Last Week: 5-13
All-Time Results: 41-42, +4.0 Units
Los Angeles Rams -3 @ Atlanta Falcons – 1 Unit
We have here a juxtaposition between a team clinging to Super Bowl contention vs. a team that has long since let go of the rope of relevancy.
On Tuesday the Rams traded away a decent corner in Marcus Peters. Later that day, they acquired a great corner in Jaylen Ramsey, yielding several draft picks in the process. LA has now committed either league-high or close to league-high money to their starting QB, RB, WR, DE, and will soon make that same commitment to Ramsey at CB. While Ramsey should help immediately in Wade Phillips’ Man-to-Man system – making Julio Jones’ life much harder this week, for example – there is also perhaps a greater psychological benefit to this move.
The Rams have sent a clear message to their team. Their window of opportunity is now. Anyone not going with the motion of the ocean will be thrown overboard. HC Sean McVay, who already excels at getting his team to hone in on details, will have that much more of a captive audience as he prepares his team to get a win in the stadium they lost last year’s Super Bowl.
Conversely, the Falcons players & personnel are preparing for a post-Dan-Quinn administration. A defense built on its pass rush has none. Atlanta ranks dead last in Football Outsider’s Adjusted Sack Rate, significantly worse than those Miami Dolphins. Football Outsiders ranked Jarred Goff 5th in the NFL last year when not facing pressure, only behind HOF greats like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
CG technology set spread for this game at Rams -2 prior to the season. While both of these teams have played lower than expectations, I would argue the Falcons drop off has been far more precipitous. The Rams, after all, looked every bit the part before dropping the last three games.
Los Angeles Rams -9 @ Atlanta Falcons (+200) – .1 Units
Los Angeles Rams -13.5 @ Atlanta Falcons (+325) – .1 Units
Sean McVay’s Rams – just like Anthony Lynn’s LA Chargers – have been much better on the road than at home. This makes sense. Only two years into existence, the LA teams have not yet established a passionate fanbase. On the road, McVay’s detailed approach mitigates much of the road disadvantage. Since 2017 the Rams are 16-4 SU on the road, with 8 wins of those coming by 14+ or more points.
Much like the Patriots ended the Jay Gruden era in an ugly blowout, I think the chances are high these Falcons officially quit this week while the more buttoned-up program illustrates the waywardness of the home regime. Atlanta has one of the best Home Field Advantages when they are a top team. When they are bad, however, their HFA drops off precipitously.
The Falcons to me feel like a great candidate to fall victim to the “dream-crusher” spot. Not only did they lose to one of the worst teams in the league last week, but they did so in the most deflating fashion. They came back from 17 to tie in the 4th quarter, only to lose after a couple more TD exchanges thanks to a missed extra point. Kickers miss 3% of extra points. Analytics people say one miss has no bearing on the true merit of the team. But results for better or worse change programs – and last week’s soul-crushing defeat sent a clear signal of the end of an era.
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