Bleacher Report’s Expert NFL Divisional Round Picks and Predictions – Staff, Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report is okay in our book.

Our analysts once again have a unanimous agreement that the underdog will at least cover, and maybe even win outright in L.A.

”It’s time to give Dallas its due,” Sobleski said. “The Cowboys won eight of their last nine contests. They’ve done so by employing a ball-control offense complemented by big plays from Amari Cooper and a fundamentally sound defense. Dallas is going to make Jared Goff be patient and beat its defense. Goff wasn’t the same quarterback after the team’s Week 12 bye, averaging just 228.2 passing yards during the final five games. The Rams’ high-flying offense will likely stay grounded.”

Goff will of course continue to be without safety-valve wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who tore his ACL in November. The Rams lit up a bad Kansas City defense sans Kupp in Week 11, but the offense averaged fewer than 20 points per game over the course of L.A.’s next three games.

Tony Romo on how Cowboys can beat the Rams – Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today
When asked about the Cowboys’ chances as legitimate contenders, Romo cited two reasons why he thinks the Cowboys should be competitive Saturday night against the Rams.

“If you can stop the run and run the football, you’re going to be in every game,” Romo said. “If you look at the front seven of the Cowboys, they’re going to be in every game because the defense you just can’t go up and down the field on them. You just can’t. “

“This will be one of their tougher tests this week because their defense will keep them in the game. But you just have to score a touchdown in the second half at the right moment. And if you do, the Cowboys are absolutely in a position in which they can win the Super Bowl.”

The Keys to Every NFL Divisional Round Game – Danny Heifetz, The Ringer
According to Heifetz, Dallas is more about defense than offense.

The Cowboys have undergone an identity change this season. The team that was once built around the league’s best offensive line and perhaps the league’s best running back still is a run-oriented team—Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing yards—but Dallas’s defense has been the heart and soul of the team. This shift was highlighted in a 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football in Week 13. Key to that turnaround has been the play of rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith who, along with cornerbacks Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown and pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence, have put together a surprisingly strong defense.

How the Cowboys Forged a New Identity and Saved Their 2018 Season – Robert Mays, The Ringer
A look at what changed since the Cowboys were 3-5 and seemed dead in the water.

The Cowboys’ transition to a defense-first identity initially came as a shock, as just two seasons ago most people in the NFL thought their future would be headlined by their young core of offensive stars.

Instead, even as both players still play vital roles for the Cowboys, the offense has given way to a defense led by a collection of homegrown cornerstones, new linebacker talent, and a fresh coaching voice that’s tapped into the potential of this unit.

“I think we saw it last year at times,” veteran linebacker Sean Lee says of what the defense was building. “And then we had some injuries and had some drop-off, and we were young in certain areas. Then [we] got the combination of guys coming in, of guys going from Year 1 to Year 2, [passing game coordinator Kris] Richard—all of it kind of came together. We felt it.”

Gradual development from homegrown products like [Byron] Jones and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence formed the foundation of this Dallas defense. For this year’s Cowboys to truly make the leap, though, they also required an adrenaline shot to the heart.

Beyond the numbers they pile up, Smith and Vander Esch bring a new gear to the middle of the Dallas defense. No duo in the NFL covers more ground in less time.

NFL against the spread picks: Underdog trend good news for Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys, Chargers – Frank Schwab, Yahoo!
More good news for the Cowboys?

My first inclination was that Dallas’ defense, which has played very well in the second half of the season, could keep them in the game. But as the week has gone on, I’ve shifted to the Rams.

Los Angeles remembers what it was like to lose its playoff opener last season, and that experience will help. It was a great sign to get Todd Gurley back to practice. Dallas was also a much different team at home this season, going 8-1 at home (including the Seahawks win last week) and 3-5 on the road. The Rams were 7-1 at home.

The way the Cowboys can win this game is by running the ball a lot, and that is a weakness of the Rams. Los Angeles allowed 4.9 yards per carry, tied for third-worst in the NFL. If Dallas controls the game script, they have a chance. But if the Rams get out to a lead early, this game could get away from the Cowboys fast.


Scout’s Eye: It’s All About Getting To Goff – Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboy.com
Get to Goff and good things will happen.

For the Cowboys to win this game, they’re going to have to create problems for this Rams offensive line with their pass rush. This is where the Bears and Eagles were able to slow down them down. They affected the way Goff operated in the pocket and in turn it threw off their game plan. Get to Goff early and make him think about the rush and this game will turn in the Cowboys’ favor.

Five things to know before the Cowboys and Rams kickoff Saturday night – Stefan Stevenson, Star-Telegram
Of the five things, this one stands out.

3. Pressure Goff, stuff the run

How do you stop the Rams’ offense? Look to the Chicago Bears, who held the Rams to a season-low 214 yards and six points in a loss at Soldier Field on Dec. 9. The Rams (13-3) went 5-3 in the second half of the season, losing at the Saints 45-35 on Nov. 4 and against the Eagles 30-23 on Dec. 16. In their three losses, the Rams had eight turnovers, including six interceptions by Jared Goff. They had 11 total turnovers in their 13 other games and Goff had just six interceptions.

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence says he wants to take Jared Goff’s soul – Frank Schwab, Yahoo!
All of Cowboys Nation is a fan of the soul-snatching of Jared Goff.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is an interesting guy. And it seems if you’re a quarterback, you’d never want him after you.

Lawrence and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Rams in a divisional round playoff game on Saturday night. The Rams will be led by third-year quarterback Jared Goff.

Lawrence’s job will be sacking Goff, and he’s good at his job. Lawrence had 14.5 sacks last season and 10.5 more this season. And he has an interesting philosophy on quarterbacks.


Jerry Jones: Cole Beasley likely to play on Saturday in Los Angeles – RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys
Big Beas coming through in the clutch? Jerry Jones thinks he can, let’s hope so!

We’re about a day and a half away from the Dallas Cowboys kicking off the their Divisional Round contest in Los Angeles against the Rams and all week long there’s been a question hovering around the team… will Cole Beasley play?

The Cowboys receiver has had an ankle issue for some time now and his status for Saturday appeared to be somewhat in doubt. The final injury report for the week listed him as questionable, but that was on Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning when appearing on 105.3 The Fan, Jerry Jones all but confirmed that Cole will indeed play.

David Irving in trouble for drug-test failure – Mike Fisher, 247Sports
More bad news surrounding David Irving? You hate to see it.

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving has missed “multiple’’ mandatory drug tests in the last two months, sources tell me, putting in jeopardy not only any chance he has of participating with this team during the NFL Playoffs but also his chance of playing in the league anytime soon.

Irving’s off-field life continues to be plagued by legal turmoil largely related to conflict with his ex-girlfriend, with whom he shares a young daughter. And his on-field efforts have been marred in part by a high ankle sprain he sustained in practice on Nov. 2. But since incurring that injury, Irving has rarely shown up for work here inside The Star — not only missing participation in practices, but also declining to attend practice as an observer, declining to attend meetings or watch film, and declining to accept rehab help with the ankle and encouragement to stay active in the weight room.

”He’s just sort of checked out,’’ one person close to the situation tells me.

Source


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