The 10-6 Atlanta Falcons will travel to Los Angeles to take on the 11-5 Rams in this Saturday afternoon NFC Wild Card matchup. These teams had very different final weeks of the season. The Rams were destroyed at home 34-13 by the San Francisco 49ers. Having already clinched they were able to rest their starters and prepare for this week. Atlanta won a season saving victory with a 22-10 home victory over the Carolina Panthers giving them the 6th seed in the NFC. It has been quite the season for Atlanta who last year blew a great chance at earning the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Despite making the playoffs, they were early season favorites to get back to the big game and played below expectations this year.
Todd Gurley and Jared Goff have both played at a Pro-Bowl level this season for the Rams. Gurley finished the year with 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns. He had over 1,300 rushing yards while also catching 64 passes for another 788 yards. Goff has thrown for over 3,800 yards and 28 touchdowns while throwing just 7 interceptions. Their offense is ranked 1st in the league with 30 points per game and 4th with 377 yards per game. Defensively, they rank 19th in the league allowing their opponents to gain an average of 339.6 yards per game and are 12th as they allow 20 points.
Atlanta’s defense led the way against Carolina intercepting Cam Newton 3 times and limiting the Panthers to just 267 yards of offense. They also sacked Newton twice and had 8 tackles for losses. The Falcons offense didn’t have the best game but was saved by the kicking of Matt Bryant. Bryant made all 5 of his field goal attempts including a 56 yarder. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones both had nice seasons for Atlanta. Ryan finished with 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Jones had 1,444 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns. Atlanta’s offense finished the season ranked 8th with 364 yards allowed and 15 with 22 points per game. Defensively, they ranked 8th in the league allowing their opponents to score 19 points and are 9th giving up 318 yards.
It has been a remarkable year for the Rams in hosting a playoff game after last seasons disappointing 4-12 campaign. A lot of credit is due to first year coach Sean McVay who has unleashed this offense. They will have home field advantage and have gone 9-7 against the spread this season including 4-4 at home. The Falcons have gone 7-9 against the spread including just 2-6 on the road. The Rams are favored by 6.5 points, are very healthy and were able to rest their starters for an extra week. Atlanta enters this game with more experience and the reminder of last year’s Super Bowl meltdown. With a playoff passer rating of 102.4 Matt Ryan is third behind only Kurt Warner and Bart Starr on the all time list.
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