It will be Youth vs. Experience on the first day of the NFL playoffs in Tinseltown.
The Atlanta Falcons, the defending NFC champs and the last team to snare a playoff berth in the NFC this season, are back for another run towards the Super Bowl. This year’s task is going to be much harder than last year’s path, one that was paved with two home games. The Falcons will have to win three games on the road to reach Minneapolis.
The first step for the Falcons is to find a way to beat one of the upstarts of the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Rams.
Falcons Playoff History
The Falcons only have nine playoff wins in their history, two of which came last season. The team blew out both the Seahawks and Packers and looked to be doing the same to the Patriots before the infamous 28-3 collapse against New England in Super Bowl 51.
This is the first time Atlanta has been out on the road for a postseason game since 2012, though. That year, the team was clocked by the Giants 24-2. That gave the Falcons four straight away losses in the playoffs. Their last road victory in the postseason came back in 2003.
Rams Playoff History
The Rams are hosting their first playoff game since 2004 when they were in St. Louis. At that time, they were known as the “Greatest Show on Turf” and were contending for Super Bowls almost every seasons.
Things are obviously a lot different now. Stan Kroenke’s team is now playing in Los Angeles, bringing the City of Angels its first home playoff game since the Raiders left town. That said, Todd Gurley looks a lot like Marshall Faulk, Cooper Kupp looks a lot like Isaac Bruce and Jared Goff looks a lot like Kurt Warner. The names and the locations are different, but there might not be all that much separating these Rams from those Rams of yesteryear.
The Rams have a 19-24 record in the playoffs all-time, but this is their first appearance in the postseason since losing to these Falcons 47-17 in the 2005 postseason.
Why Atlanta Will Win in Wild Card Weekend
Experience definitely has to count for something, and the Falcons have plenty of it after last year. Matt Ryan had two of his best games ever in the postseason on the road to the Super Bowl, and he’ll be looking to rekindle that magic after a suspect season in 2017.
Pound for pound, the Falcons have the more-talented quarterback and the most-talented player on the field in general. Can Ryan work the ball to Julio Jones often enough to make a big impact? If so, this game could turn into a shootout in a hurry, especially with how efficiently both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman have proven to run the ball in the past.
Why Los Angeles Will Win in Wild Card Weekend
This Rams defense isn’t looked upon with enough regard in our eyes. Aaron Donald is one of the biggest forces in the NFL at defensive tackle, and his impact goes so much farther than what you see on the stat sheet.
This unit has been growing together and has steadily added new pieces like Mark Barron, Alec Ogletree and Lamarcus Joyner, and this could be the moment when it all comes together.
Let’s also not forget that Gurley probably should be given the respect of the MVP at this point. He won’t win the award since quarterbacks almost always claim it, but Gurley came up just shy of leading the team in both rushing and receiving.
Falcons vs. Rams Prediction
We aren’t buying the Falcons. They averaged just 15.0 points per game this year in seven games against playoff teams, and they went just 2-5 in those affairs. Both wins came at home.
The Rams of now look a lot like the Falcons of last year. They aren’t quite as dominant, but the result might be the same if this moment isn’t too big for Goff and the gang.
Not only do we think Los Angeles is going to get the job done, but we think it’s going to do so in huge fashion to send a massive statement to the rest of the NFC.
Falcons vs. Rams Pick: Los Angeles 42, Atlanta 20
Ready to join a contest for the first time at Contest General? Our NFL Playoff Contest is the perfect way to start! Join today and prove that you’re the king of the gridiron!