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The Rams this season have an eerily familiar look to the Falcons from last year: an offensive juggernaut that seems to put up points at will. This year’s Falcons have flipped the switch to a defensive team that stops offenses from forcing their will. So now that we’re up to date on who does what, let’s see what’s going to happen.
Keys to the game:
That Rams offense, as mentioned earlier, is actually the best in the NFL at 29.8 points per game. They are going to need every one of those points versus a much improved Falcons defense. What you want is rhythm if your Los Angeles. Taking shots at the defense is the best way to attack, especially runs up the middle and passes to the middle of the field. Taking deep shots downfield will also be imperative the Rams to get to a fast start. The Falcons defense (although better of late) does not force a ton of turnovers, especially interceptions. In fact, taking deep shots helps in a couple of ways. One, Atlanta is prone to getting penalties at the worst possible times when an opponent is rolling. Two, you don’t want to give them a short field on defense, as they are very good in the red zone at stopping their adversaries.
Defensively they will have to get after the quarterback. No need to hold back the stunts and blitzes upfront. It’s a good game plan to bring pressure at the Atlanta guards. Shoot the gaps and it will help against the pass and the run. The Rams need to watch out for the wheel routes and catches out of the backfield by the running backs, as those usually hit for big plays. It will be difficult to stop the wide receivers on the edge, just don’t get beat on double moves and pick plays.
The Falcons are a middle of the pack scoring team, but don’t let that fool you. Massive weapons in the passing game, a pair of good running backs, and former MVP Matt Ryan at QB is still a serious arsenal. The Falcons will need their play calling to match their talent. Ryan should use the edge receivers as much as possible. Plays down the sideline or towards them should keep the Rams defense spread out. Running off tackle and reverse plays should be in heavy use. Spreading the Rams out is their best chance to find holes against a very good defense. Getting them to over pursue and reversing field should give them big play chances.
Defensively, Atlanta needs to play much tougher upfront. The pass rush is good, but the Rams can really punch you in the mouth. Force Rams quarterback Jared Goff to throw to the outside, and eliminate the pass plays where their linebackers are stuck in coverage, and Atlanta may make some big plays. The Falcons get good pressure with just four rushers, but they shouldn’t be afraid to blitz. The Rams offense is good but inexperienced. Making them uneasy can lead to big mistakes. Atlanta needs to stay away from penalties. In all of their losses the formula was turnovers on offense and stupid penalties on defense.
Atlanta’s X-factor is Julio Jones. The awesome wide receiver will have to shred the Rams secondary. There’s not a player in the NFL that can match him up one on one. Force the L.A. defense to double him up and bring help. That will surely open up the field for the rest of the offense.
The Rams X-factor is Todd Gurley. The MVP candidate is an absolute dynamo that can run all over you or catch a pass, then run all over you. In this game his pass catching ability will be a plus. Using him in that fashion will kill almost any zone and force the Falcons to put a man directly on him.
This will be the first time the Falcons score 20 this season and lose a game. Rams win 33-27.