Breakdown: Dallas (+1) over LA Rams

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates after what what he thought was a fourth quarter touchdown in their NFC Wild Card win over the Seattle Seahawks at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, January 5, 2019. Dak came up short but ran in the touchdown a couple plays later. The Cowboys won, 24-22. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

LA Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
Wager: DAL +1
Cover Probability: 53.2%
Cover Edge: 1.57%

Key Injuries:
Los Angeles Rams: (Week 9 bye)
-TE Gerald Everett (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 13 and 14. He is OUT.
-RT Rob Havenstein (meniscus) was injured week 10 and INACTIVE weeks 11 – 14. He will return.
IR: C Brian Allen (knee), LG Joe Noteboom (torn ACL/MCL), CB Aqib Talib (ribs), S John Johnson (shoulder)

Dallas Cowboys:  (Week 8 bye)
-RB Tony Pollard (ankle) was INACTIVE week 14. He will return.
-DT Antwaun Woods (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 13 and 14. He will return.
-DE Michael Bennett (foot) is QUESTIONABLE. He was limited Wednesday/Thursday, but then did not practice on Friday.
-LB Sean Lee (pectoral/thigh) is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing all week.
-LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) was INACTIVE weeks 12 – 14. He is OUT.
-S Jeff Heath (shoulder) was INACTIVE week 14. He will return.
IR: LG Connor Williams (knee), DT Daniel Ross (shoulder), CB Anthony Brown (triceps)

Spread breakdown: The spread opened at 3.5 and was quickly bet to 1, which is where the model grabbed it at. It’s currently at 1.5.

Matchup Breakdown:
When the Rams have the ball:
The Rams offense has been quite the enigma this season. Fresh off a super bowl run that stemmed directly from the greatest passing attack since Patrick Mahome’s Chiefs, they took a long ride down Regression Road this season to find themselves ranked 17th in DVOA. The biggest surprise was, without question, the offensive line. They were flat out dominant last season and have been flat out terrible this year. Rob Havenstein is the epitome of the entire thing, I’m not sure another football player in the history of football took a bigger step back then Havenstein did this year. So perhaps it was actually a good thing when he was injured week 10 — but unsurprisingly given the lack of tackle depth around the league, the line continued to struggle.

The struggles of the oline are exemplified by a quarterback who continues to be terrible under pressure. The data shows that pressure stats tend to be noisy, but Goff has struggled under pressure so consistently that you have to think it’s simply a deficiency in his game. This season Goff is completing 42.7% of his passes and averaging 5.9 yards per attempt when under pressure. His home/road splits are notoriously the largest in the league, which is important since the Rams are on the road in this one. Goff does have the pleasure of having Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks as receivers, but when the quarterback struggles, nothing else matters.

The Cowboys are checking in with a 22nd ranked DVOA. It’s a shocking low rating considering all their talent. Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and Maliek Collings are all excellent pass rushers off the edge. Michael Bennett, Sean Lee, and Jaylon Smith complete what should be an impressive front 7. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are solid corners, and Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods provide an anchor at safety. It should be a solid defense, but it just isn’t. So what’s the issue? Their tackling grade from PFF is a poor 49.3, which is #bad. You can get after the passer, cover well, win your matchups up front, but if you can’t tackle you basically just automatically suck.

When the Cowboys have the ball:
Dak Prescott, ladies and gentleman. This is your key to the Cowboys taking down the Rams. He’s averaging 8.3 yards per attempt, completing 65.5% of his passes, and is 1st in FO’s DYAR metric. Prescott plays behind one of the top offensive lines in all of football. He has Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup — if it wasn’t for Gallup’s drops issues these would be one of the better 1-2 punches in all of football. Then there’s Zeke — running backs don’t matter, but he makes a lot of money. So that’s pretty cool. This is the best offense in football not named the Baltimore Ravens.

On defense, the Rams rank 6th in DVOA, with splits of 9 against the pass and 3rd against the run. There’s issues with depth up front, but they have this guy named Aaron Donald who is kind of good at football. Donald routinely takes on double teams, which frees up others to have one on one matchups. On the back end, Jalen Ramsey is their top corner and will likely be used to shadow Cooper. Troy Hill, the starter opposite Ramsey, has been excellent since being elevated to starter. Nickell Robey-Coleman has been one of the best slot corners in football for a few years now and will likely make Randall Cobb wish he never left Green Bay. As we continue to see, a good secondary equals a good defense, and that’s exactly what’s going on in LA. Dak will have his work cut out for him, but I have no problem backing the model’s faith.

That’s it for now, bitches.

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