The Falcons (1-5) look to snap their four-game losing streak with a win over the Los Angeles Rams (3-3), a team that’s lost three consecutive games.
The Rams lost a total of three games last year. Let that sink in.
Here are five things to know about the Rams:
The Rams are banged up at key positions
The Rams are experiencing a little bit of what the Falcons had to deal with in 2018 – serious injuries to key starters.
Veteran cornerback Aqib Talib and starting left guard Joe Noteboom suffered injuries recently that will keep them out indefinitely. Talib was placed on injured reserve with a rib injury and Noteboom was ruled out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. Starting safety John Johnson III injured his shoulder and head coach Sean McVay said he will get a second opinion before determining his status moving forward.
Star running back Todd Gurley is also injured and was inactive against the 49ers last Sunday with a thigh injury. His status for Sunday will be monitored throughout the week.
The Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade on Tuesday night sending veteran cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young. A few hours later, the Rams acquired star cornerback Jalen Ramsey in a trade with the Jaguars, sending Jacksonville two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick. Ramsey is expected to play on Sunday against the Falcons, according to reports.
Struggling to get the run game going
A big reason for the Rams’ offensive success over the past two seasons under Sean McVay has been their balanced attack with Gurley running the ball and quarterback Jared Goff under center. McVay has Goff playing at a high level and Gurley’s been one of the most dynamic running backs since he was drafted in 2015 out of the University of Georgia.
The Rams ranked No. 3 in rushing offense in 2018 averaging 139.4. yards per game on the ground. They haven’t seen the same type of success this year so far as they rank No. 22 in the run game this season, averaging 98.3 yards per game.
When Gurley is healthy and the Rams’ run game is clicking, McVay’s offense is tough to stop. Gurley has rushed for 270 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. But right now, the Rams are looking for answers and they’re having to do so without their best offensive weapon.
If Gurley is unable to go again this week against the Falcons, the Rams will lean on Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson again. The duo rushed for 79 yards in the loss to San Francisco.
Falcons must slow Goff, Rams’ aerial attack to win
The Rams have a top-10 passing attack this season and the Falcons will have to account for the way Goff is utilizing his receivers.
Goff has thrown for 1,727 yards and seven touchdowns. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp has been Goff’s go-to target with 42 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Kupp has been targeted 69 times this year, the most of any receiver through six games.
All-Pro Aaron Donald still sets the tone up front
The Rams have the best defensive player in football in Donald. For years, Donald has been a nightmare for offensive coordinators to have to gameplan for. Donald has three sacks on the year after a season where he led the league in sacks with 20.5 in 2018.
Clay Matthews, Jake Matthews’ cousin and veteran linebacker, leads the Rams in sacks with six.
Rams coming to Atlanta with something to prove
The last time the Rams played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium they lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII back in February. They’ve also never lost three consecutive games under McVay as a head coach.
The Falcons will surely be getting the Rams’ best shot on Sunday.