Cowboys at Rams
Star running backs will be entrenched in the spotlight on Saturday as two-time league rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys visit the defending NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley and the Rams in an NFC divisional round playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Elliott, who had a league-best 1,434 rushing yards this season, added 137 more and scored a touchdown in Dallas' 24-22 win over Seattle last weekend.
"Both big-time players who can do everything you want them to do on the field, and embrace carrying the burden for their team," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Pro Bowl selections Elliott and Gurley. The 23-year-old Elliott will bid to become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards when he squares off against Los Angeles, which has been gashed for a league-worst 5.1 yards per rush. Gurley finished with 1,251 rushing yards and NFL-best 21 total touchdowns despite sitting out the Rams' final two games because of knee inflammation and soreness. The 24-year-old will need to overcome the injury as well as a Cowboys' rush defense that permitted an NFL fifth-best 3.8 yards per carry and limited the Seahawks' run-heavy offense to just 3.0 yards per rush.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Rams -7. O/U: 49.5
ABOUT THE COWBOYS: Quarterback Dak Prescott downplayed any lingering concerns about his health despite being added to the injury report after he came up a bit gimpy following a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter against Seattle. "Knee's good. I'm great," said the 25-year-old Prescott, who threw a touchdown pass to rookie Michael Gallup and also rushed for a score last week. In-season acquisition Amari Cooper followed up his third 1,000-yard campaign in four years with a team-best seven receptions for 106 yards versus the Seahawks, although he may find the going tough while lined up against cornerback Aqib Talib. Pro Bowl defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who led the team with 10.5 sacks, has collected two to go along with two fumble recoveries in four career postseason games.
ABOUT THE RAMS (13-3): Pro Bowl quarterback Jared Goff (4,688 passing yards, 32 touchdowns) had his name being whispered among the NFL Most Valuable Player candidates before a pronounced three-week slump silenced that talk. The excitement circling the Coliseum hasn't dimmed, however, as Goff expects the noise to be ratcheted up and said the atmosphere will be "fun, fun and electric." Robert Woods posted career highs in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,219) and receiving touchdowns (six) while fellow wideout Brandin Cooks had 80 catches for 1,204 yards. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald received the 2018 Deacon Jones Award after leading the league in sacks (20.5) and could join Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1986) as the lone players to collect at least 20 sacks and advance to the conference championship in the same season since 1982.
1. Los Angeles led the NFC in points per game (32.9) and total yards per contest (421.1) and ranked third in turnover differential (plus-11).
2. Dallas would match Pittsburgh (36) for the most postseason victories all-time should it win on Saturday.
3. Rams Pro Bowl LB Cory Littleton, who leads the team in tackles (125), recorded two of his three interceptions this season in a 48-32 win over San Francisco in Week 17.