Aaron Donald vs Jake Matthews
It’s common to say that the battles in the trenches aren’t sexy. Whoever says that clearly hasn’t seen Donald play. He’s lightning quick and is seemingly always in the opposing QBs face.
Having a LT of Matthew’s quality helps protect your QB, but it’s never enough with Donald. He can beat double teams, chip blocks, and even chase down QBs on bootleg - all while being undersized for his position.
Watching Matthews and Donald square off all day is going to be FUN. And the best part for Rams fans is that Donald is likely to win this matchup.
Nickell Robey-Coleman vs Mohamed Sanu
This was always going to be a key matchup, but injuries in the Rams secondary has only made it more critical. Nickell Robey-Coleman has played well in place of the injured Kayvon Webster, but he’s facing a stiff test in Sanu today.
NRC is giving up 6 inches and 30 pounds to Sanu. That’s not a small difference. You better believe that the Falcons will try to take advantage of that. Sanu is a fine #2 WR, but I think that NRC is up to the task.
Youth vs Experience
This one is simple. The Falcons went the Super Bowl last year. The Rams only have six players on the roster with playoff experience. Dan Quinn has been coaching in some capacity since 1994, when Sean McVay was eight years old. The Falcons are one of the ‘older’ teams in the NFL with an average age of 26.4 after roster cuts prior to the season. The Rams are the second youngest - their first time not being the youngest since prior to the Jeff Fisher regime.
I’m not sure how much it will factor into the final score, but the Rams - for their part - aren’t putting any stock into it. They’re citing their tough competition in 2017 and the playoff-like atmosphere of the games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints.
It’s win or go home time, and I don’t think the Rams will pucker. We’ll see for certain this evening.