The Falcons are Road Dogs and Should Get Used To It
As the 6th and lowest-seeded team in the conference, this is a scenario to which Atlanta Falcons fans should become accustomed. Especially the ‘road’ part.
The Atlanta Falcons are 6.5-point road underdogs in this Saturday’s NFC wild card game versus the Los Angeles Rams. As the 6th and lowest-seeded team in the conference, this is a scenario to which fans should become accustomed. Especially the ‘road’ part. No matter how deep a run the Falcons make this postseason, will not host a game in these playoffs.
Should they upset the Rams, Atlanta would go on, most likely also as underdogs, to visit the Eagles on January 14. And if they were to overcome Philadelphia, they would make a trip to either Carolina, New Orleans, or Minnesota for the NFC Championship game. The Falcons couldn’t even be the nominal home team at Super Bowl LII (AFC teams are the home team in even-numbered years).
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Falcons +6½ (-110) 48½ (-110) +263
Rams -6½ (-110) 48½ (-110) -325
Either as division champions or second wild card-holders, the fact remains that the Falcons roster and coaching staff don’t have to act like they’ve been here before – they actually have. Conversely, this will be the first rodeo for all but six Rams players. The team itself has not been in the postseason since 2004.
"“There’s a lot of value in experience,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said via Gary Klein of the L.A. Times, but “for a younger team, we’ve demonstrated a maturity.”"
One of the few playoff-tested bodies on the Rams’ roster is left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who played in six postseason games for the Cincinnati Bengals.
"“It’s a bigger energy, it’s a great environment, all those things,” Whitworth said, also according to Klein. “But the truth is, it’s the same field, the same situations you were in the regular season when games were big. You just have to go out and play your style of football, be the best version of yourself you can be.”"
On the other side of the spectrum, young’uns like running back Todd Gurley will be making their first foray beyond the regular season, but the Falcons aren’t taking him for granted. Firsty Gurley led the league with 2,093 combined yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, and 786 yards before first contact, and finished second in rushing yards behind rookie Kareem Hunt. Gurley has a couple of friends and acquaintances in Atlanta, including nose tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Deion Jones – both of whom experienced firsthand what the Georgia product is capable of back in college – as well as Devonta Freeman.
"“We knew the physicality and style we wanted to play, so I definitely had an eye on him and looked at him and evaluated him,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said of Gurley according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “For a guy who had his size, he had exceptional ability to like put his foot in the ground and accelerate out. He had kind of the combination of the make-you-miss and the ability to kind of size you up and run you over.”"
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The Falcons are 7-1 this season when they hold opposing teams to fewer than 100 rushing yards rushing (which they have in fact done in the last four games), while the Rams are 6-0 when Gurley has 100 rushing yards or more.