The Dallas Cowboys completely stifled the run game of the Seattle Seahawks on Wild Card Weekend and will go from game-planning for the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense to possibly the NFL’s top running back when they play Todd Gurley and the LA Rams in the NFC divisional round. Dallas opened as a 7-point underdog against the NFC’s No. 2 seed with the total opening at 49.5.
Cowboys Defense Put the Country on Notice
If you didn’t watch a lot of Dallas games this year and just looked at results, you might only be familiar with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper as the game-breakers for America’s Team. A lot more people were tuned in against Seattle and a lot more people now know that most of the damage for the Cowboys is done with those three on the sideline.
The Seattle Seahawks, who led the NFL in rushing this past season, were held to just 73 yards on the ground this past weekend, including a 28-yard run by Rashad Penney. Chris Carson, who averaged over 80 yards per game on the ground, was held to 20 yards on 13 carries.
An area where the Cowboys defense was exposed in the first meeting with the Seahawks was on third down. A huge determining factor in the playoff win was keeping Seattle to two third-down conversions on 13 tries, leading to a 35-minute time of possession stat for Dallas’ offense.
Rams Will Provide a Different Threat
The Rams differ from the Seahawks in that LA is a pass-heavy offense despite having one of the most talented running backs in the game in their backfield. LA ran 568 passing plays to 459 running plays this season for a 55/45 split.
Ironically, with Gurley out of the lineup in the final two games of the season, Sean McVay ran about 67 percent rushing plays in getting two wins to close out the schedule following consecutive losses to playoff teams Chicago and Philadelphia.
Ironically, even though the Cowboys have the No. 8 rushing defense and No. 22 passing defense, Dallas was 10-1 SU in games where the opposing offense had more passing attempts than rushing attempts. This includes wins over New Orleans and twice over Philadelphia – the other two teams remaining in the NFC.
My Best Bet for Saturday
I really like the Cowboys to cover the spread on the road. Zeke Elliott was a beast against Seattle and I don’t foresee that slowing down against the NFL’s No. 23 rush defense.
While the Rams proved that they could score points all year, when they ran into some tighter defensive play vs Chicago and Philadelphia late in the season, the results weren’t there. With Todd Gurley playing on one leg and a season full of tape on Jared Goff, I think Dallas can keep this within a touchdown and potentially win straight up.
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