LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — It’s a big weekend in Los Angeles’ football as the Rams will return to the field Saturday when they host the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum in the divisional round.
And having the first-round bye allowed the team to work on improving themselves before preparing for Dallas, which is something head coach Sean McVay says the team took advantage of.
“You can kind of focus in on what are the things in all three phases that we can do better. And then just continuing to evaluate our players and always being aware of, and asking them to do things that best suits their skillset. That’s really a chance to really fine-tune some of the things specific to just ourselves, as opposed to getting ready for an opponent,” McVay said.
McVay’s incredible turnaround of his franchise has inspired a wave of copycat coaching hires across the NFL this month, but McVay knows it doesn’t mean much without his first playoff victory.
Dallas has won three playoff games in 22 years, and it hasn’t won a road playoff game since January 1993. The Cowboys haven’t reached the NFC title game since the 1995 season, losing five straight times in the divisional round.
“Yeah, it would mean a lot,” Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott said. “And more than what it means for the past, but because of this group of guys that I’m going to do it with. Just simply how we’ve been able to persevere (through) all the adversity and everything that we’ve been through together, off the field, on the field. I just know we’ve got the right guys to do it.”
The Rams haven’t been in a conference championship game since the 2001-02 season, and they only ended a 12-year playoff drought last January with a home loss to Atlanta in the wild-card round. McVay’s incredible turnaround of his franchise has inspired a wave of copycat coaching hires across the NFL this month, but McVay knows it doesn’t mean much without his first playoff victory.
The matchup also showcases two of the best young quarterback-running back combinations in the league. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are the heart of a team that has won eight of its last nine games since trading for receiver Amari Cooper, capped by Dallas’ gritty victory over Seattle last week in the wild-card round.
Jared Goff and Gurley make it happen for the Rams, who rolled to an 11-1 record with a nearly unstoppable offense. Losses to the Bears and Eagles in December raised questions about their run defense and offensive line, but McVay’s team is rested and determined to make a Super Bowl run.
“I think there’s a confidence that’s been earned,” McVay said. “We have a lot of respect for the Dallas Cowboys, but we expect to win this game. We know it’s going to take a great effort, but we’re going in with the mindset and mentality that we expect to win. I think that confidence is something that’s been earned every day by our players, and then we’ve got to go out and prove it.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)