Thanks to the Los Angeles Rams ending up on the losing end Saturday night 26-13, Doug Pederson and company will now face the defending NFC champions in the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday, which should make for an interesting battle. Atlanta ended up winning that contest 47-17, but lost in the NFC Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles the next weekend.
The Falcons dominated time of possession, 37:35-22:25, and a pair of clock-chewing drives in the second half resulted in field goals before Matt Ryan floated a eight-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 5:48 remaining to put the game out of reach.
Jared Goff made a few fantastic throws, but he was wildly inconsistent. Gurley II sat out the season finale against San Francisco, giving him an extra week to rest up before going up against a Falcons defense that finished ninth in the National Football League in both rushing defense and total defense.
Now, it's impossible to expect Atlanta's defence to bottle up Rams star Todd Gurley completely, especially on the ground AND in the passing game...
Three Rams special teamers, kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Johnny Hekker, and kick returner Pharoh Cooper, were all named to the All-Pro 1st Team this week. Cooper bobbled several other kicks as jitters were clearly a factor. At the very least, the Falcons should be able to slow down the Rams enough to allow Ryan and Jones to take over. Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan leads a once-prolific offense that has struggled to find consistency under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian. The fourth-year defensive tackle from Pitt was a disruptive force on almost every play. "I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was better than everybody". In the last game he played this season, a Week 16 win for the Rams against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Gurley II became just the third player in National Football League history to have at least 100 yards rushing and 150 yards receiving in the same game, joining Ollie Matson (1954) and Herschel Walker (1986).
Featuring a young team on the rise along with a trio of NFC South squads, there are plenty of intriguing storylines heading into the first round of the playoffs.
And it's on defence where the Falcons can win Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Already making 14 regular-season appearances as a member of the Rams this season, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defender has produced 86 total tackles, one sack, three interceptions and four pass defenses.
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