The Atlanta Falcons look to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2007 as they play hosts to the St. Louis Rams in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta looks to rebound after losing last week’s season opener to the New Orleans Saints. Under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 20-3 in games after a loss.
Also of note: those three losses all came in 2009.
The Falcons’ prowess at the Georgia Dome is well-documented. Since 2008, Atlanta boasts a 33-7 record at home – the best record in the NFC during that time span.
For Atlanta to avoid falling into an 0-2, they’ll likely have to lean on Steven Jackson, the former Ram. Atlanta’s stud wide receivers – Julio Jones and Roddy White – are both nursing injuries. Jones was limited in practice on Thursday, but White sat out for a second straight day.
Last week, Jackson produced 122 total yards (77 rushing; 45 receiving). Those numbers have a chance to be higher this Sunday.
The Rams produced four sacks last week against the Arizona Cardinals, and that pass rush could give the Falcons the same fits they had with the Saints pass rush. Defensive end Robert Quinn was responsible for three of the four sacks.
If left tackle Sam Baker and right tackle Lamar Holmes have similar games to last week, Matt Ryan will be constantly under duress.
A win against Atlanta would give St. Louis its first 2-0 start since 2001. The Rams’ season-opening win was their first since 2006.
If the Falcons defense plays similar to what it did last week, the Rams could be in trouble. Sam Bradford is a considerable step below Drew Brees, and if cornerback Asante Samuel plays this week (he was limited in practice today), the fourth-year quarterback could be in for a long day.
On the other hand, if the Rams are able to build a lead, it would allow the pass rush to tee off on the Falcons’ offensive line.
The Falcons had problems defending the tight end last season, but they were able to keep Jimmy Graham, one of the league’s best, to a modest four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown last week.
The Rams have another athletic tight end in Jared Cook, who hauled in seven receptions for 141 yards and a two touchdowns in his debut for his new team.
I expect the Falcons to get to 1-1. The Falcons’ dominance at home combined with their ability to bounce back after a loss is too much to bet against.
Points Scored: 17.0 (26th)
Total Offense: 367.0 (15th)
Passing Offense: 279.0 (13th)
Rushing Offense: 88.0 (14th)
Points Allowed: 23.0 (16th)
Total Defense: 419.0 (14th)
Passing Defense: 341.0 (28th)
Rushing Defense: 78.0 (14th)
St. Louis Rams:
Points Scored: 27.0 (13th)
Total Offense: 366.0 (16th)
Passing Offense: 299.0 (12th)
Rushing Offense: 67.0 (23rd)
Points Allowed: 24.0 (17th)
Total Defense: 390.0 (23rd)
Passing Defense: 304.0 (23rd)
Rushing Defense: 86.0 (17th)