After a terrific second half of football against the Indianapolis Colts, the (1-2) Atlanta Falcons will play host to the (1-2) Tennessee Titans. The Titans are coming off a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-7. The Falcons a heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts 24-27.
On the surface this should be an easy win for the Falcons, but not so fast, eight starters were listed on the injury list, however only three did not practice (RB) Ito Smith concussion, (Returner) Kenjon Barner Knee/concussion and (DT) Grady Jarrett toe, obviously the biggest concern is Grady Jarrett. I prefer not to think of this defense without him on the field. Any time your punt returner is out funny things can happen, special teams, aren’t special until they are. It’s not as simple as the ball going over on downs. Something happens when the ball is sailing sky-high while one is looking up and footsteps are all around things get uncoordinated, and the ball has a tendency to end up on the ground.
The Falcons have played with a split personality, but this team is too talented not to get this figured out. If you look beyond the scoreboard, you can see the pieces sliding into place. Devonta Freeman played his best game since the injury running for 88 yards on 16 carries. Undisciplined penalties such as false starts and encroachments are absolute killers. The Falcons will not commit 16 penalties for 128 yards in any other game this season. If professional football players had no coach they should have enough self-discipline to fix that.
We are truly heartbroken for Keanu Neal who is on IR for the second consecutive season. The next man up is Kemal Ishmael at safety. Naturally the Titans would like to exploit the transition but he is not inexperienced. He is in his seventh season with the Falcons, has seen action in 81 games with 20 starts frankly stating it’s his time to shine. The front end needs to support the backend with pressure on the quarterback.
Similar to the Falcons, the Titans are having offensive line woes giving up 9 sacks against the Jaguars. Marcus Mariota has been sacked 17 times most in the NFL, Takk Mckinney and Vic Beasley should feast.
If Jarrett does not play or is limited, the Falcons are going to have their hands full with (RB) Derek Henry. The former Heisman trophy runner is looking for a breakout game expect the Titans to feed him right up the gut.
The strength of the Titans is their top tier defense; they are allowing 17.3 points per game. The Falcons are allowing 25 points per game. This game boils down to which offensive line plays the best and whichever team has the least turnovers. Remember what said about punt returns.
This game is dependent upon which version of the Falcons show up so far they are better second-half team hopefully they won’t dig a hole so deep they can’t come out. The Falcons are favored by 4.5 points.
Key to victory
- No turnovers
- No critical self-inflicted wounds limit penalties