The second round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs will kick off on Saturday with a primetime doubleheader wrapping up with a key showdown at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Dallas Cowboys will make the trip out west after their opening wild card win over the Seattle Seahawks to face off against a Los Angeles Rams team that won 13 contests during the regular season.
For these two teams, Saturday Night’s showdown will feature two of the NFL’s top running backs as Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley will both look to carry the workload while helping their respective team move on in the NFL playoffs. The last time these two teams squared off came back during last season with the Rams picking up the 35-30 win in Dallas. In that game Gurley managed to rush for 121 yards to go with 94 receiving yards and a touchdown while Elliott rushed for 85 yards with a rushing touchdown to go with 54 receiving yards and one touchdown reception.
While all eyes will be on the running game of both of these teams, the last meeting between these two teams came down to protecting the ball. The Cowboys failed to win the turnover battle as Dak Prescott threw an interception and Ryan Switzer loss a fumble while the Rams committed zero turnovers. The Switzer fumble came on muffed punt return that led to a Rams touchdown to cut the Cowboys lead to 17-13 in the first half while the interception would happen in the second half while also leading to three points for the Rams.
Here are the keys to the game for both the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams on Saturday January 12th, 2019 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.
NFL Keys to the Game
Dallas Cowboys – Find the End Zone Early, Run Elliott
The biggest key for the Cowboys in this contest against a Rams offense that has the ability to put up a ton of points is find the end zone early to get ahead. Once finding the lead, the Cowboys will need to turn to Elliott early and often to help run the clock while limiting the amount of possessions the Rams have over the course of the game. If the Cowboys can dominate the time of possession, they will leave Los Angeles with a win.
Los Angeles Rams – Bring the Pressure Up Front
The Rams are one of the most impressive teams on both sides of the ball with talented stars who can make big plays including Gurley, Robert Woods on offense and Aaron Donald on the defensive side of the ball. In this contest, while having enough fire power to get into a shootout, the Rams need to bring as much pressure up front with Donald and company to put pressure on Prescott. If the Rams can get Prescott under pressure, the Cowboys quarterback has shown he has a tendency to turn over the football.
NFL Betting Trends
Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys after a solid win to open up the playoffs will look to bounce back from failing to cover the spread against a very good Rams team. Entering this contest the Cowboys have posted an average 9-8 record against the spread this season while covering the spread in four of their eight road matchups. Along with those struggles the Cowboys have failed to cover the spread in four straight games in January as well as in four of their last five playoff contests. Despite the struggles the Cowboys have covered the spread in six of their last eight overall contests against teams in the NFC.
Los Angeles Rams – Despite posting a strong 13-3 overall record in the NFL standings, the Rams have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL for sports handicappers to cash in on. Entering this contest the Rams have covered the spread in just seven of those contests. That said, the Rams have been brilliant in Los Angeles covering the spread in seven of their eight home contests. The Rams have also had their fair share of difficulties on Saturday failing to cover the spread in five straight contests on Saturday while also failing to cover the spread in five straight against teams with a winning record.
Head 2 Head – For these two teams this will be just their third meeting over the past five seasons with the Cowboys winning two of the three matchups but only the second with the Rams playing as the Los Angeles Rams (Rams won in 2017 in Dallas).