Cowboys vs. Rams: Updated Odds, Stat Predictions for 2019 NFC Divisional Game

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2019

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Rams have produced one of the most attractive offenses in the NFL since head coach Sean McVay took over in 2017, but one of the things missing from their resume is a postseason win.

On Saturday, the Rams face the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys in a divisional-round clash featuring two of the best running backs in the league.

In order to have a chance to advance to the NFC Championship Game, the Rams not only need Todd Gurley to perform well, but they must also get a good amount of production out of quarterback Jared Goff.

Dallas will once again rely on Ezekiel Elliott to set the tone on offense, but he needs to avoid running into Los Angeles' impressive pair of defensive tackles to achieve success.

The Rams are a seven-point favorite, but there's no guarantee of Los Angeles covering if Elliott keeps the Cowboys in the contest with another strong performance out of the backfield.

                                 

Updated Odds

Spread: Los Angeles -7

Over/Under: 49.5

Money Line: Los Angeles -330 (bet $330 to win $100); Dallas +260 (bet $100 to win $260)

Odds according to OddsShark.

                   

Stat Predictions

Ezekiel Elliott: 125 rushing yards, 2 TD

Elliott will end the divisional round as one of the top-performing individuals of the NFL postseason.

After racking up 137 rushing yards against the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round, Elliott comes close to matching that total versus another NFC West opponent.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys gestures for a first down against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Penning
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Saturday night's performance will be an extension of Elliott's strong road form, as three of his five best outputs of the regular season came on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.

Aiding Elliott's success will be the 23rd-ranked Los Angeles rushing defense, which gives up 5.1 yards per carry.

The NFL's leading rusher won't move the ball five yards every time he receives a handoff from quarterback Dak Prescott, but he'll have enough gains like that to extend drives at critical junctures of the contest.

Expect to see a heavy dose of Elliott once the Cowboys reach the red zone, as he scored six rushing touchdowns and caught two more within 20 yards of the goal line.

By achieving success on the ground for the second straight game, Elliott takes the pressure off Prescott and forces the Rams to stack the box and commit to stopping the run.

With Los Angeles committing numbers to stopping Elliott, it allows Prescott the opportunity to make a few big throws and put Dallas on top.

                                 

Jared Goff: 279 passing yards, 2 TD 

Goff will turn in the best performance of the two quarterbacks Saturday night.

With Dallas insisting on running the ball, Prescott won't have the chance to throw on every drive like Goff will.

Although Gurley will be a focal point of the Rams' offensive game plan, Goff's ability to stretch the field with his speedy wide receivers will be key to keeping McVay's team in front.

Goff's yardage total will surge because he will attempt a few deep passes to Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods in order to stretch out the Dallas secondary.

At home during the regular season, Goff threw 23 touchdowns and three interceptions, and in five of those eight contests, he threw three or more touchdowns.

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Goff won't throw for a trio of scores because he will turn to Gurley to finish drives in the red zone, but when he does launch a touchdown pass, it will help shift the momentum in the Rams' favor.

By producing a balanced offense, with Gurley attempting to match Elliott in rushing production, the Rams will put themselves in good position to win their first playoff game under McVay.

                           

Aaron Donald: 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks

Even though the Rams are susceptible to giving up long gains on the ground, their defense is still capable of making a difference.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald will find a way to make an impact on the contest by surging into the backfield and halting Elliott's progress or by sacking Prescott to force a long third-down situation.

Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

In the last two games of the regular season, the Defensive Player of the Year favorite recorded seven quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and four sacks.

Donald won't get that much pressure on Prescott on Saturday, but he will pop up in key situations with a sack that puts the Dallas offense under duress.

By recording a pair of sacks, Donald increases his total of multiple-sack games this season to eight while delivering a seventh game with two or more tackles for loss.

                           

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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