The Cowboys Report

Cowboys beat the Seahawks; Rams up next

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (11-6) won their first playoff game since 2014 when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks (10-7) by the score of 24-22 on Saturday night. Don't let the score fool you; the game wasn't as close as the score indicates. Dallas played their best game since late November when they beat the No. 1 seed New Orleans Saints.

The Cowboys were prepared and played great on both sides of the ball. The Dallas offense got the ball first and drove down the field to take a three point lead on their opening possession. The coaching staff called great plays and they got the ball to their best players early and often. The defense was swarming around the ball all game and caused Seattle to go three and out on their first three possessions. They didn't allow Seattle to score until midway through the second quarter and only allowed 11 first downs the entire game.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 22 of 33 for 226 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was able to utilize his running skills and scored the game sealing touchdown on a 1 yard run with a little over two minutes left in the game that put the Cowboys up 24-14. He ended up with six carries for 29 yards and was only sacked once. He completed passes to eight different players and got the ball to super star receiver Amari Cooper 7 times for 106 yards.

Pro Bowl running Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 30 times and surprise surprise, it led to a Cowboys' victory. He carried the ball 26 times for 137 yards and one touchdown; he also caught four passes for 32 yards. It's no secret that he is the main factor on whether Dallas wins or loses and he needs to get the ball as much as possible.

On the defensive side, stud linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith combined for 17 total tackles, nine were solo (Esch 6, Smith 3). They clamped down on the Seattle running game and held them to 73 yards total. Their leading rusher was held to 29 yards and it wasn't their starting RB. They forced the Seahawks to beat them through the air and they couldn't get it done.

The Cowboys will now be heading to Los Angeles to play the No. 2 seed Rams this weekend. If they win, they could possibly host the next game if the Philadelphia Eagles are able to pull off another upset against the New Orleans Saints.

3 Players to Watch

1.Ezekiel Elliott (running back): Will be going against the 23rd ranked rushing defense in the league and should be able to take full advantage of this matchup. Zeke should get another 30 touches and I can see him going for over 150 yards against the Rams.

2.Leighton Vander Esch (linebacker): Is going to need to have another big game as he will be going against super star running back Todd Gurley and the No. 3 rushing offense in the league. The Rams also have the No. 5 passing offense in the league and he will probably have to cover Gurley when he comes out of the backfield.

3.Dak Prescott (quarterback): Will be going against the NFL's leader in sacks (Aaron Donald with 20.5) and is going to have to make good decisions while not turning the ball over. If he can do that, he might be able to get the ball down field to playmakers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as the Rams are the No. 14 passing defense and are No. 25 in passing touchdowns allowed. Hopefully he can take advantage on some play action plays while the defense keys on Zeke.

The Dallas Cowboys (11-6) will be playing the Los Angeles Rams (13-3) on Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. Kickoff is set for 7:15 Central time. Dallas will be looking to advance to their first conference championship game since 1996. If they continue to get the ball to their athletes on good play calls, they should have a real good chance at beating the Rams.

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are +7 and the over/under is 49.5.The Cowboys are not as good on the road as they are at home but I think the play is Dallas at any number 7 or higher and I think the under is a good play as well.

Slow to make big moves hasn't equaled a drop in potential for Texans

Texans are better despite slow free agency

The Texans are better today than when the season ended. It isn't a huge improvement, and there is room for far more improvement, but they're better.

Despite some people's frustration with the Texans not making moves they really haven't missed out on much, the draft is where they will truly improve, and people aren't remembering how good, or bad, they were last season.

Tyrann Mathieu is not $20 million better than Tashaun Gipson. I don't even believe Mathieu was the right type of safety for the Texans. He was a mismatch problem on bigger players, specifically tight ends where Gipson thrives. Mathieu was the third best safety on the team last season not playing as well as Kareem Jackson when he was at safety or the total body of Justin Reid who impressed in his rookie season. While the leadership aspect can't be denied, the Texans praised repeatedly the locker room personality Mathieu brought, the team doesn't lack for leaders.

Gipson has had more success in recent years statistically than Mathieu and plays a different style. You'll notice far less tackles and no sacks to Gipson's stat line. He will be asked to cover more than Mathieu was and his success in recent seasons shows he can do that well. He hasn't had to clean up a lot of messes in the Jaguars secondary, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye held their own, his experience playing deep will hopefully help handle the lack of top talent at cornerback for the Texans.

Speaking of cornerback, if that is where Kareem Jackson was going to play for the Texans in 2019 then there is no loss whatsoever in seeing him leave. He was not good as a corner last year after a really solid start to the year as a safety. Bradley Roby is more physically gifted and took a prove-it deal to try to hit the market with more buzz than this year. I would have preferred Jackson sticking around as a safety but alas the Texans didn't seem to see his value there.

Wholesale changes on the offensive line did almost nothing to improve it last season so I am not sure why some fans and media have desired that again. Yes, they shouldn't have been outbid on Roger Saffold (Titans) by a division rival who has invested greatly in their offensive line. No, Trent Brown (Raiders) and his bloated contract wasn't the answer at left tackle. Matt Paradis is coming off a broken leg at the center spot though he would have been an upgrade at center.

It is clear help on the line is coming via the draft, a deep one along the line might I add. With three picks in the top two rounds there will be opportunities to find players to push Nick Martin, Senio Kelemete, and Julién Davenport and it isn't out of the question. Seantrell Henderson despite his new contract is pushed by a rookie as well. This is a fine plan as only Nick Martin was a top round pick of any of the Texans current offensive linemen.

Also, this team won 11 games last season. Don't let a disappointing playoff performance skew how this team played. Deshaun Watson is going to improve and that is the most important thing about this team. He won't take as many hits as he did last season with draft investment and improvement of players on the roster. The rookie tight ends have a year of seasoning under their belt. D'Onta Foreman and Keke Coutee should be healthy and eventually Will Fuller will return. The defense returns or has replaced key figures.

Acting like this is a team that had to spend money just because they had cap space isn't a smart way to look at this team. Typically a team sucks when they have this much cap space, the Texans didn't fall into that category. Is there still room for improvement? No doubt. There's also room to find multiple bargains, be a destination for a trade post-draft, and pay Clowney. Relax, this is a long offseason. The Texans are better today than last week.

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