NFL Playoff Odds & Preview – Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams
The Atlanta Falcons are back in the playoffs, but it’s a bit of a come-down from last season’s incredible performance, particularly on the offensive end. But here they get a new start, as they enter the NFC wild-card round with a game against the Los Angeles Rams, scheduled to kick off at 8:15 PM ET at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. While BetAnySports customers tune into it on NBC, they can place wagers in real time as they access to state-of-the-art software available through Live Betting Ultra.
Of course, the elephant in the room all season long for the Falcons was their collapse in the Super Bowl, where they blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots. And much has been made of the transition in the coaching staff, where offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left to take a coaching job elsewhere (with the San Francisco 49ers), and all indications are that it has been a difficult adjustment for Matt Ryan, who had his MVP season last year (34 touchdowns, seven interceptions), but has been much more pedestrian in 2017, with just 20 touchdown passes and a dozen INT’s. But we know what he is capable of, and he has probably the most dangerous weapon on the field at his disposal, in Julio Jones (1444 yards, 16.4 yards per reception), who curiously, caught only three touchdown passes.
The Rams went from worst to first when it came to scoring points, and that’s the first time that’s happened in the NFL’s expansion era. A lot of this can be attributed to the innovative mind of 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay, who has brought a lot of new ideas and helped develop Jarod Goff in a hurry. Goff, who was the top pick in last year’s NFL draft, completed 62% of his passes for eight yards and attempt, and his 28-7 ratio of touchdowns interceptions was exemplary. The Rams have averaged 29.9 points per game, and they have defeated three different teams who are appearing in this year’s playoffs.
In the NFL playoff odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Rams are laying points:
Los Angeles Rams -5.5
Atlanta Falcons +5.5
Over 48 points -110
Under 48 points -110
The Rams’ offense was third-best in the league in points scored per drive, and most of the time they played with a lead, owing to a rather fast pace they set right off the bat. That will be part of Atlanta’s challenge – to get off to a good start themselves so that they might force Los Angeles to play from behind. Are they capable of it? Well, it’s almost astounding when you take a look at the Falcons’ scoring numbers this year, as compared to last year. Whereas in 2016 they averaged 33.8 points per game, this year that figure is down to 22, and a lot of that has been pointed to Steve Sarkisian, the new offensive coordinator, whether that’s fair or not. The former USC head coach, who was actually Alabama’s offensive coordinator in the national championship game last year, brought a few new concepts in, and a lot of NFL observers recall that when Shanahan was first hired, Ryan had a tough time getting on the same page with him.
Yet, Atlanta could still move the football, as they were second-best in the NFL in yards gained on a per-drive basis. So don’t sell them short. Not only do they have Jones, and pretty good receivers like Mohammed Sanu and Tyler Gabriel to complement him, they also have a pretty good 1-2 punch in the backfield, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Whether they will be enough to counteract the Rams have in Todd Gurley (2093 yards from scrimmage) is another question. But we can tell you that the Falcons’ defense was not a disappointing unit. They were ninth in the league in yardage allowed, and they were a more-than-solid fifth best in the red zone. Only one team scored more than 26 points against them all season long. So to say the least, it will not be a cakewalk for the Rams to run off and hide. We are taking the points in this one.
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