The Atlanta Falcons are in danger of starting the 2013 NFL season with an 0-2 record, as the visiting St. Louis Rams will give them all they can handle this Sunday.
Hosting the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, Atlanta blew a 10-point lead in the first half, took the lead back in the third quarter and then coughed it up again to lose the game.
For reasons that escape logic, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter called just 11 running plays for Steven Jackson, who gained 77 yards. When you've got the lead and your running back is crushing it, you ride that horse until he's too tired to run.
C'est la vie. Some things will never change.
The Rams won a thriller last week against NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals, 27-24. St. Louis owned the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points to steal the victory. Free-agent tight end Jared Cook had a monster game in his debut, catching seven passes for 141 yards and two interceptions.
Here's a look at all the pertinent information you need to know regarding this upcoming Rams-Falcons clash.
When: Sunday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 46.5 pts.
- Spread: Atlanta (-6)
Rams Injury Report (via NFL.com)
Out: CB Quinton Palmer (thigh)
Questionable: DE Chris Long (hip)
Probable: TE Corey Harkey (knee), RB Daryl Richardson (foot)
Falcons Injury Report (via NFL.com)
Probable: DT Peria Jerry (knee), S Thomas DeCloud (knee), DE Cliff Matthews (neck)
Can Atlanta's Defense Shut Down Jared Cook?
Many wondered if Rams general manager Les Snead was taking a big risk signing tight end Jared Cook to a five-year, $35.1 million contract. Cook's speed and athleticism have never been in question, but his production didn't match his potential during his tenure with the Tennessee Titans.
After Week 1, it looks like Snead and the Rams got a bargain deal, as Cook sparked the offense and could have had three touchdowns in his debut if not for a brilliant defensive play by Tyrann Mathieu early in the game.
Will the Falcons be able to shut down Jared Cook?
Cook isn't the only receiving threat for the Rams, but he is the team's most dangerous weapon to this point. Though not quite as fast, this young man has comparable athleticism to Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers.
Atlanta's defense couldn't stop Davis last year in the playoffs, as he caught five passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Graham also caught a touchdown against the Falcons this past weekend.
The Falcons must find a way to keep Cook from owing the middle of the field, because Bradford is going to be looking for his big tight end early and often on Sunday.
Matt Ryan was sacked three times last week, and he's in danger of being overrun in Week 2.
Robert Quinn logged three sacks and two forced fumbles last week against the Arizona Cardinals. He and Chris Long lead a dynamic front four that registered a league-high 52 sacks last year.
Atlanta's offensive line will be in deep trouble on Sunday if Koetter doesn't establish Jackson as a consistent threat on the ground.
Who you got?
Bradford's quick-hitting offense could also present problems for the Falcons. The team's secondary is shaky—at best—right now, and the Rams feature a few dynamic playmakers in Cook, Tavon Austin and Chris Givens.
Though the Falcons are favored, the Rams will win.
Rams win 30-24
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