LOS ANGELES — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons visited the Coliseum late last season on their path to the Super Bowl, and easily racked up a blowout victory over the woebegone Los Angeles Rams.

When they return Saturday for their NFC wild-card playoff opener, they might hardly recognize their opponents.

That 42-14 loss to the Falcons was a catalyst in the Rams’ transformation from laughingstocks into NFC West champions, because Coach Jeff Fisher was fired the next day. One month later, Sean McVay was hired to lead the most incredible one-year turnaround in recent NFL history.

“People are excited and that was our goal when we came back here,” McVay said. “We wanted to be able to provide a good football product that our fans can be proud of, and they want to come out and support.”

Led by the 31-year-old McVay, who grew up near Atlanta, and a roster of playmakers including Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, the Rams (11-5) are in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. The NFC’s third seed drew a tough matchup with Ryan and the Falcons (10-6), who appear capable of another conference run.

But the Rams expect to feed off the excitement of a city hosting its first playoff game since the LA Raiders’ last postseason trip 24 years ago.

“It’s definitely a cool thing,” Goff said. “After football has been gone from here for so long, and we come back in Year 2 and are able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum, that’s very cool.”

Goff, the second-year pro coming off a transformative 3,804-yard season, is eager to face off with Ryan, who is in the playoffs for the sixth time in 10 years. Both teams have a wealth of offensive playmakers, from Rams MVP candidate Gurley to star Falcons receiver Julio Jones.

The Falcons are back after that memorable Super Bowl collapse against New England. That loss could have broken weaker teams, but Coach Dan Quinn kept this bunch together, and now they’re the only group in the six-team NFC field that also made the playoffs last year.

“I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team,” Quinn said. “When you’ve been through some of the fire together and you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood, we’re certainly improved.”

Although both defenses are statistically solid, this game could turn into a shootout. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring last season, but the Rams took over the top spot this year in McVay’s worst-to-first revitalization of the offense.

Ryan and Jones have the skills to pick at the Rams’ secondary if Donald can’t be disruptive, and Goff and the versatile Gurley are eager to make their first mark on postseason football.

Just six Rams have been in postseason games – including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who went 0-6 in Cincinnati.