Game: Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Breakdown: It was a wild season for the Atlanta Falcons. They started out 3-0, but ended up going 1-4 the next month-plus. Obviously, they got it together to get to 10-6, but their biggest wins were the victories over teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks — who were in the race with them.
Their Week 17 win against the Panthers was great, and sealed their spot but those earlier wins put them in position to win tie breakers and they still would have gone to the tournament even had they lost to end the season.
All that’s in the rear-view mirror now as they need to focus solely on the Los Angeles Rams, who will host the Dirty Birds on Saturday. L.A. is an up and coming team that surprised people this season by winning 11 games after getting just four wins a tear ago. Their rookie head coach got great results out of second-year quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley had an MVP-caliber year for them.
That offense will be hard to slow down and it sounds weird to say, but the Falcons don’t want to get into a shootout. Their offense has been too inconsistent to deal with that. They need to control the clock and keep the Rams off the field. Easier said than done.
Still, look for the experience to come through as the young Rams make a mistake late to give the Birds the win.
Prediction: Atlanta 23, Los Angeles 20