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The Atlanta Falcons have won more games than any other NFL team through 10 weeks. They improved to 8-2 after a 34-17 win against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams appeared primed for an upset and took an early 7-0 lead after a Sam Bradford touchdown pass in the first quarter and the game was back-and-forth with the Rams holding a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter. Then Atlanta found their footing. They finished the game scoring 18 unanswered points with the final score coming courtesy of a running back Michael Turner 39-yard touchdown run and a Roddy White two-point conversion.
The Rams fall to 4-6 but are still in the hunt for the NFC West crown since the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers all lost this weekend. The Falcons needed to win to stay a game ahead of the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both winners today.
An eight-play, 58-yard drive was capped off with a two-yard TD pass from Matt Ryan to Justin Peelle. The score gave the Falcons the lead, 23-17 in the third quarter. This was Peelle’s first game back after hernia surgery sidelined him for over a month.
The Falcons continue their persistent ways and have answered every challenge the Rams have offered up. They have outgained the Rams by most 100 yards but it’s been the time of possession that has become a Falcon staple. The Falcons win games by controlling the ball and they are doing so again this week, holding it for 12 more minutes than the Rams have had.
Michael Turner is getting the ground game going with 73 yards on 19 carries and he should be a big factor when the Falcons try to close this game out in the fourth quarter. Roddy White has seven catches but for only 68 yards as he works a lot underneath.
After not being able to move the ball with their first possession of the second half, the Atlanta Falcons put the ball back in rookie quarterback Sam Bradford’s hands. That was a mistake. Bradford, who is 13-for-19 with 137 yards, connected with wide receiver Brandon Gibson for his second touchdown pass of the day giving the Rams a 17-16 lead in the third quarter.
The Falcons are leading in every major statistical category but the Rams are outplaying on the field. The secondary continues to be a major problem and one wonders if the run defense is so highly ranked simply because teams choose to pass so often.
The Falcons will try to answer with their second possession of the second half. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is up over 150 passing yards and you have to think he sees a lot of himself when he looks across the sideline at Bradford, especially after his performance today.
During the offseason, there was a lot question marks around the Atlanta Falcons’ kicking game. In 2009, Jason Elam was deemed ineffective and Matt Bryant was barely better. Steven Hauschka was brought in and was expected to challenge Bryant during the preseason. That challenge didn’t last long and Bryant was the last man standing. It turned out to be a good choice. He has been stellar this season and he’s the reason the Falcons lead the Rams 16-10 at the half in their Week 11 matchup.
Bryant’s three-pointer capped an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ate up almost five minutes of game time. The Falcons trailed early on after a Sam Bradford touchdown pass but they’ve persevered and now take a halftime lead into the locker room.
The Falcons have 199 total yards and control the time of possession as has been their modus operandi. The second half should provide another close-fought finish but it’s nice to see the Falcons were not looking ahead to the Green Bay Packers.
A seven-play, 43-yard drive ended with Falcons kicker Matt Bryant connecting on a 29-yard field goal to give the Falcons a second quarter lead over the host St. Louis Rams. There’s been no turnovers in this game yet and the Falcons have gained just under 150 yards of total offense.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford set a rookie record for most passes without an interception. The time of possession is very even and this is the exact type of game the Rams were hoping for. Keep it close into the fourth quarter and take your chances. The Falcons will need to get Michael Turner going in order to seal this game.
Matt Ryan has thrown for 114 yards and is on his way to set a new career-high for passing touchdowns this season. The record is 22 he set in 2008. In other division news, the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both lead their games against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
A 53-yard field goal from kicker Josh Brown capped off a 10-play, 58-yard drive to give the St. Louis Rams a 10-3 lead over the division-leading Atlanta Falcons. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is looking poised out there hitting on seven of 12 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown. Running back Steven Jackson, who earlier in the game surpassed 10,000 scrimmage yards, has rushed for 21 yards on five carries. Michael Hoomanawanui leads all Rams’ receivers with 43 yards on two catches including the 25-yard touchdown that accounts for the Rams’ advantage at this point.
The Falcons are struggling to find their offensive rhythm and the critics will say they are who they thought they were. They can win at home but on the road, they are an average team. That’s why this very well could be a trap game wince they play the Green Bay Packers next week in game that could decide whether or not the Falcons will be home for the playoffs.
And in the midst of writing this update, the Falcons tied the game on a 12-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Brian Finneran. It’s a 10-10 tie in the second quarter.
