The Los Angeles Rams will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 in what will prove to be a pivotal and crucial matchup for both teams as they look to secure a playoff spot in a tight race in the NFC.
Though the two teams aren’t divisional rivals, they have plenty of familiarity with each other as they’ve faced each other twice in 2017 (preseason and regular season), once in 2018 (playoffs), and once earlier this year in the preseason.
Let’s get into the matchups to watch:
CB Jalen Ramsey vs. WR Amari Cooper
Ramsey is arguably the most talented cornerback in the league, but he has yet to fully hit his stride as a Ram. The Rams haven’t seen a matchup of this magnitude this season, providing Ramsey with every opportunity to official stake his name in L.A. The Cowboys’ offense runs through Cooper, regardless of what big media may lead you to believe. Cooper hasn’t been fully healthy recently, but he’s still had an incredibly strong season totaling 70 receptions for 1,054 yards and eight touchdowns. Ramsey should travel with Cooper in this contest of two giants opposing each other.
ILB Cory Littleton vs. RB Ezekiel Elliott
Since being paid, Zeke hasn’t looked like his traditional self (lacking big plays) but is still productive as he’s eclipsed 1,000-yards rushing and double-digit touchdowns (10). The entire front-seven of the Rams will need to be vigilant and maintain their gaps as they’ve done all season, but the man tasked with the biggest job will be the man who occupies the middle of the defense in Littleton. Littleton will not only need to be active in run support, but his presence in coverage as a zone defender is crucial to taking away the short passing game for opposing offenses.
OT’s Andrew Whitworth/Bobby Evans vs. EDGE’s Robert Quinn/DeMarcus Lawrence
Former Ram Quinn and DLaw form one of the best duo’s along the edge in the NFL, though Quinn is thoroughly out-playing Lawrence thus far into 2019. Quinn is one of the league’s most potent pass rushers as he’s totaled 9.5 sacks and 29 total pressures, where Lawrence has totaled five sacks and 27 pressures. Both guys have 10 tackles-for-loss on the year, proving just how effective they can be in run support. The battle between these two and Big Whit and Evans will be crucial in deciding the game as QB Jared Goff is simply a different player when given time vs. when he’s consistently pressured.
WR Robert Woods vs. CB Chidobe Awuzie
The weak link in the secondary (well, cornerback group) for the Cowboys is Chido as he’s allowed an 89.0 rating when targeted in coverage. The good news for the Rams — and Woods — is that Chido exclusively lines up at LCB, giving Woods the majority of reps with Awuzie in coverage. Woods has been on an absolute tear in recent weeks, surpassing 95+ yards receiving in all of his past four contests. Woods has hit his stride and looks uncoverable these days, ensuring Awuzie will have both hands full on Sunday.
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.