Dallas Cowboys vs. LA Rams Pick
Dallas Cowboys (11-6 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (13-3 SU, 7-8-1 ATS)
NFL NFC Divisional Playoff Game
Date/Time: Saturday January 12th, 2019. 8:15PM (EST)
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
By Jay Horne, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +7/LAR -7 (Intertops Sportsbook)
Over/Under Total: 49.5
The Dallas Cowboys survived a difficult home stand against Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks last week to edge out a 24-22 victory. The Cowboys defense proved to be among the best in the NFL stifling Russell Wilson and a tough Seahawks run game for nearly the entire game. This week that Cowboys defense will need another big outing when they go against one of the best offenses in the NFL in the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have enjoyed the luxury of a first round bye and are currently listed as 7 point favorites over the visiting Cowboys. However, the Rams have not played their best football in recent weeks especially on the offensive side of the football.
NFC Divisional Losing Streaks
If you are not a Cowboys fan, then you have probably made the argument or heard someone make the argument that the Cowboys have not done anything significant since their dynamic run in the 1990s. It’s one of the classic faults of “America’s Team” that has been cursed by failure in the postseason. Last week, the Cowboys won just their 4th playoff game since their last Super Bowl victory in 1995. What makes that record even worse is the fact the Cowboys have never made it out of the Divisional Round since that 1995 season. Dallas is 0-9 SU in Divisional playoff games since 1995 making it the worst streak in the NFL during that time frame.
While the Cowboys will be trying to end their NFC Divisional drought, the Rams will be trying to overcome a similar historical deficiency. Los Angeles is making just their 4th postseason appearance since 2001 when they lost to the New England Patriots. Since that time, the Rams are also winless in the Divisional Round of the playoffs going 0-3 in the previous 16 seasons. Needless to say, recent history has not been nice to either the Cowboys nor the Rams. The good news for both fan bases is that one of these NFC Divisional losing streaks will finally come to an end Saturday night!
Cowboys vs. Rams Expectations
If you look at my preview for last week’s Seahawks and Cowboys game, I was pretty much dead on with everything I stated. I specifically expected the game to start slow as both offenses committed to the run and defenses held the upper hand. Eventually I expected the Cowboys run game to be too much for Seattle which also turned out to be true. Fortunately I was able to scathe by on the 1.5 point spread for a win and avoid a brutal backdoor cover that may have got some bitcoin bettors that got worse odds. One of many reasons it is extremely important to always ensure you are getting the best number from your bookie!
For this week’s NFC Divisional match-up, I am expecting another slow pace to open up the game. Despite the Rams dynamic offense, they have been known to be slow starters and this Cowboys defense is very good. Likewise, the Cowboys are not going to abandon their gameplan. They are going to get running back Ezekiel Elliott involved in every way possible and try to tire this Rams defense down. The Cowboys are a running football team. Everybody knows it and they do not care. They will try to be the more physical team again just like they showed last week against the Seahawks.
The major concerns I have for Dallas is that their offense is still very underwhelming. I have been harsh on quarterback Dak Prescott a lot this year but honestly he deserves the criticism. He has made many bad throws and his deep ball has been inefficient to say the least. The Rams are likely going to find ways to score. They are just too talented despite my upmost respect for this Cowboys defense. My question is can the Cowboys do the same? Specifically can Prescott make enough throws down the field and be clutch enough to put the ball in the end zone? If not, I don’t see the Cowboys winning this game.
Take Dallas -7
Despite the concerns I have for the offense, I still think the Cowboys are the play here. Last week, I told everyone to pick Dallas because of Seattle’s run defense that relinquished 4.9 yards per attempt throughout the season. As many know, the Cowboys offense is designed to run the football and they are at their best when they do so successfully. This week the Cowboys have another exploitable match-up when they go against a Rams defense that has given up 5.1 yards per attempt (YPA) which is the worst mark in the NFL. Not Atlanta, not Seattle, nor Kansas City’s helpless defense has been worse against the run than the Rams. If that storyline holds true again this week, the Cowboys will not only be at their best offensively but they could really utilize the ground game to keep the Rams offense off the field. There is simply too much upside in the match-up for the underdog this week!
Cowboys vs. Rams betting trends
The Cowboys have some momentum going for bettors going 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games. Dallas is also 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games on the road. Perhaps most importantly is the fact Dallas is also 4-1 ATS when playing against the Rams in Los Angeles. Despite the Rams impressive 13-3 mark SU, they are just 7-8-1 ATS for bettors. The Rams are just 4-7-2 ATS in their last 13 games overall and 1-3-2 ATS in their last 6 games at home. They have also lost 4 of the last 6 meetings against the Cowboys straight up.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take Dallas -7