The Rams take on the Falcons in an NFC clash of old versus new. According to OddsShark, the Rams are favored by 5.5 points, and the over-under is set at 48 points.
Los Angeles is 9-7 against the spread this season, while Atlanta went 7-9 against the spread. The high-powered Rams offense has pushed L.A. over the point total in 10 of their 16 games. The Falcons games have gone the opposite way with 11 out of 16 games going under the point total.
The OddsShark computer projects a 27.8-17.4 Rams victory. The computer is taking the Rams to cover the spread, and the under on the point total.
Just a season ago, the Falcons had one of the top offenses in the league, but Atlanta has taken a step back this season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta ranks in the middle of the pack averaging just 22.1 points per game. The Rams lead the entire NFL putting up 29.9 points a game.
Atlanta does benefit from a top 10 defense which gives up only 19.7 points a game. The Rams are not too far behind allowing 20.6 points per contest. Los Angeles has lost two of their last four games, but in their final game against the 49ers the team rested their starters. The Rams have wins over the Saints, Titans and Jaguars. Los Angeles did lose to the NFC’s top two seeds, the Vikings and Eagles.
The Falcons fought through losing four of five games mid-season to make the playoffs. Atlanta has won three of their last four games. One concerning factor to consider is only two of the Falcons 10 wins came against playoff opponents. Atlanta does have the advantage of having experience making a deep playoff run, while the majority of Rams players are new to the postseason scene.
Rams coach Sean McVay spoke with the Atlanta Journal Constitution about what makes Matt Ryan difficult to defend.
He’s executed some of the play action and movement game as well as anybody over the last couple of years. He’s as big of a reason as anybody why [the Falcons were] playing in the Super Bowl last year, winning the MVP. … [He found] a way to get a win to get to 10 wins again.
The key matchup is how the Falcons can defend Rams running back Todd Gurley, who rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Falcons do have a top 10 ranked defense in rushing yards allowed, but it is not as simple as slowing down Gurley’s runs. Gurley also had 788 receiving yards and six touchdowns. McVay’s innovative offense uses him as much in the passing game as he does in the rushing attack.
For as much as the Falcons defense will look to keep Atlanta in the game, it is hard to imagine this offense keeping up with the Rams. Ryan has struggled to look like the quarterback we saw a season ago, and the Rams offense is the best unit the Falcons have faced this season. The Rams do not have much of a home field advantage, but look for their explosive offense to carry them to the Divisional Round. We do expect the Falcons defense combined with their experience to keep them in the contest.
Heavy’s Pick: Rams 31 Falcons 27. Falcons Cover +5.5 Spread. Over on the Total.