The Los Angeles Rams will hope to improve their chances of making the postseason when they face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. Even with Dallas having two fewer wins, they are the team in this game who is currently in the playoff picture.
The Rams are 8-5 which is third place in the NFC West and has them on the outside looking in for the playoffs. On the other hand, the Cowboys are 6-7 and are atop the NFC East.
Los Angeles has won their past two games in impressive fashion over the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Last week, the Rams were able to impose their will on the Seahawks as they won by 16 points on Sunday Night Football.
With the Rams’ playoff hopes hanging in the balance, everyone is going to have to contribute on Sunday. Considering that, here are the two major X-Factors in the rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Round Game.
2. Jalen Ramsey
Before the Rams’ game in Week 7, they decided to make a blockbuster trade to acquire Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since his arrival, he’s drastically improved the pass defense of the Rams.
With Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib starting, Los Angeles surrendered an average of 241.3 passing yards per game. On the other hand, in Ramsey’s first seven games, the Rams have held opposing teams to only 204 passing yards per game.
As expected, the Rams allow the All-Pro cornerback to shadow the opposing team’s best wide receiver. This week, Ramsey will draw the challenge of covering Amari Cooper.
Earlier this week, Ramsey called Cooper ‘one of the most underrated receivers in the league’. That is high praise from someone like Ramsey who doesn’t compliment his counterparts.
1. Todd Gurley
Since last year’s Super Bowl, it has been a hot topic to discuss how the Rams have utilized Todd Gurley in the offense. Earlier in the season, Sean McVay chose to be cautious with how he deployed the All-Pro running back due to his knee issues.
But over the past few weeks, McVay has finally come around to using a heavy dose of Gurley. The featured back has touched the ball 20 or more times in the Rams’ past four contests.
In the three games that he did surpass 20 touches, Los Angeles was the winning team. The Rams will un-mistakenly try to get Gurley involved early against Dallas’ 19th ranked run defense on Sunday.
Above all, when Gurley is having success running the ball, Jared Goff has more time to survey the field. If Gurley is gashing the Cowboys on the ground, we could see a repeat of last year’s playoff game between these two teams.