Falcons at Rams Prediction (Wild Card)
- Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (LAR -6.5)
The Rams are this years biggest story after last season being one of the worst teams in the league and the consensus was their QB Jared Goff was a bust. That narrative isnt true and not only does Goff look promising to be an elite QB in this league, this entire team has promise to be good for a while. Give most of the credit to young head coach Sean Mcvay who in my opinion is a top candidate for coach of the year.
This Rams offense is the biggest story. Specifically MVP candidate RB Todd Gurley, who had over 1300 rushing yards and about 800 receiving yards. Without Todd Gurley, Im sorry to say, this offensive would be slightly over average. When Gurley rushes for less than 100 yards, they Rams are 5-4. As much as Goff looks promising, he still isnt there yet and the receiving core is average as well. Before this year did you even know the name of a receiver on the team? I would guess not unless you are a Rams fan. But fact is, the Rams do have Gurley. and this offense is good, ranking 10th in yards per game this year and rank 1st in points at 29.9 points per game. As I looked up those 2 stats, I was curious as to how a team can be 10th in yards but 1st in points, I can understand maybe top 3 or 5 in yards with #1 in points but their 10th in yards. Answer: Kicker Greg Zuerlein. Zuerlein is responsible for 10.5 points per game this season which is #1 in the league among kickers. Why is bringing up the kicker important? Because in these playoff games, the kicking position is highly important and the Rams will be without Zuerlein who is out for the season. At home the Rams are 4-4 this year. and the QB's they won against at home include Tom Savage, Scott Tolzien, Drew Stanton and Drew Brees.
Now how do the Falcons defense fare against the Rams offense? The Rams average over 360 yards per game and the Falcons defense allows just above 316 yards safe to say the Rams offense and the Falcons defense are matched up pretty well. The Falcons are 9th in overall Defense, 12th in passing defense and 9th in rushing defense. The Falcons haven't been great but still fairly good.
Now lets look at the Falcons offense, The Falcons offense has underachieved this year ranking 8th overall and averaging about 365 yards per game. 8th is still good, but with their offensive talent, they should be better. Now the magic number this year for the falcons is 20. When the Falcons score 20 points or more they are 10-0. In my opinion the Falcons have a better offense than the Rams. You could say Gurley is better than Atlanta's backs but they can be just as good. and as far as the passing game, i'm taking Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the receivers over the Rams Jared Goff and their receiving core.
How do the Falcons offense stack up against the Rams defense. This Rams defense has been pretty good this year, specifically in the passing game. They do have a few great stars on that side. according to DVOA stats found on Footballoutsiders.com, The Rams rank 3rd in passing defense which is pretty good but the rushing defense is ranked 22nd. The Rams are going to need to prove they are the team the media praises to win this game.
Before the Prediction, I want to look at a few things you cant find with numbers. One is home field advantage. Home field is important, no place more important than the playoffs. But LA is not a huge advantage. The Rams are at home but the stadium is not very loud and instead of the fans motivating the team, those fans wait for the team to motivate them. The Rams are grateful that the Falcons have to travel cross country to play. But one thing the Falcons have that the Rams don't, is experience. This Falcons team has been to the playoffs for years, not to mention their Superbowl run last year. These Rams players haven't been in the playoffs. They have a first year head coach and a second year QB.
Its hard to go against Vegas giving the Rams a 6.5 point favorite. This Rams team is very good and are the #1 scoring team in the league. But the Falcons have all the pieces for an upset. They may be traveling cross country but they have the experience. The reason I brought up the Rams kicker, Zuerlein, is i believe this game will be very close and the kicking game will be a factor. On the Rams side they are using a backup kicker and the Falcons are using their veteran elite kicker Matt Bryant. I expect this to be the difference.
- Prediction: Falcons 24 - Rams 22