Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

NFL Wild Card Playoffs: Public Bettors Split on Falcons vs. Rams 1/6/18

Their roster has only six players with National Football League postseason experience, and they're led by the youngest head coach ever to earn a playoff berth. But things shifted for the Falcons in the third quarter, when they finally got a consistent ground game going.

McVay engineered the turnaround with a quarterback in Jared Goff whom some were writing off previous year, and with running back Todd Gurley, who has always had undeniable talent but had a disappointing season in 2016. They were the third NFC South team to make the field, and they enter the playoffs with very modest expectations nationally - even as the only team in the conference to return to the postseason from last season.

The Rams didn't make it easy on them.

"As long as you have a passion and you can contribute, and that's what you like doing".

"I'm O-fer, so I don't have much experience in winning", he joked this week. I love working with the players that I have.

That kind of discrepancy is why he said he puts little stock in whether last season's easy victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum could help the Falcons this week - mainly because the Rams defense has flourished in a new scheme devised by 70-year-old coordinator Wade Phillips. That title was a long-awaited reward for decades of hard work, but Phillips is visibly energized by the chance to contend for another ring with the NFC's No. 3 seed.

The last time the franchise hosted a playoff game in Southern California was January 4, 1986 when they beat the Cowboys 20-0 in what was, interestingly enough, the final playoff game Tom Landry ever coached. "Of course, you always get nervous".

The Falcons' defence did more than enough to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offence, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut. Scarcely a day went by during the Rams' playoff push when McVay didn't publicly express his gratitude for being able to rely on the experiences and strategies accumulated by Phillips.

"I think it comes from the top down", Goff said. "It doesn't matter where we're going, we're going".

While the Falcons eventually pulled away, Ryan was harassed for much of the game by the Rams defensive front. They dominated time of possession and softened up the Rams defense.

The Falcons are 0-4 ATS in their last four playoff road games and 2-7 ATS in their last nine playoff games while the Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last five following a loss and the favourite is 13-3 in their last 16 meetings. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, but L.A. turned it over on down at the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play.

With a passer's rating of 100.5, Goff joined Kurt Warner and Trent Green as the only Rams quarterbacks in history to post a passer rating of 100 or better. Atlanta is scoring far fewer points than it did a year ago, and Matt Ryan appears far from the MVP we saw in 2016. "I don't know if that really gives me value".

On the ensuing kickoff, Pro-Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper fumbled the ball, giving the Falcons the ball on the Rams 31-yard line.

Like this: