The Cowboys enter this game dealing with some injury issues, including the finger on their quarterback’s throwing hand. It doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about, however.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who has never missed a game due to injury, currently has injuries to both hands. He has a sprained left wrist, and the index finger on his throwing hand is also banged up. Prescott has fully participated in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, with tape on the injured finger.
“Just a couple of bruises,” Prescott said Thursday, downplaying the injuries. “I’ll probably wear the same tape in the game, but that’s that. . . . Nothing serious.” Prescott said that the tape hasn’t affected his ability to throw the ball, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore likewise downplayed the situation.
“He’s used to having little things here and there,” Moore said. “It’s part of the deal, especially this time of year.”
Injury Report 12/13: Webster good to go; Everett ruled out, Havenstein doubtful for Rams at Cowboys - Stu Jackson, The Rams
L.A. comes into the game relatively healthy, but keep an eye on the status of their right tackle Rob Havenstein, who will be responsible for blocking DeMarcus Lawrence.
Rams punt returner Nsimba Webster (hip) is good to go for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys in Dallas, while tight end Gerald Everett (knee) has been ruled out. Although he has been a full participant in practice this week, right tackle Rob Havenstein (knee) is considered doubtful.
For the Cowboys, starting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) has been ruled out, while another, Sean Lee (pectoral/thigh), is considered questionable.
Here is each team’s final practice report...
Over at Rams base camp, they preview today’s game, including what it’s going to take for the Rams to keep their wild card hopes alive.
Three keys to victory
Establish the run game: In light of where the Cowboys defense fares statistically against the run and the fact it could be down two starting linebackers, it doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult for the Rams’ offense to get Gurley going early.
Take some risks in the passing game: While Dallas has allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards per game this season, it also is tied with Detroit for fewest interception in the league with five. That’s not suggesting Los Angeles should be one dimensional and test the Dallas secondary deep on every possession, but it might give L.A. quarterback Jared Goff more leeway to take those chances when they present themselves.
Limit Elliott and Cooper: An effective Elliott opens up play action in the passing game, which can lead to big plays from Cooper via Prescott.
What should the Rams be worried about today? Cameron DaSilva provides three areas of concern, including how the amount of time Jared Goff has in the pocket can sway the pendulum.
Blocking Cowboys’ edge rushers
Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence have wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks and backfields all season. It’s one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL and one that’s going to really test Andrew Whitworth and Bobby Evans or Rob Havenstein. Jared Goff has gotten great protection in recent weeks, but having to block Quinn and Lawrence will be a real test for the Rams’ tackles. If Goff can’t get comfortable in the pocket, the offense will be out of rhythm all day long.
These teams know each other well, but there will be some new matchups to keep an eye on this week, including how the Cowboys getting their starting safety back comes just in the nick of time as a new weapon has emerged in the Rams’ offense.
TE Tyler Higbee vs. S Jeff Heath
If you missed the past two Rams contests, you wouldn’t know that Higbee went from, well, Higbee to Rob Gronkowski in his prime. In the past two games, Higbee combined for 14 receptions for 223 yards receiving and one touchdown, posting the best stretch in his career by a wide margin. Goff has a great chemistry with Higbee and has been highly accurate when targeting his tight end, as evidenced by Higbee’s 74% catch percentage in the past two contests.
This week, Higbee will oppose an average-at-best defender in Heath. Heath has allowed 226 yards, one touchdown, and a 93.1 rating in his coverage this season.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTIONS
The writing staff over at the mothership lets us in on what their gut is telling them, and I must say - it’s not looking so good.
Nick Eatman: The Rams are coming in hot, winners of two straight. The Cowboys are actually colder than this Texas weather, which feels more like fall. This is a perfect example of “just when you think one way about the NFL … boom!” Well, I’m still not seeing the boom, not in a good way.
I just don’t see how the Cowboys get this win. They haven’t been consistent enough on offense to move the ball against good defenses. It’s been well-documented how the Cowboys can’t be a Top 10 defense or a team with a winning record and the Rams have both. The Cowboys defense has had problems against good runners and here comes Todd Gurley. And they’ve also shown the inability to stop creative offenses and that’s what the Rams usually bring to the table.
Yes, 10 days off should help but other than weird NFL logic that says what comes up must come down and vice versa, I’m just not seeing the Cowboys able to pull this one out. I’ll take the Rams 24-14.
Athlon sports offers up a game preview with their final score prediction.
With the way these two teams are playing, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Cowboys are able to squeak out a win. Granted, there is a lot of talent in Dallas, especially on offense, so Garrett and company just need to get things going. It should be a closer game than the last two we have seen the Rams play in, but it won’t be enough to get an outright victory. In the end, Los Angeles makes it three straight.
Prediction: Rams 27, Cowboys 24
Expert predictions for Cowboys-Rams: Will this result be any different than last season’s NFC divisional-round game? - Staff, Dallas Morning News
It’s a clean sweep in favor of the Rams from the writing staff over at DMN, but can you really blame them. And some of them don’t even think it’s going to be very watchable if you’re a Cowboys fan.
The paths followed by the Cowboys and Rams mirrored each other through the first two months of the season. The two are traveling in different directions at the moment. The Rams haven’t lost since Baltimore drilled them 45-6. The Cowboys don’t have a loss nearly that bad. That doesn’t mean they won’t. As poorly as Dallas has played, they haven’t hit bottom. Yet.
Rams 41, Cowboys 17.
NFL picks, predictions for Week 15: Packers beat Bears; Cowboys outlast Rams; 49ers roll - Tadd Haislop, Sporting News
Not everyone is taking the Rams to win this one.
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-1)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
The Cowboys have to stop their losing skid eventually, right? A home win over the Rams would be refreshing for a Dallas team that still leads the NFL in yards per game but has little to show for it in the standings. It also would be a massive boost ahead of what could amount to an NFC East championship game against the Eagles next week. In a prediction that’s 100 percent rooted in confirmation bias as our Super Bowl pick continues to struggle, we’ll assume the Cowboys can save their season against the team that eliminated them last year.
Pick: Cowboys 28, Rams 24
If you’re hanging out on the West Coast like me, then you will not be treated to the national broadcasting of this game. Most everyone else though is in good shape as 506Sports hooks us up with their weekly TV schedule coverage map.