they get back to their dominant ways just in time for the playoffs?

Trends

Dallas is 6-2 ATS in its last eight against the NFC and 4-1 ATS in its last five after gaining more than 350 yards of total offense in its previous outing. The Rams are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six at home, 0-4-1 ATS in their last five against opponents with winning records, 1-5 ATS in their last six playoff games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff home games.

The over is 7-1 in the Cowboys’ last eight after gaining more than 350 yards of total offense in their previous outing. It is also 5-2 in the Rams’ last seven against opponents with winning records, 4-0 in their last four at home, 4-0 in their last four divisional playoff games, and 9-4 in their last 13 after scoring more than 30 points in their previous outing.

Prediction

The Los Angeles Rams need to step up in this primetime slot as they surely did not last season in the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys have shown they can shut out a top offense before, as the Rams need to get on the board fast and early. But can they?

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