NFL Wild Card Weekend: Falcons at Rams Odds, Picks, Live Score
NFC 2018 Wild Card Game One
Defending National Football Conference Champion Atlanta, who had a first round playoff BYE last year, begin their 2018 postseason run on the road with a trip to Southern California. The Falcons are back in the playoffs for a second straight year. Following a long drought, that was fraught with tough times, the Los Angeles Rams return to second season action for the first time since they lost to Atlanta (17-14) during 2004 NFL Divisional round playoff action a long nineteen years ago.
Jumping out of the starting gate to a 3-0 start, Atlanta regressed as the Falcons went 1-4 over their next five matches. Closing strong, RB Matt Ryan and Crew won six of eight games – including a 22-10 win versus Carolina at home in Week 17. Far from the offensive juggernaut they were in 2017, when they put up 540 points, Atlanta posted just 353 points this season. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been saddled with most of the blame for the sharp decline in point production.
Following a disastrous run, that included their move from St. Louis back to SoCal, Los Angeles had a regular season to remember. The Rams were not good while posting a 60-131 record during a twelve-year slide from 2005 to 2016. The dismal stretch included seven seasons with at least ten losses. Suffering a rough 2016 rookie campaign, QB Jarred Goff led the Rams revival as he passed for 3804 yards and 28 TD with just seven INT. Goff appears have a bright future in Los Angeles.
FINAL SCORE: Atlanta Falcons 26-13 Betting Results: Falcons ATS & S/U & UNDER
Moneyline: Falcons +215 ML @ SportsInteraction
Playing in the ultra-competitive NFC South, that has three teams in the postseason, the Falcons were money line favorites during 14 of their 16 games this season - posting a 9-6 S/U record. Atlanta burned bettors badly as thick chalk vs Buffalo (-370) and Miami (-833) and lost as smaller favorite to Minnesota (-130) Carolina (-149). Atlanta was straight up pups twice and lost both games to New England and New Orleans. Four of Atlanta’s nine wins were by four points or less.
Making rookie head coach Sean McVaya a front-runner for coach of the year, Los Angels enjoyed a huge turnaround in 2017. McVaya is the youngest coach in NFL history and took the Rams from a 4-12 mark in 2016 to a 9-5 record and a playoff berth this season. LAR was chalk eleven times and posted an 8-3 S/U record in those games. The Rams were decent as pups at 3-2 and they had solid wins on the road in Dallas, Jacksonville and Seattle. We don't fully trust this young group of Rams.
Point Spread: Atlanta +6 (-115) ATS @ Bodog
Receiving a ton of respect from the bookmakers, Atlanta was the favorite in 13 or their 16 games this season. They didn’t really live up to the expectations though as Falcons went 6-7 as chalk. As a visitor, which they are in this Wild Card contest, Atlanta was underdogs three times this year. They lost to New England (23-7) and New Orleans (23-13) but posted a season-revitalizing 34-31 victory in Seattle as +1 pups back in Week 11. The Falcons have a lot of fire power when Ryan is right.
Bookmakers had a good handle on Los Angeles right out of the gate as they were chalk at home versus the Colts and Redskins and then on the road vs San Francisco to open the season. Though not against elite talent that is lofty territory for a team that finished 4-12 last season. Overall, the Rams had a chalk line eleven times. Eight of those chalk lines were at home and LA covered five of them. The Rams ATS is in rare territory as they had a -6 or higher price just three times this year.
Totals: OVER 48.5 (-110) O/U @ Bet635
Showing up in the numbers, the Atlanta offense went south during 2017. After his MVP season, QB Matt Ryan fell off the pace (38 to 20 TD) and the Falcons went from scoring 33.75 PPG down to 22.06 PPG. As a double whammy, to OVER backers, the Atlanta defense stepped up as the Falcons went from allowing 25.38 PGG to 19.69 points per game. That made UNDER a winner in eleven of the Black Bird contests. Feeling the battle tested Falcons will show well - we expect some points.
Never really getting the credit they deserved, Los Angeles saw their total hover in the mid-forties all season as it averaged 46 O/U over 16 games. After posting 224 points last season - the Rams piled up 478 this year and the defense allowed 65 less points. RB Todd Gurley (2093 TY 19 TD) led the Rams outburst on offense (29.88 PPG) and the OVER went 10-5-1. UNDER had an edge at home with a 4-3-1 record. Thinking the good Matt Ryan shows up - we are taking the OVER 48.5 price.
Falcons at Rams Prediction
These teams are playing at different levels this year so even very recent history doesn’t tell a true tale. That said, the Falcons ran roughshod over the Rams during a 42-14 smack down in SoCal during Week 14 last year. Jared Goff will post better numbers in the rematch after he passed for just 253 yards, no TD and two INT while Matt Ryan tossed three TD passes and zero picks in that match. In 2013, the Falcons won 31-24 at home against the then Missouri based St. Louis Rams.
If anything, the Rams will remember last year’s shellacking and that could provide a little extra motivation in this contest. Protecting Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum well, the Rams were 7-1 while the Falcons were 5-3 on the road. The Rams thickest chalk line was (-7) during a 32-16 Week 13 victory in Arizona. Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are a fearsome foursome. Feeling Atlanta can at least keep this close we are taking the +6 (-110) at Bodog and soaring with the Falcons. These respected bookmakers have Canucks covered from Wild Card Weekend, to the Divisional Round and Conference Finals, then to Super Bowl LII Sunday.
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