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Cowboys, Rams both seek long-awaited NFC championship game return

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Los Angeles Rams operating again Todd Gurley is again for the staff’s divisional-round matchup with the Cowboys. (Photograph by way of Harry How/Getty Pictures)

Rams get at the board briefly: Los Angeles took the hole kickoff and marched down the sphere in opposition to the Dallas protection, however stalled within the purple zone ahead of settling for a 25-yard box function from Greg Zuerlein to take a Three-Zero lead. Operating again Todd Gurley, who overlooked the general two video games of the Rams’ common season, gave the impression to be again to his outdated shape, dashing 4 instances for 19 yards. Cowboys rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch harassed Rams quarterback Jared Goff on a third-down play, forcing an errant throw and the sphere function strive.

Pregame research: Dallas seemed like a possible juggernaut remaining week in a 24-22 win over Seattle, with an elite run sport that chugged for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 137 of the ones yards on 26 carries and simply the specter of Elliott helped arrange each and every different side of the Cowboys’ offense. Imagine: In video games the place Elliott rushed for a minimum of 100 yards this season, Dallas is now 7-1, with seven directly wins.

The emergence of Amari Cooper, bought by means of midseason business, is helping the Cowboys keep balanced and offers quarterback Dak Prescott the downfield choice he’s wanted. Prescott threw for 226 yards, a landing and an interception on 22-of-33 passing in opposition to Seattle.

Los Angeles’s offense most probably gained’t fight to maintain. The Rams are 2nd within the NFL in scoring, averaging 32.nine issues in step with sport. Tailback Todd Gurley is averaging 89.four dashing yards and 41.four receiving yards in step with sport, however he sat out the remaining two video games of the common season to leisure a sore knee. He’ll go back to the lineup along quarterback Jared Goff, who’s finishing 64.nine % of his passes for 32 touchdowns and four,688 yards in Trainer Sean McVay’s flashy offense.

The Rams’ protection, particularly the entrance 3 of Michael Brockers, Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, may just end up a distinction maker. Whilst the Cowboys attempt to run the ball with Elliott, the ones linemen, with 10 Professional Bowl appearances between them, shall be Los Angeles’s first defensive line. Linebackers Cory Littleton, Mark Barron and Samson Ebukam have additionally had standout years.

The groups didn’t play this season, however met in Dallas in October of 2017. The Cowboys had a 24-13 lead past due within the first part, however the Rams scored on 5 consecutive possessions in the second one part and gained, 35-30.

The Rams haven’t reached an NFC name sport because the 2001 season. The Cowboys have waited even longer, because the 1995 season.

When: Saturday, eight:15 p.m. Jap.

The place: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles.

The right way to watch on TV: Fox.

The right way to circulation on-line: FOXSportsGo app.

Odds: Rams -7.

What’s subsequent: The winner advances to the NFC championship sport on Jan. 20. The winner of this sport would host the NFC name sport if the Eagles disenchanted the Saints on Sunday. In a different way, the winner of this sport would shuttle to New Orleans. The Rams misplaced to each the Saints (at the street) and Eagles (at house) this season. The Cowboys beat the Saints at house and crowned the Eagles two times.

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Ezekiel Elliott will lead the Cowboys’ dashing assault. (Shane Roper/USA TODAY Sports activities)

Matchup to look at: Rams’ play-action passing sport vs. Cowboys linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith

That is the most important energy as opposed to energy matchup of all of the weekend. Goff led the NFL with 1,971 yards off play motion this season, because the Rams hired it extra steadily than another staff within the league. On the ones performs, he averaged 10.Zero yards in step with strive and had a 112.Three passer score. For probably the most phase, then again, play-action exists to assault the world vacated by way of linebackers who’re drawn ahead by way of the run faux, and no staff within the NFL has linebackers who can duvet extra flooring than the Cowboys.

Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith completed the common season as Professional Soccer Center of attention’s fifth- and 6th highest-graded linebackers, respectively. Opposing offenses handiest received 1,Zero29 yards off play-action in opposition to the Cowboys this season, the eighth-lowest general within the NFL. Smith and Vander Esch mixed to permit 16 general catches of their protection this season off play-action, with handiest seven going for first downs. That kind of stinginess shall be vital to stay the Cowboys on this one. Mike Renner, Professional Soccer Center of attention

Learn extra at the NFL playoffs:

The NFL linebacker has been devalued. Leighton Vander Esch is right here to switch that.

‘We were given it carried out!’: The interior tale of ways Patrick Mahomes landed with the Chiefs

What’s the name of the game to Nick Foles’s magic? The play of the Eagles protection.

Westlake Prime produced two Tremendous Bowl MVPs. On Sunday, they’ll meet within the NFL playoffs.

‘Regardless of the place I’m, I nonetheless take into consideration her’: A grieving father plans to play in opposition to the Patriots

Philip Rivers is operating out of time, making this week’s alternative that a lot larger

John Clayton: The four greatest questions heading into the NFL playoffs’ divisional around

NFL playoffs ATS alternatives: House favorites must fight to hide in divisional matchups

Those one-on-one matchups may just come to a decision the NFL’s divisional-round video games

Cowboys-Seahawks takeaways: Dallas is authentic on either side of the road

The Saints and Rams have been the large winners on wild-card weekend

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