The Falcons managed to sneak their way into the playoffs with the 6 seed after beating the Panthers 22-10 behind Matt Bryant’s 5 FGs (thrilling game). They take a 10-6 regular season record and become the single NFC representative from last year’s playoffs — and bring it into the newly revitalized Los Angeles Rams. The Rams sat all of their starters last week and got blown out by the 49ers 34-13 but ended up with the 3 seed anyway with an 11-5 record and a NFC West championship.
The Rams boast an explosive young offense — but are they ready for primetime? The Falcons have had some struggles this season, largely in part to the loss of OC Kyle Shanahan. An offense, which rolls out Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Julio Jones is no longer a scary matchup. The Falcons though, know how to play in January as they will look to get back to the Super Bowl after the most crushing loss ever against the Patriots last year.
QB – Matt Ryan vs Jared Goff
Goff had an outstanding year as he massively improved on a mediocre rookie year — but I’m rolling with Matty Ice. Sure, Ryan doesn’t have the stats that Goff did but this isn’t his first rodeo. I’d feel much more comfortable with the battle tested QB who managed to finish 10-6 after the worst possible way to lose a Super Bowl and the loss of his offensive coordinator.
RB – Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman vs Todd Gurley
Honestly, Freeman & Coleman may be the best combo in football — that being said Todd Gurley may be the best back in football. No player benefited more from the new regime in LA than Gurley, who finished with 1305 yds and 13 TD on the ground. Adding 788 yards through receptions as well? Yeah, I’m putting my faith in the former Georgia standout. Give me Gurley over almost any back.
WR/TE- Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, & Austin Hooper vs Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, & Cooper Kupp
Leaving out the Rams TE because I’ve never even heard of him to be honest. Any unit containing Julio Jones is probably going to win. Add Sanu to the mix? That’s a tough 1-2 punch to beat.
O-Line- Atlanta vs Los Angeles
I’m not going to pretend I sat here and graded their lines. Give me the line that allowed Gurley to run wild behind it.
D-Line- Atlanta vs Los Angeles
Aaron Donald is everything JJ Watt wants to be. Give me the Rams here
As a matter of fact, give me the entire Rams defense over the Falcons. The Rams have gotten by on their offense but that defense is mean. Top 10 in turnovers created and #4 in sacks screams trouble for Matt Ryan and that offense.
Coaching – Dan Quinn vs Sean McVay
Dan Quinn is brought down here by Sarkisian’s complete inability to run an offense. McVay has given new life to a franchise. I’ll take the NFL’s youngest head coach the advantage here.
Score Prediction: 27- 20 Rams
I love the narrative of a Falcons team getting back to the Super Bowl here but I don’t think they have enough to keep up with the Rams. It’s hard not to like McVay to lead his team to at least one playoff victory here.