Atlanta Falcons: 3 Key players to beating Rams in Wild Card Round

Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur sees similarities to his former team, the Falcons

Featuring a young team on the rise along with a trio of NFC South squads, there are plenty of intriguing storylines heading into the first round of the playoffs. Here's what you should watch for in Saturday's Wild Card matchup.

Linebacker Mark Barron and kick returner Pharoh Cooper are active for the Los Angeles Rams' wild-card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.

"He's made good decisions, he's taking care of the ball, so I think it's a great opportunity for him to play in an atmosphere like that that he certainly has earned with his teammates", McVay said. Jared Goff had a nice 25-yard pass to Robert Woods but the Rams' drive fizzled on an incompletion by Goff and a drop by Todd Gurley. Gurley accounted for more than 60 per cent of L.A.'s yardage in those games and 52 per cent of its points.

If there's one "knock" on these Rams, though, it's inexperience.

That said, take a look at three Falcons players who will make the biggest difference in their battle Saturday night vs the Rams. According to the experiment posed by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935, the Falcons and the Rams will both win simultaneously.

Can Falcons bottle up Gurley?

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is in the playoffs for the sixth time in his 10-year career, but hasn't had the consistent postseason success to match his career stats. Maybe this is the year that finally happens for Atlanta?

But the contrast from last year's team isn't all bad. The defense is better than a year ago, moving into the top 10 in scoring and total yards for the first time at the end of the regular season in 1998 - when the Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles was trailing 26-13 and had one more chance to pull within a touchdown of the Falcons. Gurley led the National Football League with 2,093 yards from scrimmage, which is more than Coleman and Freeman combined. The Rams had a first-and-goal from the Falcons' 8-yard line. And the best way to slow down that pressure is to establish a ground game. Anyways, what's more fun than going to see a game where your team wins?

Where Cam Newton goes, so do the Panthers. Average NFL stadium capcity around the league is around 70K.

"You may have that little pit in your stomach at the beginning of the game, but it's no different than any other game for me, honestly".

After trading top target Kelvin Benjamin and suffering a rash of offensive injuries (including leading receiver Devin Funchess), the pressure has fallen nearly entirely on Newton to get the job done himself.

The Panthers will need the 2015 Most Valuable Player to put in an MVP-type performance to overcome the division-rival Saints on Sunday.

The Falcons are also 13-6 against the spread in their last 19 conference games but have failed to cover the number in seven of their last nine playoff games.

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