EL PASO, Texas (KDBC) — The Los Angeles Coliseum is going to get its first taste of the NFL playoffs this season.
It is the temporary home of the LA Rams. They will host the Dallas Cowboys tonight.
The Cowboys are looking to advance to their first NFC championship game in more than 20 years.
With a 10-6 regular-season record, the Cowboys grabbed the sixth seed heading into the playoffs and eliminated the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round last weekend. The Rams were 13-3 in the regular season and had a bye last week.
The second half of the season told different stories for both teams. The Cowboys won seven of their last eight games, while the Rams won five of their last eight.
Three losses in the second half was a dramatic difference for the Rams, who were undefeated in the first half of the season. Regardless, a big part of that success is Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley.
According to the NFL, Gurley accounted for 17 touchdowns during the regular season and more than 1,200 yards (1,251, to be specific).
That strength is something that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is aware of.
“He’s just a great football player. He has everything you want in a running back,” Garrett said. “He can beat you with speed, he can beat you with power ... just a fantastic player.”
Rams head coach Sean McVay gave similar credit to the Cowboys' offense.
“Adding Amari Cooper’s been a big plus for them. He’s made a bunch of plays,” McVay said. “I think [Ezekiel] Elliott and Dak Prescott are two of the best competitors in this league.”
Both quarterbacks, the Cowboys’ Prescott and the Rams' Jared Goff, are young players in their third year in the NFL.
Prescott threw for 22 touchdowns, accounting for almost 4,000 yards, and only had eight interceptions. Goff’s offensive stats show a different type of leader, with 32 touchdowns this season for almost 5,000 yards, but 12 interceptions.
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence addressed how he feels about Goff earlier this week.
“He is a quarterback. I don't like quarterbacks,” Goff said. “I go in every week wanting to take a quarterback's soul. You look in a man's eye and see fear in his heart. That is when you know you got him.”
Meanwhile, the Cowboys aren’t taking the Rams' defense lightly. Elliott believes the Rams' defensive strength lies in No. 99, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“[He] could be one of the most disruptive defense players in this league,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy you gotta game plan around. He’s the guy that has a lot of production.”
The game is also personal for at least one of the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin says he isn’t trying to focus on the fact that he’s playing his former team. Austin played for the Rams from 2013 until he was traded to the Cowboys before the 2018 season.
Austin told reporters on Monday that he’s excited to see some former teammates and friends, but he’s focused on the game.
“I love the Rams to death, just go over there and play my game,” Austin said. “Not gonna make it a Tavon against the Rams kinda thing.”
The two teams also have history. These franchises have split eight postseason games, and the Rams are the most frequent playoff opponent for Dallas.
However, the Rams are looking for their first playoff win in 14 years, while Dallas has won three playoff games in 22 years. The catch for Dallas is that the franchise hasn't won a road playoff game since January 1993.
The Cowboys also haven't reached the NFC title game since the 1995 season, losing five straight times in the divisional round.
The last time these two teams faced each other was Oct. 1, 2017, when the Rams came out on top 35-30.