A 12-play, 56 yard drive that lasted nearly seven minutes ended with a Matt Bryant 42-yard field goal to bring the Atlanta Falcons to within four points of the St. Louis Rams. After a three-and-out on their first possession, the Falcons answered an earlier Rams touchdown with this field goal drive.
Matt Ryan is off to a good start throwing for 60 yards on 5-for-8 passing. Michael Turner has carried five times for 15 yards and Roddy White has grabbed two balls for 30 yards. John Abraham is inactive for this one but Sean Weatherspoon is seeing his first action since Week against the Cleveland Browns.
Trailing early is nothing new for this Falcons team as it seems they don’t really get going until the second quarter of games. It hasn’t hurt them yet since they’ve been able to wear down their less-talented opponents eventually. We’ll find out if they are able to come from behind against this Rams team.
The St. Louis Rams have been up-and-down this season if you only look at their record but if you’ve watched them play in each game you’d see they have a solid team that always plays their opponents close. This was considered a trap game by many since the Atlanta Falcons were coming off a last-second win against the Baltimore Ravens and have the Green Bay Packers next week. They may be right.
The Rams’ Sam Bradford found tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a first quarter, 7-0 lead. The drive lasted only three plays after a Falcons punt. During that drive, Steven Jackson became only the fourth Ram player to go over 10,000 total yards from scrimmage. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson, a former Falcons, had one catch for 24 yards on that drive.
The Falcons have always been resilient coming back from deficits all season long. They’ll get another chance to do so here.
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will see his first action since Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns when he suits up for the St. Louis Rams game. He will send Stephen Nicholas to the bench and pair with fellow linebackers, Curtis Lofton and Mike Peterson in an attempt to stymie Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson.
Defensive End John Abraham will not play in this one. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Lawrence Sidbury. Abraham not playing is a bit of surprise and a huge hit to the defense of the Falcons. He has eight sacks this season and relieves some of the pressure off a secondary that is near the bottom of the league.
The Falcons will need to stay focused on this game and not be peeking ahead to the Green Bay Packers next week. The Packers put away the Minnesota Vikings earlier today and next week’s showdown could be for homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Outside of the injured reserve guys - Jerious Norwood, Kerry Meier and Robbie Agnone - the Atlanta Falcons might have a completely healthy* 53-man roster when they travel to St. Louis for Sunday's Week 11 NFC showdown. LB Curtis Lofton did his usual routine of easing into the practice week before ramping up on Friday. TE Justin Peelle could put on his Falcons' gameday uniform for the first time since Oct. 17. The only question marks are DE John Abraham and LB Sean Weatherspoon, both of whom are listed as questionable for the Rams game.
Weatherspoon practiced fully and I expect him to play, if not start, against the Rams, despite his questionable designation. Abraham, who was limited in practice Friday, is in the midst of a career-resurgence with eight sacks in nine games after posting only 5.5 in 2009. His career has followed a bizarre path of one bad season followed by two good seasons. It's been this way since his rookie year in 2000. Behold the proof:
* No NFL player is ever completely healthy during the season.
The Atlanta Falcons have played the St. Louis Rams more than any other team in the NFL except the New Orleans Saints. As members of the NFC West, the Falcons battled the Rams in Atlanta, Los Angeles and St. Louis a combined 75 times. This game marks their 76th meeting. This has been called a trap game by many but do the experts believe that? Let's find out.
