Cowboys at Rams: Two offensive players who should shine

Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

A great performance by the Dallas Cowboys‘ defense is a given. But which players on offense could make a huge impact against the Los Angeles Rams?

The Dallas Cowboys have not been to the NFC Championship since the 1995-’96 season. On Saturday, the Cowboys will be trying to flip the script in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams.

Dallas’ defensive dominance has been the calming force amidst the chaos since Week 1. But, to win in the postseason, both the offense and defense have to show up. So, who are the two Cowboys’ players that could kickstart the offense?

Running back Ezekiel Elliott

If Ezekiel Elliott can be productive, the offense will have a good shot at steam-rolling over the Rams. Elliott ran for 1,434 yards on 304 attempts (4.7 yards per carry) in the regular season. And last week, in the wild-card round against the Seattle Seahawks, he busted open for 137 yards on 26 attempts (5.3 YPC).

The Rams, though they have stars on the defense, are actually not great at stopping the run. The Rams were ranked as the worst rushing defense in the entire league as it pertains to yards per attempt allowed. They gave up an embarrassing 5.1 yards per carry in the regular season.

Coming off of a bye week, the Rams should have fresh legs that would theoretically slow down Elliott. But the Cowboys have built their team to be able to run the ball, even against All-Pro defensive linemen such as the Rams’ Aaron Donald. Of course, Donald will make highlight plays, but there is room to be hopeful Dallas can get the running game started.

Last week, rookie left guard Connor Williams played the best game of his career. Williams looked healthy and was able to get second-level blocks on the likes of Seattle’s linebackers, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Guards are not just the maulers that play in the trenches. They also have to be able to pull across the offensive line and get to speedy secondary players.

Elliott is the best in the league at running downhill, north and south. But an underrated part of his skill set is his speed to race to the edge. The Cowboys will try their best to avoid the nasty defensive tackles of the Rams, so Elliott will have many opportunities outside. Rams’ cornerback Marcus Peters is good in coverage but struggles to make tackles in space.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan must exploit this. If they give Elliott opportunities to run outside, he should be in for a game. Maybe Elliott even crosses the 200 rushing yard mark for the first time in his career?

Wide receiver Amari Cooper

After a three-game drought, Cooper found his groove against the Seahawks. Cooper caught seven of nine targets for 106 yards last Saturday, per Pro Football Focus. Donald will most likely be getting pressure on quarterback Dak Prescott, so getting a rhythm in the quick passing game might be the correct strategy for the Cowboys.

Especially if receiver Cole Beasley does not play, or is limited in Los Angeles, Cooper will receive a large number of targets. Cooper could line up in the slot to exploit the cornerbacks’ leverage and serve as a quick read for Prescott.

As Cowboys’ fans know, Cooper can run any route on the route tree. His “sluggo” is too sharp for cornerback Aqib Talib, and his slant is too fast for Peters. Amari has put up crazy numbers against Talib and Peters in the past. Last year, when Cooper was with the Oakland Raiders, he destroyed Peters when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. He exploded for 210 yards and two touchdowns.

Because Prescott will need to get the ball out fast to his reliable receivers, Cooper may break 10 targets in a game for the first time since he joined the Cowboys. If the fantasy football season was still going, he would be a top-five pick for sure. Cooper will get open, but it is up to Prescott to throw him the ball accurately.

Next. 4 Cowboys keys to a playoff victory over the L.A. Rams. dark

Who do you think will have a great performance against the Rams? Do you think the Dallas Cowboys will be able to move the ball and score points? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

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