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Falcons face Rams in NFC Wild Card game

07 January 2018

The NFC established itself as the superior conference early on in the 2017 National Football League campaign, and the result is a pair of juicy wild-card matchups over the next two days. The Rams are the up-and-coming group and while the Falcons are not falling down to reality as the players are aging, they went backwards compared to past year.

That was about as close as the Rams ever would seem to threaten.

And at the head of L.A.'s scoring monster are a pair of 23-year-olds who have emerged as two of the best at their positions.

While McVay transformed the offense, Phillips got the most out of a team that allowed 20.6 points per game this season, down from 24.6 past year.

The comparisons are well known, with many saying Goff is the next Matt Ryan.

If there's one "knock" on these Rams, though, it's inexperience. But the question of which team shows up for the playoffs lingers.

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From the season-opening escape in Chicago to the must-win finale in front of their home fans, the Atlanta Falcons have spent the entire season living on the edge, which might actually be to their advantage as the 2017 NFL Playoffs begin.

"This game was kind of the way our season's been: tough", he said.

Can Falcons bottle up Gurley? It took until the final week of the regular season for the Falcons to qualify.

But the contrast from last year's team isn't all bad. Goff doesn't have as much responsibility in the Rams' offense as Ryan does in the Falcons', but he's been an integral part of their success.

Los Angeles was trailing 26-13 and had one more chance to pull within a touchdown of the Falcons. And the Falcons would have had poor field position for nearly the entire game had it not been for those recoveries. In fact, the Falcons have allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season (Jay Ajayi, Week 6 vs. Miami).

He will need that ground game to get off to a strong start. But what makes them even more unsafe now is the way the defense has played.

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Where Cam Newton goes, so do the Panthers. Philadelphia is 13-3, but lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz with three games left.

Can Sam Ficken get the job done on a big stage?

Sean McVay, the likely NFL Coach of the Year, looks to have solved the riddle that was their quarterback situation, while Gurley has come back from a disappointing season in 2016.

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. "But you only feel nerves, you only feel pressure and all that stuff if you don't prepare", Rams rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp said.

Outside of three long runs, the Falcons limited the Rams' most potent weapon - running back Todd Gurley - for most of the night.

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Falcons face Rams in NFC Wild Card game