Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7)
Sat. 1/12, 8:15 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Cowboys-Rams:
1. The Cowboys look to remain the NFC’s hottest team when they travel to face the Rams in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Dallas ended the regular season by winning seven of its final eight games despite the fact that half of those games came against teams that remain alive in the NFL playoffs. (The team’s lone straight-up loss, on the road at Indianapolis, was also its only against-the-spread loss over the second half of the regular season.) The Cowboys carried that momentum into the playoffs, beating the Seahawks 24-22 as a 2.5-point home favorite on Saturday night. Dallas led by 10 with less than 80 seconds remaining before Seattle scored a touchdown and converted its second two-point conversion of the second half while kicker Sebastian Janikowski remained on the sidelines, having suffered a leg injury while attempting a field goal on the final play of the first half.
2. The Rams are 6-16-4 against the spread since the start of the 2016 season when facing an offense that’s averaging at least 5.65 yards per play (as the Cowboys do), and they’re 6-13 straight up (3-13-3 against the spread) in that same time frame when facing an opponent that completes at least 64% of its pass attempts. (Dak Prescott ranked among the NFL’s top-10 quarterbacks in completion percentage during the season at 67.7.) The Cowboys, meanwhile, are 10-2 straight up and 8-2-2 against the spread since the start of the 2016 season when facing an opponent that allows an average of at least 24 points per game, and they’re 7-0 straigh -up (5-1-1 against the spread) in that same time frame against teams that allow an average of at least 6.0 yards per play.
3. The Cowboys defense has performed remarkably well on the road against quality competition in recent seasons, allowing an average of only 14 points per game over six road contests against teams with a winning record since the start of the 2016 season. In the half-dozen road games Dallas has played in that same time frame against opponents averaging at least 24 points per game, the Cowboys have allowed an average of only 15.7 points per game. If you were to throw out games the Rams played against teams hailing from the states of California and Arizona, L.A. covered the point spread only once—a 14-point win as a 10-point road favorite against a Detroit squad that went 3-5 at home during the regular season—in the other 11 games it played during the 2018 calendar year. Before ending their regular season with back-to-back victories (both straight up and against the spread) over the Cardinals and 49ers, which combined to go 7-25 in 2018, the Rams covered the spread only twice in their previous 11 games (the aforementioned game at Detroit and in a road win at San Francisco). They failed to cover any of their five home games during that 11-game stretch, and they went 0-5-1 against the spread over the final six games they played against teams that reached the playoffs.
Pick: Dallas +7
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)