Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
On Saturday evening, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-22 in the NFC Wild Card to advance to the next round of divisional playoffs. However, they would not know whether they would travel to play the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or travel west to play the Los Angeles Rams. What stood in the way of those travel plans was the outcome of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles versus the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
On Sunday evening the Cowboy travel plans were to prepare to head west to play the NFC West Divisional Champion Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles were able to fight back late in the game against the Bears in the fourth quarter to take the lead. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Tarik Cohen made an impressive return to provide the Bears with an excellent field position with less than two minutes on the clock. The Bears moved the ball some but settled for a fourth down field goal attempt.
The game could not get any bizarre as just before the snap, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson called a timeout to ice the Bears kicker. Despite the timeout, Bears kicker Cody Parker nailed the 43-yard field straight down the middle. On the ensuing play, this where it becomes bizarre, the ball is snapped, perfect placement, but Parker would hook it right as it struck the top right-side goal post, and down to the crossbar and then fall to the field missing the field goal.
The Cowboys will travel to Los Angeles after going 7-1 in their last eight games to play the Rams. The last time these two teams met, the teams played at AT&T Stadium, as it seemed as if the Cowboys were going to embarrass the Rams early. However, in the second half, the Rams defense buckled down, and the offense received a rejuvenation at half-time.
However, it was the leg of Rams kicker Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein who kicked a record seven field goals to help the Rams defeat the Cowboys by the score of 35-30 in a thriller. Rams running back Todd Gurley provided the boost with a 53-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown juking Cowboys safety Jeff Heath to get free.
The Rams who received a first-round bye this week after defeating the San Francisco 49ers last week at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be prepared and well rested. Gurley and safety LaMarcus Joyner are available for the game on Saturday, and Rams have no other players on medical watch.
When the Cowboys meet the Rams, they will see a different and more dynamic style of offensive players on the field. Added was Brandin Cooks and recent veteran signing of C.J. Anderson will make the Cowboys prepare hard for this game. Gurley and Anderson give the Rams different style of a two-headed monster run game a bit different than of the Saints Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
However, they cannot just rely on running down the Cowboys' throat like they accomplished last season as their front seven is solid. The linebacking crew of veteran Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, rookie Leighton Vander Esch, and Damien Wilson can contain the run and cover down the field. They are the anchor of the Cowboys defense and will not allow Gurley to be averaging over 5.0 yards per run like last season gaining 121 yards for the game. The Cowboys defense will be a fascinating matchup for the Rams offense on Saturday.
On the other hand, the Rams defense needs to be very concerned with Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott. Both players can hurt the Rams running the ball, but Elliot can also catch the ball after collecting 77 receptions to lead the Cowboy team.
The Cowboys lost a starting receiver in Allen Hurns as he dislocated his ankle and Cole Beasley banged up too. Former Rams receiver Tavon Austin provide a spark for the Cowboys against the Seahawks as he made two impressive punt returns taking one back for an 80-yard touchdown. However, for Austin demise, it happens again, another punt return for a touchdown nullified by a holding penalty. Austin will look to stick it to the Rams after trading him to the Cowboys during the 2018 NFL Draft, or the Rams defense will give him a welcome home punishment.
The Rams have opened up as a seven-point favorite over the Cowboys, guaranteed to have a sellout for this matchup. Rams will seek to get their first playoff win under head coach Sean McVay after losing his first against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card last season. The Rams have cashed in all their chips to make this a Super Bowl or Bust ride decision.