The Falcons played the Rams late in the 2016 season and crushed them 42-14 on their way to winning the NFC title, but there’s not much they can glean from that experience as they get ready for Saturday night’s game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Those were the final days of the previous Rams regime and even the holdovers from that team bear little relationship to what defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel calls “totally a different team.” Running back Todd Gurley fits into that category as he’s gone from averaging 3.2 yards per carry to MVP contention thanks to the threat he provides on the ground and as a receiver.
“He’s playing with a whole new motor about himself than he did the year before,” Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Guys up front are playing pretty hard.”
The good news for the Falcons is that their defense has done well against running backs all year. They only allowed one back to cross 100 yards in a game and they closed out the year by allowing opponents an average of 84.3 rushing yards over the final six games. That kind of effort would go a long way toward putting the Falcons in position to pull off a road win on Saturday night.