Well, the last time I said, "The Falcons have a chance to go two games over .500 for the first time since 2017", they ended up losing hideously. So, what do I say now? Atlanta has the chance to go two games over .500 for the first time this season, yeah that'll work. Anyway, Atlanta got a little help from the Buffalo Bills on Thursday as they defeated the Buccaneers 24-18. Atlanta's lead in the NFC South has now gone to a game and a half. Atlanta will be able to do damage in the NFC South if they can pull out a win on Sunday.
With any NFL matchup, there's always the chance for a bittersweet reunion, and there's a pretty big reunion coming in the form of Falcons head coach Arthur Smith matching up against the Tennessee Titans. Smith spent a decade with Tennesse and filled positions of defensive assistant coach, offensive assistant coach, quality control coach, and tight ends coach, ending his Titans tenure as the offensive coordinator for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Mike Vrabel and Arthur Smith became friends during the Smith time with the Titans, and they might lead to a vest swap...with conditions.
Getting a little more in-depth on Mike Vrables Titans, who currently sit at 2-4 on the season and are last in the AFC South. The offense is where the struggles point to. Veteran Ryan Tannehill (who has been ruled OUT for Sunday) has thrown for two touchdowns and six interceptions, currently tied for third-most in the league. Derrick Henery is starting to regress but is still the brightest spot of the offense, as he has run for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. 'King' Henery is also one of the bigger names to be thrown around the trade rumors mill, so it will be interesting to see if the Titans limit Henry's carries to prevent any injury. To finish on the offense that ranks 25th in points and 28th in yards, they will also roll out rookie Will Levis to start against the Falcons. Malik Willis is also reported to make some appearances. As we don't know the full extent of how much we'll see either of the two, it's still a great opportunity for the Falcons' defense to give Levis a warm NFL welcome.
Date: Sunday, October 29
Start Time: 1:00 EST
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Stadium: Nissan Stadium
TV Info: CBS (Beth Mowins, James Lofton, and Jay Feely on the call)
Key Players- Offense
Bijan Robinson- Falcons RB
Despite never showing up on the injury report all week, Robinson only saw seven (7) snaps last week in Tampa Bay. The Falcons rookie saw a full week of practice and should be good for Sunday. Robinson has been everything the Falcons have wanted: electric out of the backfield and can play in the receiver position. Now, Bijan has yet to record his first rushing touchdown (two receiving touchdowns), and we may have to wait a little longer because I think we'll see Bijan play in the slot quite a bit. Tenessee is ranked 14th in rushing yards given up and 22nd in passing yards given up. So, another opportunity for Desmond Ridder to get the NFL on his side as well.
Will Levis and Malik Willis- Titans QB's
Obviously, could've gone with Derrick Henry or even DeAndre Hopkins, but the biggest story is the two young quarterbacks that'll see the field for the Titans. Not much to say about Levis as he has yet to appear in an NFL game, but Malik Willis has appeared in 10 through his sophomore season, 3 of them being starts. I think we'll see Henry get a decent amount of carries, maybe north of 15. I'm really excited to see what the defense can do against a struggling offense with inexperienced QBs. Here's what DC Ryan Nielson had to say about the QBs.
Key Players- Defense
Nate Landman- Falcons LB
Landman has been a huge piece of the Falcons' defense ever since Troy Anderson went to the IR. Landman had his best performance last week as he recorded 12 total tackles and forced a fumble (one of the plays down below) at a high-leverage point in the game. Landan shows good speed and pursuit skills at the linebacker position and has been a reason the Falcons' defense has only allowed one rushing touchdown.
Denico Autry- Titans EDGE
Defensively, something the Titans have been known for under Vrabel is ranked 11th in points and 17th in yards during this season. One thing that Atlanta will have to do is keep the pressure off of Ridder, which includes finding a way to keep Denico Autry out of the backfield. Autry already has half of the sacks (4) he had last year while appearing in half as many games (6). Again, blocking number 96 will be a key for the Falcons offense.
Points Spread: ATL -2.5 (-122) | TEN +2.5 (-100)
Moneyline: ATL (-145) | TEN (+126)
Over/Under: O 35.5 (-105) | U 35.5 (-115)
Lines via FanDuel as of Friday, October 27
I am extremely confused about what to do with my prediction here. The Falcons are the favorites in this one, but they seem to do the opposite of wherever I lean. Am I superstitious at all? Absolutely not, certainly not me, why would you even ask?
To continue, the Falcons have been able to do enough in these past few wins, thanks to the leg of Younghoe Koo. What has hurt the Falcons the most on offense is turnovers. The Falcons offense has turned the ball over six times in the last two games, and it comes back to Ridder. Ridder has shown improvement every week (even when he threw three interceptions), and you can see that in the throws he makes and how he uses his legs to extend plays. I mean heck, the Falcons have been able to drive down the field but just haven't been able to finish out their drives.
This Titans team is still tough. They arguably have the best RB over the last few years. DeAndre Hopkins can still do DeAndre Hopkins things, even if he isn't the guy he was in Houston. We'll see a lot of similar styles of playing on Sunday. Both teams will try to run the ball down the other team's throat, while defensive fronts will be strong and physical. For Atlanta to win this game, it will come to shutting down Derrick Henry and forcing Levis to win the game. Atlanta will also have to prevent turnovers. They've shown the ability to drive down the field, but yards mean nothing if you can't get points out of them. If Atlanta can do these things, I believe that Atlanta can walk away with a win in Nashville.
Final Score: Atlanta Falcons 17, Tennessee Titans 10
(Tennesee is rocking Oilers colors on Sunday, as they will wear these beauties for the first time in a long time)
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