Two dome teams will face off Sunday afternoon as former first overall pick Sam Bradford takes his unbeaten Rams into the Georgia Dome to battle Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. It was an incredibly tough Week 1 for the Falcons as they lost to their hated rivals, the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons had some moments in the game, but ultimately couldn’t get the stops when they needed to most. Another area of concern for Atlanta has to be the health of key wideout Roddy White. White’s ankle is definitely banged up and is essentially a decoy at the moment. His status remains iffy for this game, and though he should play the receiver is definitely not at full health. St. Louis meanwhile is coming off a narrow victory against the Cardinals in Week 1. Head coach Jeff Fisher definitely has the Rams on the right track, and with their defense leading the way, St. Louis is definitely not a team to take lightly. This match-up promises to be one full of intrigue, especially with Falcons running back Steven Jackson taking on his former Rams teammates. Read on below for our official write-up and selection.
Rams at Falcons Betting Odds:
St. Louis Rams +5 (-105)
@ Atlanta Falcons -5 (-115)
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Rams at Falcons Pick:
Upon first glance of seeing the spread in this match-up, I admittedly had to do a quick double-take. The Roddy White injury is no doubt a big blow to the Falcons’ attack, but the Pro-Bowl receiver will still be playing in Week 2. The Falcons remain the much better team in this game, and nothing the Rams have done in recent years would warrant only being five point underdogs against one of the best teams in the NFL in their home stadium. Jeff Fisher has his St. Louis team playing solid football, but I need a much bigger sample size before backing them in this spot. Expect a motivated Falcons group after already falling a game behind the Saints in the NFC South, and look for an improved outing from Atlanta’s defense as well.
While the Rams defense is definitely the straw that stirs the drink in St. Louis, their offense is farcical. Sam Bradford has not developed into the quarterback the St. Louis franchise thought they’d be getting, and they will struggle to move the chains today. Atlanta is very good at defending the run, and the unproven Daryl Richardson will not threaten the Falcons front-seven. Expect the Falcons to focus on Bradford moving the ball through the air, and they should force him into making some vital mistakes.
Expect a game featuring a lot of deep balls from both quarterbacks. Both the Falcons and the Rams have a wealth of talent at the receiver and tight-end positions, and going up against questionable secondaries will create the potential for a lot of big plays. In a shootout-like game however, you’ve got to roll with Matt Ryan over Sam Bradford. One of the big keys for Atlanta will be containing St. Louis’ pass rush. They arguably have one of the strongest rushers in the league along the defensive line in Chris Long, and if Atlanta can double him, and/or contain him, things should work out well for the Falcons.
Look for the Falcons to feed the former Ram Steven Jackson early and often on Sunday. St. Louis pass-rush needs to be kept off balance by running plays and short screen passes, and look for Atlanta to adopt that approach. They’re the more talented group, and though the Rams have some scary elements and key advantages, home-field advantage in the Georgia Dome is unlike many others in the NFL. Starting 0-2 is not a healthy proposition for the Falcons, and their veteran-laden squad remains well aware of that. Expect a workmanlike approach on Sunday, resulting in a comfortable 10-point Falcons victory. The Rams aren’t yet ready for this stage just yet, roll with the Falcons laying a fairly short number.
PICK = Falcons -5 (-115)