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NFL Playoffs: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams

07 January 2018

With Los Angeles down by 13, Goff led the Rams back down the field but couldn't complete the drive and turned the ball over on downs at the Atlanta 5-yard line.

Linebacker Mark Barron and kick returner Pharoh Cooper are active for the Los Angeles Rams' wild-card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Despite all the punchlines, the Rams hardly have reason to hang their heads.

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Whereas I have been critical of a fairly laid back kind of attitude among players like running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Jared Goff, it might begin with a more relaxed head coach like Sean McVay, who has trust and faith with who's in the building than those who watch from outside of it. That trio alone already gives them an excellent long-term foundation for sustainable winning.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is in the playoffs for the sixth time in his 10-year career, but hasn't had the consistent postseason success to match his career stats. That 42-14 loss to the Falcons was a catalyst in the Rams' transformation from LA laughingstocks to NFC West champions, because coach Jeff Fisher was sacked the next day. Atlanta has held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in five of the last six games, surrendering just 84 yards per game on the ground over that span.

The Falcons didn't meet those expectations during the season.

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According to the report, attendance at Rams games during the 2017 season was down approximately 25 percent from 2016.

Where Cam Newton goes, so do the Panthers. The three takeaways, all of them coming on Cam Newton interceptions, ended up being the only time this season that Atlanta forced three turnovers in a game. It's been tough for Newton, to say the least, with little available in the way of legitimate weapons outside of Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen.

The Panthers will need the 2015 Most Valuable Player to put in an MVP-type performance to overcome the division-rival Saints on Sunday. It's hard to get yards when you can't keep your feet. Gurley finished with 101 yards on 14 carries, though 61 yards came in the fourth quarter.

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Instead of relying exclusively on their future Hall of Famer, New Orleans leaned on one of the best running back duos in National Football League history in Mark Ingram and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara. In the last two games, Bryant has accounted for 27 of the Falcons' points, booting nine field goals. But the question of which team shows up for the playoffs lingers.

NFL Playoffs: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams