Through your red-and-black sunglasses, this game might look like a potential cakewalk for the 7-2 Atlanta Falcons. Don't make me slap those glasses off your face!
The Rams are a dangerous team. Steve Spagnuolo's young squad has a future star at quarterback, a potent running back and a solid pass rush that will keep them in games most weeks. The Falcons have shown an inclination to win narrowly after an insane amount of work and momentum changes, kinda like an epic fight in Dragon Ball Z. That's a recipe for a game that you should make like an insomniac for.
I expect the Falcons to win this game, before you accuse me of being Benedict Arnold with a keyboard. They're too good not to put away the Rams, but it's going to be a challenge. If this team can carry their momentum over from the Ravens game, they should answer resoundingly. An 8-2 record would be awful purty.
Make like Super Mario and hit the jump.
Steven Jackson vs. Falcons Defense
If they can't establish the ground game, the Rams will be hard-pressed to get Sam Bradford & His Amazing Untalented Receivers revved up. Stopping Steven Jackson is perhaps the most key to winning in this one.
Jackson's an interesting back in a lot of ways. The way he runs, which I would describe as a recently castrated bull in an Arizona Cardinals china shop, is almost guaranteed to ensure he has a shorter career. That approach also serves to make him a tough back to get your hands on and pull down, and our Falcons are not famous for their wrap-up tackling techniques. Stopping him will be a little bit like stopping Frank Gore with a little more bulk and a little less agility.
The Falcons will have to mobilize their linebackers to keep an eye on Jackson. Curtis Lofton will hopefully make a new nemesis today.
Matt Ryan vs. Rams Defense
Ice has one task before him: Destroy the Rams. In the other corner, you have guys like Chris Long, who have one task before them: Destroy Matt Ryan. Ruh roh.
The offensive line has played markedly better recently, and I can't speculate if that's due to Sam Baker getting healthier or a pact with the devil made by Mike Smith. The Falcons' chances of keeping Ryan alive seem better than they did against say the Eagles, which could be a difference maker in this one.
The Rams don't have an exceptional secondary, so neutralizing the pass rush should allow Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez to traipse through defenders like it ain't no thing. Ice has shown that he lives up to his name with a little time, so hopefully the Falcons will give it to him.
Falcons Pass Rush vs. Sam Bradford
Shake, rattle and roll over Bradford, and success is sure to follow.
Because Danny Amendola provides Bradford with a comfortable safety valve, it would be great to plant the rookie quarterback in the turf before he can connect on 17 consecutive five yard dump passes to his favorite option. The Rams line isn't great by any stretch, so John Abraham and his friends ought to be able to put the heat on Bradford. It all ties back to stopping S-Jax, of course.
Falcons vs. Mardy Gilyard
With his eyes of sunfire, Mardy Gilyard has the potential to terrorize the Falcons. Beware, O Falcons! Bewarrrreeee!