|ESPN Consensus||Falcons||Eight experts pick the Falcons to win on the road while Adam Schefter and the Accuscore computer think the Rams pull the upset.|
|Yahoo Sports Consensus||Falcons||Three of four experts pick the Falcons to beat the Rams with Les Carpenter on the Rams' bandwagon.|
|CBS Sports Consensus||Falcons||Another sweep for the Falcons from the CBS analysts with all five taking the Birds. This is the fourth straight week that's happened.|
|Fanhouse||Falcons||A 19-17 projection gives the Falcons a road win over the Rams, according to Dave Goldberg.|
|What If Sports||Falcons||Projection says the Falcons win 21-16.|
|Sports Illustrated||Falcons||Peter King: Look across the field during warmups, Matt Ryan. You'll see your top-of-the-draft peer Sam Bradford. Interesting that Ryan faces his 2008 first-round alter-ego, Joe Flacco, one week, and then Bradford the next. So many similarities between Ryan and Bradford. Smart, accurate, precocious, understand the important things about leading and playing well early at the next level. Bradford's the kind of ascending player who could pull off a shocker at home.|
|USA Today||Falcons||All eight experts pick the Falcons to beat the Rams and improve to 8-2.|
|Sporting News||Falcons||Six of seven experts pick the Falcons over the Rams with only Todd Wright picking the Rams to get back to .500.|
|Battle Red Blog||Rams||TexansDC: NFC West teams play well at home, as evidenced by their 12-6 combined record (two of those losses are within the division). Aside from their Detroit Debacle, Sam Bradford's team has had their games decided by a touchdown or less. I think St. Louis can make things interesting in the NFC. Rams win 24-20.|
|SBN ATL||Falcons||Josh Massey: It's a trap game, it's a trap game, it's a trap game - ENOUGH OF THAT. Seemingly countless voices are predicting Atlanta is already looking ahead to Green Bay, and bound to fall victim to the dreaded "trap game." First, I don't think this team is familiar enough with success to do that. Second, just look at it on paper: Atlanta has the better players, better coaches, the longer week, and they didn't suffer a brutal 4 p.m. overtime loss last week. And the St. Louis dome ain't exactly gonna throw 'em. PICK: Atlanta (yeah, I've picked Atlanta every week, but it's paying off)|
Another week with a strong consensus for the Falcons. This time it's 34 of 39 experts (87 percent) picking Atlanta to win eight of their first 10 games. The Falcons have been on a tremendous roll with big game after big game so if they were to have a letdown, this would be the place it happens. I would not be surprised if they stumbled in St. Louis with their eyes on Green Bay but I don't predict it to happen. I think 20-17 and a Falcons win sounds about right.
He practiced. I know, it was only in a limited capactity, but he practiced. There's a chance the rookie linebacker from Missouri, Sean Weatherspoon, could bring his boisterous personality and dynamic playmaking skills to St. Louis. It's been since Oct. 10 that Weatherspoon has been able to practice and he hasn't been able to help the Falcons since Week 5. Stephen Nicholas has done a typical great job in his place, but this defense "feels" different when No. 56 is back there. And now, with the news today that he practiced, he could be.
John Abraham returned to practice and is expected to play against the Rams and their franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford. He was limited in practice but his post-workout routine should have him ready for Friday's session.
Curtis Lofton followed his typical schedule of resting Wednesdays before ramping the rest of the week. He'll have a busy day corralling Steven Jackson. Justin Peelle had surgery for a sports hernia a month ago but he's already back at practice and participating to the fullest allowable extent. His return sends Michael Palmer to third-string.
When the Atlanta Falcons play the St. Louis Rams Sunday, it will be the first road game they've played in over a month. Three home games with a bye week mixed means the Falcons haven't left Georgia since Oct. 17 when they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles. Over the Falcons next five games, four of them are on the road. This is a brutal stretch that will either reinforce the Falcons as a legitimate contender or expose them as a team that can only win home games. Their quest for the former starts this week. Now on to to the fantasy-relevant information.
Danny Amendola: The Falcons' secondary continues to be less-than-dominant and opposing wide receivers have enjoyed great fantasy days against Atlanta. The Falcons have allowed 10 touchdowns to wide receivers in the last four games and the Rams' best receiver, Danny Amendola, has scored in three straight games. That's some easy two-plus-two math. If your league gets points for return yardage, Amendola's value gets a boost as well.
Matt Bryant: Outside of Michael Turner and Roddy White - whom you're starting regardless - the Falcons have a tough fantasy matchup this week. The best recommendation I can offer is to play Matt Bryant. He's fifth in the NFL in scoring and the Rams are near the bottom of the league in stopping opposing kickers. The Falcons offense can move the football so when they aren't scoring touchdowns, Bryant will cash in with field goals.
Tony Gonzalez: As mentioned before, you're not benching Turner or White even if their playing the '85 Bears. The Rams' pass defense is solid and has been particularly tough against opossing tight ends. If you have comparable options this week, Tony Gonzalez and even Matt Ryan may find a spot on your bench in this one. I will not question your judgment though if you stick with Ryan after his incredible performance against the Rams.
Josh Brown: The Falcons are seventh against the run, but if you own Steven Jackson, you're playing him anyway. The only real sit recommendation here is Josh Brown. The Falcons are best against opposing kickers and the Rams are second-worst in the NFL in points scored.
Welcome to the pre-game, quick hit, stats-apalooza. This is a broad, statistical overview of the current Atlanta Falcons' opponent. This week, it's the St. Louis Rams. The Falcons will travel North-West 469 miles to play the Rams at "The Ed" - that's the Edward Jones Dome at America's Center for the more formal - for their first road game in over a month. Let's learn a little bit about our hosts.
