Rams vs. Falcons: 3 to Watch Behind Enemy Lines

As the Los Angeles Rams prepare to host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 of the 2022 season, Ram Digest highlights three ‘Dirty Birds’ on whom Rams fans might want to keep watch.

To put it mildly, the Los Angeles Rams’ 2022 season-opener did not exactly go according to plan.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen passed for 297 yards while accounting for four touchdowns, while his Rams’ counterpart Matthew Stafford was sacked seven times. All in all, the Bills walked away with a 31-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions last Thursday night in Inglewood.

While soul-searching will make the Rams stronger, they are not about to engage in finger-pointing. Whether it be possible malaise from a dreaded ‘Super Bowl’ hangover or the magnitude of the moment, Los Angeles is hoping to get back on track in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Like the Rams, Atlanta enters this contest at 0-1. New Orleans Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz connected on a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds, capping a 16-point fourth-quarter comeback and giving the Saints a 27-26 victory over the Falcons.

Though the Rams hold the edge on the balance sheet, it should be noted that games are played on the gridiron, not on paper. Atlanta has notable talent on both sides of the ball, which could prove to be problematic for the Rams on Sunday.

In that vein, here is a look at a three-pack of Falcons on which the Rams should keep a close eye in Week 2.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB

Patterson was an offensive bright spot for the Falcons in 2021, in an otherwise dismal year. That trend looks to be continuing into 2022. While previously best-known for his prowess as a wide receiver and return specialist, the 31-year-old found himself taking on a prominent role at running back. In Week 1’s loss to the Saints, Patterson once again saw the majority of snaps at the position, logging 120 rushing yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. In addition to his primary task as a rusher, the Rams’ defense must also account for his prowess, both as a pass-catcher, both in the backfield, as well as lined up out wide.

A.J. Terrell, CB

With the possible exception of veteran defensive end Grady Jarrett, Terrell is the Falcons’ best defensive weapon. During his breakout campaign in 2021, he ranked second among all qualifying corners in yards allowed (200), first in yards per reception (6.9), and first in yards after catch allowed (93). Additionally, Terrell finished 5th in the NFL in pass breakups with 13. Even with the addition of Casey Hayward via free agency, Terrell will continue to be the Falcons’ primary force on the perimeter, as well as maintaining his place among the elite corners in the league. If Stafford hopes to reinvigorate the Rams’ passing attack on Sunday, he will need to account for Terrell’s presence on the perimeter at all times.

Kyle Pitts, TE

In the wake of wideout Calvin Ridley’s exit from the 2021 season, Pitts became the Falcons’ primary offensive weapon. The rookie truly was Atlanta’s most productive receiver [compiling 1026 yards] and second-most productive offensive player in total yardage behind Patterson [1166 yards]. Pitts was also a potent deep threat pass catcher, averaging 15.1 yards per reception. For all of his success, however, Pitts struggled to be productive in the red zone. He was targeted infrequently and caught only one touchdown. He routinely faced double [and at times, triple] coverage in the end zone. During OTAs, Pitts worked closely with new quarterback Marcus Mariota on ways to connect on scoring drives. If Mariota needs a sure-fire gain against a multi-faceted Rams defense, Pitts may provide him with the best possible solution. The Florida product was targeted only seven times, earning two catches for 19 yards against the Saints last Sunday. Atlanta is undoubtedly hoping to increase those numbers this week.

The Rams will host the Falcons in Week 2 on Sunday, Sept. 18 at SoFi Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT. 

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