With no clear cut Super Bowl favorite, we take a look at the NFC playoff picture heading into the divisional round of the playoffs.
Can the Rams stop the Dallas rushing attack?
The Los Angeles Rams finished the season as the 2 seed in the NFC and host a home playoff game to Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams defensive line boasts two of the best interior players in the NFL. In Aaron Donald they possess the most dominant defensive player in the NFL.
That would lead most to believe that Elliott and the Cowboys will have a hard time running the ball. The fact is the Rams are actually a below average run defense allowing opponents an average of 122 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile it is the Dallas Cowboys who have the strong run defense allowing their opponents 94 rushing yards per game.
The two best players in this game are the running backs. Todd Gurley of the Rams lead the NFL with 21 touchdowns despite missing the final two games of the season. He had been leading the league in rushing for a large part of the year but a strong finish by Ezekiel Elliott saw him end the year as the league’s leading rusher with 1,434 yards. Both backs are also excellent at catching the ball out of the backfield and will be pivotal to the success of their respective teams.
This is where Dallas might have an advantage over the high powered Rams who score 32 points per game. The Cowboys are the only team to shut down Dree Brees and the Saints and you can expect them to try a similar recipe in Los Angeles. The two young quarterbacks in this contest will have a lot to say in terms of who comes out on top in this one.
Dak Prescott seems to be getting hot at the right time while Jared Geoff seems to be rediscovering his form late. He did have a mini slump after starting the season on fire, so much so that he was in the MVP discussion through the first 10 weeks.
All of the aforementioned players are still very young and it will be interesting to see who will be able to step up and make a big play when their team needs it.
Is the Nick Foles magic real?
With his heroics, there is an actual debate happening as to whether the Eagles are better off with Nick Foles or Carson Wentz.
For the purposes of the game against the Saints that question is irrelevant because Wentz is hurt. If Foles manages to beat the number 1 seed New Orleans Saints on the road, especially after the way the Eagles got destroyed there in week 11 with Wentz at quarterback, then you have a full fledged QB controversy on your hands.
Beating the Saints in the dome in the playoffs will be a tall order. Some of the Eagles have accused the Saints of running up the score in that game because they went for it on 4th down while they already winning big but the reality is, the Saints could have beat them by so much more.
That game was never close and the Eagles will need more than Foles magic to pull off the upset of the playoffs. They will need a total team effort starting with their defensive line.