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Falcons defense vs. Rams offense: who wins?

This is a matchup between two pretty lackluster groups, but someone has to come out on top, right? Right?

St Louis Rams v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last week the Falcons defense made Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense look like the Green Bay Packers in 2010 for a couple of drives, but they also showed signs of figuring some things out as the game went on. Ultimately, though, the defense looked like they have all season: inconsistent and somewhat clueless at times. Luckily, things get easier this week as they take on the Rams of Los Angeles—owners of the worst offense in the NFL.

Neither group really has a strength or an identity so there is very little possibility of predicting this matchup, I think. We’ll give it a shot anyway.

In the trenches

Pro Football Focus player ratings make things a little easier here because they are based on some form of quantifiable data, but this matchup is still not very solid. The Rams have one player along their offensive line that rates above a 75: Rob Havenstein has been hovering right around average for most of the year. Every other offensive lineman, however, is rated closer to 70 and have been a little below average on the season. Los Angeles is 30th in the league in rushing and have allowed 31 sacks on the season, so this is one of the worst offensive lines the Falcons will face all year.

In light of that, I think the Falcons have a chance to actually impact the line of scrimmage here. Grady Jarrett should have one of his better games of 2016 and Dwight Freeney and VicBeasley should be able to impact rookie Jared Goff as they line up against Greg Robinson and Rob Havenstein.

An important note is that I really have struggled to put my faith in this defensive line on a regular basis because they have yet to perform well regularly, so I will give them the edge here even though I think it is smaller than some people initially think.

Advantage: Atlanta Falcons

Skill Positions

The Rams have the 29th ranked receiving group in terms of yards per catch (the NFL’s default measurement, apparently) and the 26th if we go by touchdowns. The highlight of this offense is Todd Gurley by a wide margin. However, there are a couple of guys with the potential to win some matchups against Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, and Brian Poole—namely, Kenny Britt.

I think Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and the linebackers should have a better time against the L.A. group than they did last week against Kansas City. Lance Kendricks is no Travis Kelce so it seems likely that Neal has a better game, but Gurley is much better than a lot of other backs in the league, making him a candidate for the game no one ever sees coming against Atlanta. I think the Falcons hold the edge here, but there is always potential for any team to take advantage of Atlanta’s defensive deficiencies—especially with injuries being such an issue for Atlanta.

Advantage: Atlanta Falcons


The Falcons hold the edge here mostly because of who they are playing and how much the Rams have struggled on offense this year. Atlanta is a very inconsistent group that can make even the worst offense in the NFL look like an above-average unit, so I’m not entirely confident in their ability against Jeff Fisher’s Rams.

Despite my lack of incredible confidence in Atlanta’s defense, I’m even less confident in the Los Angeles offense. This game will come down to the line of scrimmage and which team can impact the other in the trenches. I think Atlanta has a chance to win that matchup, so I’ll give them the edge in the game. I don’t think it will be pretty, though.

Advantage: Atlanta Falcons