Win the line of scrimmage
The Falcons' offensive line will yet again be tested by a talented defensive front, highlighted by star DT Aaron Donald, one of the league's most talented defensive tackles. Alex Mack and Atlanta's interior line will be tasked with containing the Pro Bowler who leads the league in quarterback hits (25) and is tied for the lead in tackles for loss. The Rams are ranked No. 8 in the league in third down defense, with a 37.6 percent conversion rate.
"It's going to be a real line of scrimmage day," head coach Dan Quinn said. "That's our offensive line in the run game, getting that going, and the pass protection, regarding a really good D-line."
Atlanta's defensive line will face one of the most physical running backs they've seen all year in Todd Gurley. The former University of Georgia standout has rushed for 679 yards this year and four touchdowns. He's also contributing in the Rams' passing game with 32 receptions for 250 yards.
Quinn says that in order to limit Gurley's production it will be imperative to tackle well.
"That's us taking care of [the fact that we know] Gurley is a big, aggressive back…. How do we tackle? The second part of that, affecting the quarterback," Quinn said.
The Falcons will also look to continue their relentless efforts to get to their opponents' quarterback. Sunday's game will be the second time Atlanta has faced a rookie quarterback this season.
Starting field position could be a game-changer
Field position could play a major role on Sunday as Rams punter Johnny Hekker has an NFL-high 40 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Atlanta's defense has a greater chance for success if they can make rookie quarterback Jared Goff go the length of the field, rather than giving him a short field to work with it.
"The starting field position I think in this one is going to be a factor in this game," Quinn said. "That's both cover teams, the speed we play with."
The ball. The ball. The ball.
As always, the ball will be an emphasis. The Falcons are plus-three in the turnover margin on the year and the Rams are minus-six.
"Making sure we can create some turnovers this week to give our offense some opportunities to do it," Quinn said. "They have a good ball-hawking team, they are aggressive and physical. We have to do a good job of [taking care of it]. I've been pleased with the offense in terms of their regard for it, especially when we've been running it."