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NFC Wild Card Preview: Los Angeles Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Los Angeles Rams face off against the Atlanta Falcons in the first NFC Wild Card game. The game is scheduled for 8:15 pm EST on NBC.

NFC Wild Card Preview: Los Angeles Rams vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Offenses

A lot can happen in a year, and did it ever. After finishing the 2016 season with a lowly 4-12 record, the Rams did a complete 180 degree flip. The Rams organization fired Jeff Fisher and brought in then-Washington Redskins coordinator Sean McVay. The rest is history.

Under McVay, quarterback Jared Goff has thrived under the new offensive scheme. Throwing for 3,807 yards, 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, Goff has eased into the NFL-style of play. With weapons like Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, the passing game is rejuvenated.

Then there is perennial MVP candidate Todd Gurley. The third-year running back has had a resurgence as well. On 279 carries, Gurley has rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. He solidified his dual-threat status by hauling in 64 receptions for 788 yards and six scores.

We would be foolish to forget about the Atlanta Falcons, who just last year bulldozed their way to the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan has dropped a bit from his MVP campaign last season, but still put up good numbers. The Boston College alum has thrown for 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this year. Like Goff, Ryan has plenty of weapons to throw to in Julio Jones, Rutgers alum Mohamed Sanu, and Austin Hooper.

The Falcons running game is a powerful, two-headed monster in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Freeman is the primary rusher in the group, where he turned 196 carries into 865 yards and seven touchdowns. Coleman, on the other hand, is the pass-catching specialist, where he turned 27 receptions into 299 yards and three scores.

The Defenses

We can’t forget about the defenses. The Rams defense has the fourth-most sacks on the year with 48, as they have Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and Connor Barwin at their disposal. Los Angeles is tied for the sixth-most interceptions in the league with 18. However, the Rams have struggled this season against the run, allowing the fifth-most rushing yards per game (122.3).

The Falcons defense is stout against the run, where they have allowed the ninth-least rushing yards per game (104.1). With the likes of Vic Beasly, Takkarist McKinley, and Adrian Clayborn, Atlanta can put pressure on the quarterback.

Atlanta and Los Angeles are ranked 12th and 13th respectively in terms of pass defenses. The Falcons have allowed 214.3 yards per game, while the Rams have conceded 217.2 yards per game.

On paper, this has the makings of a close, competitive game of the weekend. Who will emerge victorious? The young upstart Rams, or the Falcons on a Super Bowl revenge tour?

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General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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