The NFL Divisional Round includes a Saturday night showdown between the Cowboys and Rams. For this game and every postseason contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
NFL Divisional Round Football Betting Odds
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
NFL Divisional Round Saturday Night Football Breakdown
The Cowboys leaned on Ezekiel Elliott and their surging defense to hang on against the Seahawks at home last Saturday night. This matchup at the Rams will certainly be more difficult on paper, but the L.A. Coliseum is a weak home field in terms of crowd noise. The heavily transplanted population of L.A. could easily be swayed to root for, or bet on, the underdog ‘Boys.
Elliott should have another productive game against a Rams team that ranked 28th in DVOA rush defense this season and allowed 5.4 YPC at home. The Rams defense was worse overall at the Coliseum, yielding a 68.1% completion rate and 100.3 passer rating to visiting QBs.
On that note, Dak Prescott played well against a very good Seahawks defense last week. He also shined in his lone start (as a rookie) in the Divisional Round two years ago. He should be able to find Amari Cooper early and often against a Rams team that ranked 28th in DVOA pass defense against No. 1 receivers.
Aqib Talib is back from a high-ankle sprain but has not been the same shutdown force he was earlier in his career. Then, Rams LCB Marcus Peters has struggled with a calf injury and is one of the worst-rated CBs in football this season. Moreover, Cooper has run most of his routes against left CBs since joining Dallas.
The Rams are top five in DVOA against opposing TEs and RBs although Elliott is going to be force-fed touches regardless of game script. Dallas TE Blake Jarwin will likely have a tough time finding openings against the Rams linebackers. However, the Rams are 28th in DVOA against passes over the deep middle, so look for Cooper and Cole Beasley to run deep in-cutting routes once the Rams LBs begin to bite on play action.
With both Jarwin and Beasley unable to practice this week due to ankle injuries, former Rams WR Tavon Austin and backup TE Dalton Schultz will be asked to step up.
Austin is an intriguing wildcard with the ability to make an impact on special teams or on gadget plays. However, downfield threat Michael Gallup would likely see the biggest rise in target share if Jarwin and/or Beasley are limited.
Of course, the key to the Cowboys’ offense is their ability to run the ball. Even with LT Tyron Smith (neck) and RG Zack Martin (knee) banged up, the Cowboys rank third in power run blocking and afford Elliott the NFL’s most average yards before contact (2.7).
The Rams force the fifth-fewest 3-and-outs (.176) per drive, and Dallas runs the third-most plays (6.51) per drive. At the very least, Elliott should be able to move the chains and take time off the clock. This, of course, will factor into our betting strategy.
The Rams wisely rested offensive centerpiece Todd Gurley down the stretch, and he should be a full go for this tough matchup.
With rookie stud LB Leighton Vander Esch leading the way, Dallas allows only 3.7 YPC on the road this season and ranks fifth in DVOA rush defense. Still, Vander Esch and fellow LB Jaylon Smith will face a tough challenge against a Rams offensive line that owns the top rating in terms of blocking at the second level.
Because the Rams run three-wide sets so often, only two RBs have faced an 8-man box less often than Gurley (8.2%) this season. Gurley is also an elite receiving back and has handled the most red-zone touches (73) in the NFL. Dallas ranks 26th in DVOA pass defense against RBs and has coughed up the fifth-most receptions (101) to Gurley’s position.
While losing Cooper Kupp (ACL) for the season put a dent in the Rams’ upside offensively, brilliant HC and play-caller Sean McVay has adjusted.
Robert Woods has moved inside and will likely be the primary target for Jared Goff in this matchup. Cowboys slot CB Anthony Brown has struggled badly this year. Meanwhile, plus-sized corners Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have been nails on the outside.
Brandin Cooks struggled in past meetings with the Cowboys and will be hard-pressed to make a tremendous impact against a team that ranks eighth in DVOA against deep passes. Josh Reynolds will round out the Rams receiving corps. He is certainly the underdog in a matchup with Byron Jones.
McVay will likely look to create mismatches against defenders other than Jones and Awuzie. That could mean TEs Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee playing an increased role or Cooks moving inside to run routes against the Cowboys’ shaky slot coverage.
Jared Goff was lights out at home, averaging 10.04 yards per completion with a 22:3 TD:INT ratio and 116.7 passer rating. McVay will put him in positions to succeed, but Goff has been far less efficient against zone defenses and Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli has a reputation for confusing young passers.
NFL Divisional Round Picks
While the Rams are third in drive success rate and points per drive, Dallas allows the seventh-fewest TDs (.510) per red zone trip and 12th fewest TDs per drive (.207) overall.
The Cowboys’ defense recently rose to the challenge when slated as a heavy underdog at home against the Saints, earning an outright 13-10 win. That unit is talented enough to contain the Rams’ prolific offense and keep this contest competitive.
The Rams are 7-1 at home but only 3-3-2 against the spread at the Coliseum. The NFC’s No. 2 seed defeated only one team with a winning record (the Chargers) by over seven points all season. They are 1-5-1 ATS when facing playoff teams.
Looking deeper, the Rams have not been the same team since their historic 54-51 shootout win over the Chiefs. They dropped consecutive games to the Bears and Eagles before looking shaky in their finale against the 49ers.
The Over has hit in four consecutive Rams games and in five of their eight home games this season. While Dallas plays a slowed down style (24th in pace), the Rams play at the third-fastest pace in the NFL and keep their foot on the gas with the seventh-fastest pace when leading by seven-plus points.
The Over (49) is a great bet at the Coliseum, where the Rams average 37.1 PPG this season.