At 1-5, Atlanta is not quite out of the playoff chase, but anyone who thinks they’re in it is not paying attention. The Falcons defense is worse than the 2018 version that was riddled with injuries. This team is averaging less than one sack per game and has no sacks or interceptions in the last 3 games.
Now, they get to face a Sean McVay-led offense that will be looking to bounce back after the 49ers beat them at home. Prepare for pain, Falcons fans.
Note: Assessments partially based on PFF scores.
In the trenches
The Falcons have a decent defensive interior. Grady Jarrett is a star and Tyeler Davison is a quality two-down tackle. The fun stops there. Takkarist McKinley and Vic Beasley have been invisible for three straight weeks, and even solid guys like Allen Bailey and Adrian Clayborn aren’t contributing much either. While this unit has done fairly well in stopping the run, they can’t get to the QB to save their lives. Have I lost faith in this unit? Outside of Jarrett and Davison, yes.
For the Rams, the offensive line is a bit of a mess right now. Andrew Whitworth is still solid at left tackle but is nearing retirement age. After him, the rest of the line is a mess. From Joseph Noteboom to Rob Havenstein, these guys are struggling this year. However, these guys have played well in the past as a unit, so a bounce back performance could absolutely be in the cards. Against Atlanta, it’s almost a guarantee.
Atlanta does have a chance to make a difference here. I suspect Grady will cause Jared Goff some problems in the pocket and he could limit the total output of this offense. Yet, the disappearance of Beasley, Clayborn, McKinley and Bailey can’t continue. If it does, the Rams will win a match up they shouldn’t.
The skill positions
This is where it gets bad. Isaiah Oliver is struggling badly. Kendall Sheffield is a rookie who has looked okay in spurts. Ricardo Allen and Kemal Ishmael are not much better on the backside of the defense, though we know Rico can be so much better. In the middle, Deion Jones is still playing well while De’Vondre Campbell is well on his way to ensuring he doesn’t get a new contract in Atlanta. Foye Oluokun deserves more playing time, though, so this is something to pay attention to in the coming weeks. This unit is a mess right now. With veteran Desmond Trufant likely to miss another game, this is not a good back half of the defense. Be afraid. Very afraid.
Jeff Goff is about what many people thought he’d be. McVay has maximized his talent, but he’s not going to take over games. Todd Gurley, on the other hand, is entirely capable of destroying defenses if he gets hot, as is promising rookie Darrell Henderson. On the outside, this receiving corps is pretty good. Brandin Cooks can fly, Cooper Kupp is a great receiver and Robert Woods is having another strong year as well. Toss Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee in at tight end and you’ve got a plethora of weapons that rivals what the Falcons have. This is an incredibly talented group. Gulp.
Yeah, there’s no contest here. Rams easily outclass this lost and sad Falcons secondary right now. This could be brutal. Big nod to the Rams here.
If the Falcons are going to limit the Rams, they have to win in the trenches. Given what we’ve seen the last four weeks, I have absolutely no faith it will happen. With the weapons the Rams have, this could be a bloodbath. Be prepared for it.