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NFL Divisional Playoffs: Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams
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10 Jan 2019 06:21 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. (Image Source: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams:

Series: Cowboys lead 17-16; Streak: Cowboys have won three of the past four; Last Meeting: Rams 35, Cowboys 30 (10.01.17)

Time: Saturday | 8:15 PM ET; TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers)

How They Got Here:

The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East for the second time in three seasons to punch their playoff ticket and earn a home game. With a balanced offensive attack and a solid defense the Cowboys controlled most of the game against the Seattle Seahawks before holding on at the end to advance to the Divisional round. With 13 wins, tied for the most in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams earned a bye. Head coach Sean McVay has led the Rams to the playoffs in his first two season, as they won back-to-back division titles for the first time since the mid-to-late 70’s (1973-79), as the boy wonder is looking to win his first postseason game (0-1).  

When the Cowboys Have the Ball:

In his second postseason start, Dak Prescott passed for 226 yards and a touchdown (1 INT) with an 83.6 passer rating. What makes him dangerous is his dual-threat ability. Prescott was one of two quarterbacks with 3,500-plus yards and five-plus rushing scores this season with 13 games in his career in which he’s scored both on the ground, as well as through the air. Coupled with Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott gives Dallas one of the two duos in the NFL to have rushed for six-plus touchdowns this season. Elliott is a beast who led the league with his 1,434 rushing yards (2,001 scrimmage yards). He put up 169 scrimmage yards last week (137 rushing) to give him 292 scrimmage yards in two postseason games, as he rushed for at least 125 yards both times. He runs behind an O-line that features two Pro Bowlers in tackle Tyron Smith and guard Zack Martin. The in-season addition of wide out Amari Cooper has been a game changer for the ‘Boys. That continued last week when he caught seven balls for 106 yards.

The Rams defense has been shaky at times but don’t blame defensive tackle Aaron Donald who has played up to his big payday. He led the league with 20.5 sacks, just the 11th player since the sack became an official stat in 1982 to crack the 20 plateau. Using his electric burst, Donald also led the NFL with his 25 TFLs. He has four sacks in the past two games and 9.5 in the past six at home. Special teams standout, linebacker Cory Littleton posted a career-high 125 tackles this season to lead the team. A solid all-around performer, Littleton led the club with 13 passes defensed, was second with nine TFLs, and third with four sacks. Safety John Johnson was also active this season with 119 tackles, four INTs, and 11 PDs.

When the Rams Have the Ball:

LA has the best offense in the conference, as they topped the NFC in scoring (32.9 PPG) and total offense (421.1 YPG). If there’s a back better than Elliott it’s Todd Gurley who led the league with 21 touchdowns. His three games with 200-plus scrimmage yards since 2017 are tied for the most with Elliott. He rushed for 101 yards in his only playoff game and went for 215 yards from scrimmage in his only meeting with Dallas. Triggering the offense is quarterback Jared Goff, who finished fourth in the NFL with 4,688 passing yards. He’s one of three players with 4,500-plus yards and a passer rating over 100. Wide outs Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods both had huge seasons. Woods led them with 86 receptions and 1,219 yards, both career highs, while Cooks wasn’t far behind as he had his fourth career 1,000-yard season (1,204) on 80 catches.

Dallas has a legit defense featuring Pro Bowler Demarcus Lawrence at defensive end. The pass rusher posted 10.5 sacks on the season and has two sacks, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble in four career playoff games. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins is a load on the inside and recorded his first postseason sack last week. Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has been a monster roaming the second level and led them with 140 tackles on the season. He’s recorded eight-plus stops in the past four games, including 10 in the Wild Card round. Pro Bowl corner Byron Jones (14 PDs) headlines their secondary.

Score: Cowboys 27, Rams 20

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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