The Los Angeles Rams are in desperate need of a win heading into their Week 7 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons following a three-game losing streak.
With the Rams in danger of letting the 2019 NFL season slip away, general manager Les Snead pulled the trigger on a number of blockbuster deals ahead of the trade deadline. They parted ways with cornerback Marcus Peters while essentially replacing him with former Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are also in the midst of a disappointing start to the 2019 campaign after going 1-5 thus far. It is safe to say that they have fallen vastly short of expectations and are relying on a two-game homestand to help save their season.
While this matchup has all the makings of a high-scoring affair, it has become a must-win game for each team at this point in the year.
Rams Offense vs. Falcons Defense
The Rams have had to make some significant changes to their offensive line with Joseph Noteboom out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL and MCL. Although guard Jamil Demby had been the one to replace Noteboom against the San Francisco 49ers, head coach Sean McVay has announced that offensive lineman David Edwards will get the start at guard this week in Atlanta.
The adjustments only raise further questions about the state of the offense moving forward. Edwards’ performance along with the rest of the offensive line will serve as the determining factor in whether or not McVay’s group can get back on track.
The Falcons’ defense was dealt a blow to their secondary with cornerback Desmond Trufant ruled out for Week 7 with a toe injury. Although the Rams’ passing attack has been inconsistent this year, being short a starter is hardly ideal if they hope to contain their trio of wideouts in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
Rams Defense vs. Falcons Offense
Los Angeles was able to pull off a blockbuster deal for Ramsey ahead of the trade deadline and it could not have come at a better time given this week’s matchup with wide receiver Julio Jones. McVay is holding out hope that the All-Pro will be able to make his debut in a star-studded showdown with Jones, however, it remains to be seen if he feels comfortable to take the field just yet.
Although the acquisition of Ramsey provided this defense with just the boost they needed, the Rams still have a number of glaring voids on this side of the ball due to the recent rash of injuries. Atlanta will undoubtedly be looking to take advantage, especially if their new star cornerback is unable to play.
Despite their struggles this season, the Falcons have had no problems putting points on the board in recent weeks. They are more than capable of forcing opponents into a shootout if they find their rhythm early on behind running back Devonta Freeman.
3 Keys To Victory
1. Back To Basics On Offense
It appeared as though the Rams were adamant about establishing the run early on against the 49ers in Week 6 and it led to a touchdown on their opening drive. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there after the subsequent stalled drives essentially forced them to abandon the run.
As a result, their pass-heavy approach has become rather predictable as of late and the lackluster protection up front has allowed opposing defenses to pressure quarterback Jared Goff with a full head of steam on most plays. The only way to counter this is for McVay to get back to trying to keep the opposition on their toes with misdirection and play-action schemes.
Of course, the only way to do so is for them to establish a rushing attack that is consistent.
2. Contain Atlanta’s Firepower
There is certainly no shortage of weapons on offense at quarterback Matt Ryan’s disposal. The biggest concern is easily trying to contain Jones, however, Freeman and tight end Austin Hooper have also proven capable of taking advantage against porous defenses.
Freeman is coming off his best game of the season after tallying 118 yards and two touchdowns on 22 total touches against the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, Hooper continues to establish himself as one of the most promising, young tight ends in the league with 42 receptions for 480 yards and three touchdowns through the first six games.
The Rams may very well have to pick and choose which player they will allow Ryan to expose them with given all the holes on defense due to injury.
3. Limit Errors In All Phases Of The Game
There have been very few positives for the Rams to hang their hat on. While the offense has fallen vastly short of expectations and the defense remains in a state of flux, the special teams also uncharacteristically endured their fair share of struggles as well this season.
If this game comes turns into a shootout as expected, then the outcome could very well be decided by which team commits the fewest mistakes. any interceptions, botched plays on defense, or missed kicks may serve as the deciding factor in which team ends their losing streak.