Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams parted ways after nine years, but the two will be reunited on Sunday afternoon when the Atlanta Falcons host the Rams at the Georgia Dome.
Jackson joined the Falcons in the offseason, and in his debut last week totaled 77 yards on 11 carries in Atlanta’s 23-17 loss to New Orleans. Down by six and the ball on the New Orleans three, Matt Ryan threw an interception in the end zone and the Falcons dropped their season opener after starting last season 8-0.
Ryan went 25-for-38, passing for 204 yards, two touchdowns and the pick, but was under pressure all game and sacked three times. Receiver Harry Douglas led Atlanta with four catches for 93 yards, and Julio Jones had seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez had three catches for 36 yards and a score that put Atlanta up 10-0 in the first quarter, before the defense coughed up a 13-point second quarter. The Falcons particularly struggled on third down, going 3-for-11
The loss also left Atlanta dinged up. Left tackle Same Backer and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux returned to practice on Friday, but are both questionable with knee injuries. Same goes for linebacker Sean Witherspoon and corner Asante Samuel.
St. Louis had a far better start to its season, with a 14-point fourth quarter comeback over the Arizona Cardinals in Week One. Quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jared Cook connected for two touchdowns, and defensive end Robert Quinn totaled three of the Rams four sacks on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.
Quinn was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance, and St. Louis looked like the same frontline that led the NFC with 52 sacks a year ago.
However that front may miss defensive end Chris Long, who didn’t practice on Friday. The Rams will also miss corner Quinton Parker and safety Darian Stewart, both of whom are unlikely to play with thigh injuries.
The game begins at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by FOX or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: Atlanta is favored by 7 points.
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Prediction: St. Louis 24, Atlanta 20