Los Angeles- In the last regular game of the 2018 season against the 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams took care of business and dominated the game with a victory, and earned a first-round bye. Throughout the entire season, many analysts, as well fans thought the Rams could be in the Superbowl this year. In the first half of the season, the Rams looked like the Thanos of football. Everything was clicking for them. Their offense was ranked in the top five. Their special team playmaker Brandin Cooks gave the Rams some good field position almost every time he touched the ball and nobody could stop Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Sue on the defensive end. However, late in the season, their defense has been exploited and there have been some questionable playcalling down the stretch with games on the line.
The Rams have been plagued with miss tackles in the secondary, as well as being too conservative on first and second downs when they have the lead in the third quarter. In order for the Rams to get a victory over the Cowboys, they have to give Todd Gurley at least 22 touches. Gurley is the engine that drives the offense. They need to get him going early. Jared Goff has to be precise with looking off the Cowboys defenders. In the last two seasons, Goff has thrown 60 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions with a QBR of 100.
Goff has to take some shots down the field on this Cowboys’ defense. Last week Russell Wilson took advantage of the one on one matchup and it paid off big late in the 4th quarter. The Rams need to get the ball to Cooks early and let him be a factor. The Cowboys might try to put a defender over the top to help out with Cooks, so they will not get beat for big plays down the field, but that will open up plays down the middle of the field. If Goff plays big and Gurley gets over 150 yards on the ground, the offensive side of the ball will be in great shape for a victory.
On the defensive end, Sue and Donald have to be aggressive with getting to Dak Prescott. The Rams need to put a QB spy on him because Dak is a QB that can extend plays with his feet. Last week was a prime example of how he used his legs as a weapon to secure a victory with the go-ahead touchdown to get the Cowboys their 3rd playoff win since the 90′s era. The Rams will see a lot of Ezekiel Elliot and they need to stop him on third and short. Last week Elliot dominated the Seahawks on third down and that was one of the reasons why the Cowboys controlled the time of possession. Donald, Sue, and the Rams’ defensive front need to keep Elliot in the backfield. Elliot is averaging around 4 yards per carry and that is how the Cowboys have picked up their victories.
On the other side of the field, the Cowboys are proving a lot of critics wrong by winning games in nail-biting fashion. After they beat the Seahawks, the Cowboys face a defense that mirrors them. They need to double team Donald and somehow stop Sue if they want their running attack to work. The Rams’ defense plays a lot of man coverage and they get physical within the 5 yards to knock receivers off their route. They will blitz a lot. The Rams are very gutsy with dialing up a safety blitz or bringing the house if they feel like it is an urgency to get pressure on the QB. Dax has to be aware of the pressure and throw the ball away. He can not take a sack or have any type of mistakes, because the Rams can turn that into points in a matter of minutes. Amari Cooper will be a factor in this game. He lit the Seahawks up with 7 receptions for 106 yards. Cooper, Elliot, and Dax is the formula for controlling the Rams.
On the defensive side, the Cowboys frontline is proving critics wrong once again. A lot of people felt like the Cowboys’ defense was overrated, but once again the Cowboys’ defense quieted the critics by outperforming the Seahawks. They neutralized the number 1 rushing team in the league and punished Chris Carson on every play. It starts with the front, who have turned this team around. The Cowboys’ defense is ranked in the top 10 and not many teams can figure them out. They are ranked top ten in their run defense, which will be a key factor. If they can stop Gurley on third and short situations, it will force the Rams to throw the ball. If they can make the Rams one dimensional, it can get pretty interesting to see what team will come out victorious.
Both teams are a reflection of each other. They like to play smash mouth football and they play off their running backs. If the running game is solid, it could open up big opportunities down the field, because the defense will stack 8 players in the box to stop the run. This should be a great and interesting game for viewers.
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