Atlanta Falcons (10-6 SU, 7-9 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS)
NFL Wildcard Round
Date/Time: Saturday, January 6th, 8:15pm ET
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Los Angeles, CA
by Bob, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +6.5 / LAR -6.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5
It seems just like a few weeks ago we were getting ready to kickoff week one of the NFL season. We have gone through seventeen great weeks and now the time has come…win or go home. The second game of the Saturday slate is going to be a fun one when the defending NFC Champion, Atlanta Falcons, head into Los Angeles to take on a Rams team that performed well beyond preseason expectations. The Falcons clinched the sixth seed in the final week of the season with a 22-10 win over the Carolina Panthers while the Rams have been one of the better teams all season.
With Atlanta having to travel west and the Rams being solid on both sides of the ball, Los Angeles comes in to this game as a 6.5 point favorite over the Falcons. The total points are sitting at 48.5 combined as of late Tuesday night. The Falcons in 2017 under performed at times and they finished with a 7-9 record against the spread while the Rams went 9-7 against the spread on their way to an 11-5 record in 2017.
It is very interesting to see the public perception of this game. Atlanta, still a very talented team, and the only team in the NFC playoffs that made it in 2016. Every other NFC playoff team missed the postseason last year and this could very well play into the Falcons favor. With that said, the public is not buying it. The Rams have 61% of the betting action while the Falcons at this time only have 39% This is the reason this line went from 4.5 points to 6.5 points in just a couple of days. If the money keeps coming in on Los Angeles, I could see this spread going to a full touchdown in favor of the Rams by kickoff.
The Rams have been one of the great stories of the NFL in 2017. A team that has been pretty bad for the last few seasons have finally got themselves in position to make a deep post season run. Los Angeles is the three seed in the NFC and lets not forget, the top seeded Eagles are now without their starting quarterback which could make a huge difference in the landscape of the playoffs. The Rams won the NFC West and is the only team from that division to make the playoffs. Much, if not a majority of the Rams success this season has come on the shoulders of running back, Todd Gurley. Gurley ended the regular season with 1,305 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns and it does not stop there…he added another 788 yards receiving and another six scores. This kid is a stud and many experts as well as myself, feel that this kid is the NFL MVP of 2017. Time will tell what the voters actually think.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rams are much more than just Todd Gurley, as good as he is. Along with Gurley, second year quarterback, Jared Goff, has performed well and helped this team get where they are today. Goff threw for 3800+ yards and 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions on a 61% completion percentage. The only knock on Goff is that he did have eight fumbles and a team with a good pass rush…which Atlanta has…could cause some issues.
The Rams are good, but due to lack of postseason experience I do not see this game as an easy task. Atlanta is very talented and has been here before, this game could be a fun one and I think both teams not only have a chance in this one, but the winner of this game is my pick to go to the NFC Title Game.
I have said all season long that this Atlanta Falcons team, as talented as they are, have been a roller coaster. The players themselves on offense admit that they have yet to have a game that they clicked on all cylinders. After seventeen weeks you have to ask yourself…is it ever going to happen? But lets be honest, no one in the NFC wants to face this offense knowing what they are capable of. Even in a “down” season, the Falcons are ranked in the upper half of the league in points scored but the real testament to what has got this team into the postseason is the defense. The Atlanta Falcons are ranked 8th in the NFL in total points allowed in 2017. If the Falcons can stop Gurley and force Goff to beat them with the passing game, I really like Atlanta’s chances.
From an injury standpoint in this game, the Falcons have placed starting offensive guard, Andy Levitre, on IR and now Ben Garland will take over the role. Garland has played the position a few times already and he is not much of a drop off, this will just be a question of depth at this point. Along with Levitre, tight end, Levine Toilolo will also be sidelined this weekend but has not been placed on IR. There has also been talk that Julio Jones and Devonte Freeman have been held out or limited in practice all week due to injuries, but both have stated that they will be playing on Saturday night and that the limited practice is just precautionary headed into this game. As for the Los Angeles Rams, wide receiver, Cooper Kupp and linebacker Mark Barron are both out with another receiver, Pharoh Cooper is questionable but should play.
Although the Rams are favored by nearly a touchdown, I see this game being a toss up. I will not be surprised by either outcome and something is telling me that we are in for a fun one. The Falcons are breathing a sigh of relief and they now have new life which could rejuvenate them for another deep run but on the flip side, this Rams team is very confident and on a mission themselves. I will not predict a winner but I will predict that someone wins this game 27-23. I think we will have a four quarter battle that will come down to the final moments. With that said, I like the Falcons plus the points.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE ATLANTA FALCONS +6.5. - Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% bonus up to $250 at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted betting sites: BOVADA