The 6th seeded Atlanta Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, meet the 3rd seeded Los Angeles Rams, led by quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley, in an NFL NFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday, January 6, 2018 (1/6/18) at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.
There was no 25-point cushion for the Falcons to protect this time, as there was when their 28-3 lead over the Patriots turned into a 34-28 defeat.
The Falcons continued to chew clock while moving the ball, with the Rams essentially only getting one possession in the third quarter.
And they took full advantage of it with a 8:15 minute drive that included 11 run plays.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is in the playoffs for the sixth time in 10 seasons and still searching for the ultimate prize. "We just wanted to get back to into doing what we do well".
Even the Falcons' pass plays were an extension of the ground game. Atlanta, who gained traction offensively before LA, got the first points of the game on a field goal and never looked back. We thought there would be more space early on in the run game. "But, we knew we were going to stay committed to it as part of our plan, and it certainly came through in the second half".
Ball control could be the way to go against the Eagles as well, especially if the weather conditions are hard (some warming from this week is expected by kickoff, but early forecasts suggested there also could be rain).
"He's one of the better players against the run at the position they play him at, but he's also one of the better interior pass rushers in the league", Ryan said.
The Falcons defense ranks eighth in points allowed at 19.7 points per game, meaning the Rams' high-scoring attack could be faced with a challenge. There is an asterisk, however. Would you be surprised if he had a three interception game? That could be problematic against the Falcons.
Predecessor Kyle Shanahan had coordinated a 2016 Falcons offense that led the National Football League in scoring at 31.6 offensive points per game. Atlanta boasted the highest-scoring offense in the league last season, but was held to its fewest points by the Eagles.
"Atlanta is really intriguing now", the defensive coach from another team said. "We were able to establish our tempo and tire them out".