The city of St. Louis is known by many nicknames; Gateway City, STL, Gateway to the West, Mound City and The Lou. Their mascot is "a ram like figure" named Rampage. I like Freddie Falcon, but Rampage is way better mascot nickname. I've never heard St. Louis referred to as STL but I like the synergy of ATL vs. STL. Finally, the Rams have 10 players over 30 years old while the Falcons have 12 such players.
FANTASY ALERT: Both the Falcons and Rams have stingy run defenses with the Rams ranked sixth in the league allowing only 97.8 yards per game. The Falcons are right behind at seventh allowing only 98.1 per game. This means you should temper your expectations for Steven Jackson and Michael Turner, despite his 208 yards rushing in 2008. This game will be won by the quarterbacks.
Falcons Vs. Rams
The Falcons bring their plus-nine turnover margin (second-best in the NFL) into the Week 11 meeting with the Rams. This will be the 76th time the Falcons have played the Rams making this the second-most played rivalry behind only the New Orleans Saints (82 games). The Falcons trail the all-time series 26-47-2 which includes a 47-17 playoff win for the Falcons after the 2004 season. This is the ninth time in 10 games the Falcons are playing a team that leads the lifetime series against them but Atlanta has won three of four since 2004.
The Falcons record against the Rams (by decade):
Average Score in all 75 meetings:
Most Points Scored:
Falcons 47, Jan. 15, 2002
Highlight: Atlanta rolled up a team-record 327 yards rushing and three touchdowns on their way to the NFC championship game. Warrick Dunn had 142 yards, Michael Vick scrambled for 119 and TJ Duckett added 66 more in the blowout win.
Rams 59, Nov. 10, 1996 and Dec. 4 , 1976
Fewest Points Scored:
The Falcons have been shutout seven times by the Rams.
Rams 0, Nov. 14, 1993
The Rams' Steve Spagnuolo is 5-20 as a head coach but he is 6-1 against the Falcons as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants staff from 1999-2008. He is 0-1 in Week 11 games all-time.
Best Individual Performances Against the Rams:
The Wednesday injury report for the Week 11 Atlanta Falcons-St. Louis Rams game is out in the wild and there's not a lot of surprises. We have two defensive players not practicing, a linebacker practicing a little and tight end returning to action. On the Rams side, it's a collection of limited participants ranging from fullbacks to punters. On to the report.
First, the bad news: John Abraham, who has more sacks as a 32-year-old than any other Falcons player in history, missed practice with a groin injury. I anticipate him being out there against the Rams but it's worth noting that he has yet to record a sack in back-to-back games this season. He had two sacks against the Ravens last week.
Sean Weatherspoon is suffering from a similar mystery ailment that plagued Michael Jenkins earlier this season. In Jenkins' case, he was scheduled to miss four-to-six weeks but didn't play for almost 10. Weatherspoon hasn't played since Week 5 but this was the game he was sure to play. It's doubtful we'll hear any concrete information from the Falcons directly but it's obvious there's more to this injury than is being released.
Now, the good news: Curtis Lofton was limited in practice. Why is this good? He's always limited on Wednesday and sometimes on Thursday but he always practices on Friday and always plays on Sunday. He'll be out there adding to his team-leading tackle total.
The full report from the official site:
DE John Abraham (groin) DNP
TE Justin Peelle (groin) LP
LB Curtis Lofton (knee) LP
LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee) DNP
The Rams' official report:
WR Danario Alexander (knee) LP
S James Butler (ankle) LP
P Donnie Jones (calf) LP
FB Brit Miller (head) LP
T Rodger Saffold (ankle) LP
It's sad that the Atlanta Falcons game against the St. Louis Rams, a team a field goal away from leading the NFC West, has to be considered a trap game. But that's the NFC West for you, and that's what happens when you're coming down from a last-minute win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The NFC West is the only division in the NFL without two winning teams, one of only two without a six-game winner, and one of only three with multiple teams with six or more losses. Every other division has two or three teams with positive point differentials -- the West has none.
Still, the Rams are doing their part to liven the place up. 4-1 at home, St. Louis has already quadrupled its 2009 win total, though they're already starting to freak out about the rest of their schedule. Led by the league's sixth-stingiest scoring defense, they've given up more than 23 points only once.
On the other side of the ball, Rookie QB Sam Bradford is well on his way to becoming the most effective passer they've had since Marshall Faulk left Marc Bulger. In fact, Rams fans have called him "the next Peyton Manning," which, whoa. The knock on their offense is they don't have any receivers.
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