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Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys: Matchups to watch revisited

The game turned ugly really quickly. The Rams ultimately never looked competitive against the Cowboys, losing majority of the matchups.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams had arguably their weakest performance of the year against the Dallas Cowboys in a pivotal matchup that was crucial to their 2020 NFL Playoff chances. Ultimately, the Rams got devoured and spit out, leaving them with hardly any glimpse of hope at the postseason and fans already looking forward to the offseason.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

CB Jalen Ramsey vs. WR Amari Cooper

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Ramsey traveled with Cooper throughout majority of the game, though he didn’t completely shadow him every snap. Regardless, Ramsey had a very good game as he was draped all over Cooper on majority of his reps. Coop was only targeted twice in the game and pulled down only one reception for 19 yards, and it didn’t even look to be Ramsey’s fault. The matchup between two of the leagues best at their positions was a fun watch, even if it didn’t impact the game as we had expected.

ILB Cory Littleton vs. RB Ezekiel Elliott

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

The blame certainly can’t all be placed on Littleton because the entire defense was terrible in the run stopping department. In particular, EDGE Clay Matthews was missing tackles one after the next as he continued to elect going for the strip as opposed to securing tackles. Zeke and his backup in Tony Pollard totaled 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the worst performances against the run that the Rams’ defense has had all year.

OT’s Andrew Whitworth/Bobby Evans vs. EDGE’s Robert Quinn/DeMarcus Lawrence

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Lawrence and Quinn weren’t the two Cowboys to go off as the Rams game-planned them out of relevance as much as possible, but it was their remaining linemates in Michael Bennett and Antwaun Woods who absolutely feasted and disrupted everything the Rams tried to do. Woods stuffed what felt like every rushing attempt and Bennett routinely collapsed pockets and forced Goff off his spot, removing any rhythm in the passing attack.

WR Robert Woods vs. CB Chidobe Awuzie

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

With the passing attack struggling throughout, Woods wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed, totaling only four receptions on nine targets for 17 yards. It was a terrible day for Woods who did have a drop or two on difficult catches and ultimately proved to not be any threat in the contest. It was a great job by the Cowboys — and Awuzie in particular — to slow down one of the hottest receivers in the league over the past few weeks.

TE Tyler Higbee vs. S Jeff Heath

Last week’s matchup to watch:

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.

Another game, another 100-yard receiving performance for Higbee. Coming out of absolutely nowhere, Higbee has managed to top 100 yards receiving in three consecutive weeks. Plenty of Higbee’s statistical output was compiled in garbage time, but the connection between he and Goff is very evident. As long as Gerald Everett continues to miss time, Higbee will be a very relevant factor in the offense.