Offense To Propel Rams’ Victory Over Atlanta

Gurley has starred for the Rams

The NFL playoffs have arrived and the Wildcard Round’s second match sees the Los Angeles Rams host the Atlanta Falcons.

The Rams return to the post-season for the first time since the 2004 campaign when they were defeated by the Falcons in the Divisional Round.

Sean McVay has galvanised the franchise with the aid of running back Todd Gurley, whose form has seen him earn consideration to be MVP.

The Rams were seen as a figure of jest last season on the offensive side of the ball. Gurley regressed dramatically from his promising rookie campaign, while Jared Goff looked nothing like a quarterback that was selected with the first-overall pick in the 2016 Draft.

However, McVay has brought the best out of the duo, with Los Angeles boasting an electrifying offense. The club have the look of the Falcons team that reached the Super Bowl last season, which could blow away the rest of the NFC Conference.

Dan Quinn’s side have not been the team that stormed their way to the NFC title in the last campaign. The departure of Kyle Shanahan has seen their offense take a step backwards, and although Matt Ryan has been solid – he has not displayed his MVP form of 2016.

Steve Sarkisian has not been able to get the same tune out of Ryan and the offense as his predecessor. There is still a lot of talent on the roster with Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman present – and their playoff experience could loom large in the contest.

There are playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, so the Falcons will not be scared of the challenge that faces them in the Coliseum.

Los Angeles Rams

Gurley has starred for the Rams

The contrast between the Rams’ of 2016 and 2017 is significant. Under Jeff Fisher they were ranked dead last in points per game, scoring an average of 14 points. The hiring of McVay has been a masterstroke as he has transformed the fortunes of the club. No team averaged more points per game than Los Angeles’ 29.9 this season, highlighting the effect the new head coach has had on the club.

No player has benefitted more from the tutelage of McVay than Gurley. The running back had a promising rookie campaign, breaking the 1,000-yard barrier and scoring 10 rushing touchdowns. However, Gurley took a huge step back in the 2016 season, struggling to carry the offense as he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

The 23-year-old was under pressure to deliver and bounce back to his best form and has risen to the occasion spectacularly. Gurley has rushed for 1,308 yards along with another 788 gained through the air, scoring a total of 19 touchdowns. He will push Tom Brady close in the MVP race, although he will have his focus on a potential run to the Super Bowl.

Goff has played his part in his second season, throwing 28 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. His statistics look slightly better than his actual play due to the lack of pressure on him to perform. However, the 23-year-old has limited his mistakes, which has allowed his team rack up 11 wins and the NFC West crown.

Wade Phillips has moulded a strong unit on defense. His experience will be vital down the stretch, just two years removed from coordinating the Denver Broncos’ unit that won Super Bowl 50. Aaron Donald’s displays will go a long way in dictating how far the Rams’ advance in the NFC.

Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has taken a step back

The Falcons are back in the playoffs, which is testament to their character following their collapse in Super Bowl LI. It would have been easy for the club to fall away after their disappointment, but they’ve overcome a potential hangover to secure the number six seed. Quinn’s men have been far from their best, although they have come through the toughest division in the NFL to reach the post-season. Atlanta have one only one fewer match than the last campaign. However, the standard of their performances could not have been more different.

In 2016 Ryan and the offense blew away the majority of their opponents with their high-scoring attack. The departure of Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers has loomed large. Ryan has not performed to the MVP standard he produced last term, throwing fewer touchdowns and more interceptions. The 32-year-old has been solid, but has not been the match-winner week in – week out that he was, which leaves his side vulnerable to high-scoring teams.

Julio Jones continued to dominate, racking up 1,444 receiving yards, but he recorded only three touchdowns. Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu were also productive. However, Atlanta lacked the depth outside their top three receiving options that proved to be so effective under Shanahan’s coordination.

The defeat to the Patriots in the Super Bowl prompted changes on the defensive staff. Marquand Manuel has enjoyed a good start to his life as defensive coordinator. The Falcons have been consistent, ranking in the top 10 in fewest yards and points allowed. Should Vic Beasley find his best form along with Grady Jarrett – the Falcons could be in business in Los Angeles.

Betting Options

The Rams do not have a lot of playoff experience heading into the contest. Both their key men on offense Gurley and Goff are in the early stages of their respective careers and will want to get their first post-season win under their belts. The duo were rested for the final week of the regular season, which can have an adverse effect. Occasionally players and teams can be taken out of their rhythm following a week away from the action. Atlanta are entering the game off one of their best defensive displays of the season, limiting the Panthers to just 10 points.

McVay will have something up his sleeve on offense – therefore back the Rams to get the win at odds of -250   with BetOnline. Due to the Falcons’ defensive displays, backing them to cover +3.5 spread is good value at odds of +140   with 888Sport. Los Angeles’ path to victory will be holding back Ryan’s attempts to keep pace with their offense. Therefore take the under on 21.5 points for the Falcons’ offense at BetVictor at odds of -111 . Cooper Kupp has been a solid wideout for Goff this term and he could come up clutch with a score anytime at odds of +175   with BetVictor.

Tips Summary

Los Angeles Rams To Beat Atlanta Falcons
Saturday 6th January 2018 20:15 ET (Sunday 7th January 2018 01:15 GMT)
Odds: -250

Take +3.5 Spread Atlanta Falcons
Saturday 6th January 2018 20:15 ET (Sunday 7th January 2018 01:15 GMT)
Odds: +140

Atlanta Falcons To Score Under 21.5 Points
Saturday 6th January 2018 20:15 ET (Sunday 7th January 2018 01:15 GMT)
Odds: -111

Cooper Kupp To Score Touchdown Anytime
Saturday 6th January 2018 20:15 ET (Sunday 7th January 2018 01:15 GMT)
Odds: +175