Editorials

Preview: Jared Goff, Rams Return Home To Battle High-Powered Falcons

The Los Angeles Rams second half to the 2016 season hasn’t exactly turned heads. While the media has had a field day with rumors regarding Jeff Fisher’s turmoil within the organization, he still ended up receiving a two-year extension. The last four games for the 2016 season are now an audition of sorts, to see who has positive outcomes while playing alongside quarterback Jared Goff.

Sunday’s matchup features the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are currently 7-5, tied for first place in the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In a virtual tie, the Falcons remain in the midst of the postseason race, as each game is more important than the next.

On the other hand, the Rams have fallen to 4-8 on the season, in third place in the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks are out and ahead in the division, especially with the Rams losing seven of their last eight games.

In Fisher’s eyes, the key to the Week 14 matchup lies in time of possession. The Rams weren’t able to accumulate multiple lengthy drives these past few weeks, as Goff continues getting accustomed to the demand of being a NFL starting quarterback.

Goff missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, but Fisher stated that it is nothing serious and he will start on Sunday.

Running back Benny Cunningham (neck) and cornerback E.J. Gaines (thigh) did not practice on Thursday, with their status up in the air. After missing Week 13 with a chest injury, Tavon Austin has returned to practicing in full and should be ready to go on Sunday.

While the Falcons hold the top scoring offense in the NFL, Thursday’s injury report brought up some concerns for Ryan and coach Dan Quinn. Mohamed Sanu has yet to practice this week while dealing with a groin injury.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn has been dealing with a knee injury and has yet to practice, as is the case with tackle Jake Matthews. However, the main threat to the Falcons’ offense on Sunday is the status of Julio Jones.

Jones has a bothersome toe injury, which may very well be turf toe. However, the Falcons are playing the situation cautiously and have yet to give a timeline or announce his status for Sunday. The electric wide receiver is certainly the lead dog in the passing attack, as his consistent, elite play has him placed amongst the top wide receivers in the NFL.

Entering Week 14, the Falcons hold the third-ranked offense (412.0 YPG) and 27th ranked defense (381.7 YPG). To the contrary, the Rams hold the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL (284.0 YPG) and 10th ranked defense (345.0 YPG).

The Falcons 302.0 passing yards per game are ranked third in the NFL, while the Rams rank 29th (204.8 YPG) with rookie Jared Goff now leading the pack.

In terms of a rushing attack, the presumed sophomore slump of Todd Gurley has the Rams amongst the league worst. Entering Week 14, the Rams are ranked 30th in the NFL, averaging just 79.2 rushing yards per game. The Falcons rank ninth (110.0 YPG), as the tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are a lot to handle.

The Rams will need the production of Todd Gurley in order to keep the game close, as asking the defense to contain the No. 1 scoring offense seems unrealistic. However, Goff does have a glimmer of hope entering Sunday.

The Falcons are currently ranked the worst passing defense in the NFL, permitting 280.8 passing yards per game. Making his fourth career start, while being at home, does favor Goff. After putting up totals of 134, 214 and 161 passing yards, Goff should need a career high for the Rams to have a chance to succeed.