It's not exactly a state secret that the St. Louis Rams offense has struggled to put up points this year. In fact, Sam Bradford and Co. have scored more than 20 points just once, in a lopsided win over the Washington Redskins in week 3.
Points were hard to come by last year as well, and the team's average of less than 11 points per game is burned into the collective memory of fans, still haunting us with every three-and-out.
Prior to the 30 points scored against Washington this season, the last time the Rams scored more than 20 was on Dec. 28, 2008...against the Atlanta Falcons. That was the last game of Matt Ryan's rookie season; he completed 10 of 21 passes for 160 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT.
Obviously, it's a much different Falcons team this time around. But that was still a strong team, finishing 11-5 that year.
What's changed since then?
Fortunately, the Rams run defense is much improved from the 2008 version. Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood combined for 264 rushing yards and 3 TDs. This year, Turner is splitting time with Jason Snelling, and they've amassed more than 1,000 yards and 7 TDs, leading ATL's TK rushing attack.
Ryan still has Roddy White as his top receiving target. Back in that 2008 game, White was limited to just 3 catches for 48 yards and 1 TD. Recall that was the season that got Ron Bartell a nice new free agent deal with the Rams. Bartell will once again be seeing lots and lots of Roddy White.
This year, just like 2008, the Rams have the 30th ranked offense in terms of total points; however, back then they were averaging 14.5 PPG, a FG less than the current PPG average of 17.8.
Both versions of the ATL offense were just about equally prolific. Ryan's 2008 Falcons averaged 24.4 PPG while today's bunch averages 24.7 PPG. On defense, the 2010 Falcons are allowing an average of 19.4 PPG, while their 2008 counterpart averaged 20.3 PPG. Spooky, no?
The biggest difference? The Rams defense. That miserable 2008 bunch allowed an average of 29.1 PPG, second worst in the league. This year's defense is allowing an average of 18.2 PPG.
If there's one thing I'd like to see repeated from that 2008 matchup: Steven Jackson's performance. He rushed for 161 yards and 2 TDs on 30 carries. ATL's defense is allowing 98.1 rushing YPG. Rashard Mendenhall and Tim Hightower are the only opposing backs to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons this year.