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Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Rams


We thought this game would have huge playoff implications when it was announced on the schedule back in April. As it turns out, that is certainly the case but nobody could've predicted the two teams would have a combined 12 losses heading into this game.

Still, the Rams and Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives. Here are some key storylines for each team.

LA Rams

  • The defending NFC champs haven't exactly lived up to the billing this year, but with three games to play, the Rams are 8-5 and one game behind Wild Card leaders for the final playoff spots in the conference. Los Angeles has seemingly turned things around lately, winning two straight, including a decisive win over Seattle Sunday night in LA.
  • Like the Cowboys earlier this year, the Rams have had issues starting out quickly. Against Seattle, the Rams scored on their opening drive to take an early 7-0. Before that, the Rams have been held without a touchdown on the first drive eight times this year. The Rams are being outscored by their opponents 48-42 in the first quarter, but own a 111-71 edge in the second.
  • Only 10 players in the NFL this season have caught over 70 passes with 900 receiving yards. Two of them play for the Rams, the only team with multiple players that have reached that milestone. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods have been a dynamic duo for Jared Goff this season. However, it's Kupp that has seven TD catches, while Woods has just one.
  • Todd Gurley hasn't been as dominating this year as a runner, ranking 16th in the NFL with 771 yards. However, he is tied for fifth in the league with nine rushing touchdowns. Where Gurley has been limited the most is as a pass-catcher. He only has 168 receiving yards this year after accumulating over 1,300 the previous two years.
  • And you can't talk about the Rams without mentioning reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. This year, he's already at 11 sacks for the season, becoming the second defensive tackle in NFL history to have four 11-sack seasons in his career.


  • The Cowboys are no longer in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Technically, they have the tiebreaker over the Eagles, who moved to 6-7 with an overtime win over the Giants Monday night. Dallas defeated Philly 37-10 back on Oct. 20 and can get the season sweep over the Eagles next week with a win on the road. But before that, they've got the Rams at home on Sunday while the Eagles travel to Washington.
  • The Cowboys have a new kicker in Kai Forbath, who had the best workout among three players Monday morning and was signed later that day. The club released Brett Maher, who was 20 of 30 this year, including just 1 of 5 from 40-49 yards. He did make two kicks this year past 60 yards but the Cowboys needed more consistency and have gone with Forbath. The journeyman has kicked for five other teams and actually started his career in Dallas back in 2011 but was injured during training camp when the club decided to go with rookie Dan Bailey.
  • Dak Prescott is dealing with a pair of injuries to both hands but says he will be "good to go" for Sunday's game with the Rams. The quarterback injured his right index finger early in the Bears game last Thursday and then hurt his left hand later in the game. However, it doesn't appear as if Prescott will miss significant practice team this week as the Cowboys prepare for Aaron Donald and the talented Rams defense.
  • Other injuries the Cowboys are dealing with this week include safety Jeff Heath, who has missed three of the last four games with two injured shoulders. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has continued to miss games with a neck stinger and doesn't seem like he will be ready for Sunday. The same goes for defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, who is still out with a sprained MCL.
  • And if we're talking about "storylines," you can't ignore the constant discussion surrounding the Cowboys about the future of head coach Jason Garrett. There have been multiple reports that the Cowboys have already engaged talks with possible candidates to replace Garrett, whose contract ends after this year. On his weekly radio show Tuesday, owner/GM Jerry Jones denied that there have been any such discussions with potential replacements and continues to support Garrett for these final three games of the season.