The Atlanta Falcons (7-5) take on the Los Angeles Rams (4-8) on Sunday in their last west coast trip of the season. Atlanta is coming off a tough, one-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Rams are fresh off a mauling by the New England Patriots.
As you can infer from the record, these are two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. Atlanta is one of the top offenses in the league and is currently leading their division. Los Angeles is floundering, having given up back-to-back big games on defense and doing almost nothing on offense.
From the eye test, this game appears very one-sided. What do the numbers say?
Points/game: Falcons 32.2 (1st), Rams 15 (32nd)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 412.0 (3rd), Rams 284.0 (32nd)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 302.0 (3rd), Rams 204.8 (29th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 27 (3rd), Rams 13 (T-26th)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 110.0 (9th), Rams 79.2 (30th)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 14 (T-3rd), Rams 5 (T-27th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 41% (13th), Rams 32% (32nd)
Turnover Margin: Falcons +3 (T-11th), Rams -6 (T-26th)
Atlanta is still atop the league in scoring with 32.2 points/game, and are 3rd in total yards, passing yards, and passing TDs. The rushing attack has been emphasized more in recent weeks, and the Falcons have moved up to 9th in rushing yards and 3rd in rushing TDs. They’re also above average on third down (13th) and in turnover margin (T-11th).
The Rams are, quite literally, the worst offense in the NFL. They average less than half the points per game of Atlanta (15 per game, 32nd), and less than 300 yards/game overall (284.0, 32nd). They are equally inept in passing (29th) and rushing (30th), and are worst in the league on third down, converting only 32% of their opportunities. Los Angeles has also been turnover prone, and are -6 on the year (T-26th).
Points/game: Falcons 27.6 (29th), Rams 21.8 (15th)
Total Yards/game: Falcons 381.7 (27th), Rams 345.0 (10th)
Passing Yards/game: Falcons 280.8 (32nd), Rams 231.0 (T-9th)
Passing TDs: Falcons 26 (T-30th), Rams 21 (T-18th)
Rushing Yards/game: Falcons 100.8 (15th), Rams 114.0 (21st)
Rushing TDs: Falcons 11 (T-21st), Rams 9 (T-11th)
Third Down Efficiency: Falcons 43% (26th), Rams 38% (8th)
Sacks: Falcons 25 (T-19th), Rams 22 (T-24th)
On defense, Atlanta is still among the worst in the league in most major stats. They’re 29th in points/game, 27th in total yards, and 32nd in passing yards. They’re better against the run: the Falcons are 15th in rushing yards and T-21st in rushing TDs. Atlanta has also improved markedly in the pass rushing department, as they have 25 sacks on the season (T-19th).
The Rams are a mostly average defense that have a few strong points. They’re 15th in scoring, 21st in rushing yards, and T-24th in sacks. But they’re also 10th in total yards, T-9th in passing yards, and 8th in third down efficiency. Yes, the Rams vaunted pass rush, with players like Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald, has less sacks than the Falcons thus far. Still, by the numbers, they’re a better defense than the Falcons, though that isn’t saying much.
Let’s be honest here: the Rams are a deeply dysfunctional team with serious personnel and coaching issues. While they do play somewhat better at home, this is a team that is coming off two blowout losses. They’ve scored 20-or-more points in one of their last five games and have won only one home game all season.
Add to that the fact that they’ve been all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason and you get a recipe for a blowout, or at the very least, a disappointing performance. There are also rumors of discontent and a “toxic” relationship between the coaches and personnel. None of this looks good for Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Atlanta is an offensive juggernaut that has been nearly unstoppable at times and has played very well on the road. The Falcons defense is exploitable by average or better offenses, but the Rams are far, far worse than average. Their offensive line, namely, is a huge liability, and the Falcons pass rush could be primed for a big game.
The status of Julio Jones and Jake Matthews will play in a role in just how dominant the Falcons might be in this game, but by both the eye test and the numbers, Atlanta should walk away with a comfortable win on Sunday.
What do you think about the game? Are you confident in Atlanta’s ability to hang with the Rams?