The Falcons are set to face the Titans this Sunday in Nashville, and Will Levis is expected to make his NFL debut after Ryan Tannehill was officially ruled out.
Ryan Nielsen and Atlanta’s defense has to be chomping at the bit to get after Levis and the Titans anemic offense. The matchup favors the Falcons heavily. The new-look Dirty Birds defense ranks 8th in pressure rate (25.3%), 3rd in third down conversion rate, allowing first downs on just 33.7% of attempts, and 5th in the league in red zone touchdown rate, allowing six points on just 38.9% of trips inside the 20-yard line.
Moreover, the Titans want to feed Derrick Henry to take as much off Will Levis’ plate as possible. Well, Atlanta ranks 7th in yards per rush (3.7) and 8th in yards per game (95.3). If they can force Levis into third and distance situations, the Falcons’ pass rush should be able to get home or at least force the rookie into making mistakes.
ESPN’s Matt Bowen believes Jessie Bates will be the one to welcome Will Levis to the NFL, predicting the Falcons safety will record his fourth interception on Sunday.
With Titans quarterback Will Levis potentially making his first pro start, I would anticipate a Falcons game plan that consistently changes the picture post-snap for the rookie quarterback (or Malik Willis, who has just three career starts himself). Bates has the ball skills and range to lie in the weeds against the Titans and create turnovers. This season, Bates has three interceptions and four pass breakups, and he’s always around the ball.
Levis was knocked coming out of Kentucky for his carelessness with the football, and some of that can be attributed to his poor supporting cast, but he was still reckless with the Wildcats. That isn’t going to change all of a sudden.
Rookies haven’t fared too well against this Falcons defense. Jessie Bates III almost caught C.J. Stroud’s first career interception, but the Texans quarterback was mostly ineffective. Bryce Young looked decent for the first half but fell apart in the second, throwing two interceptions to Bates.
Levis was a second-round pick for a reason. The first and second overall picks struggled against Nielsen’s defense. What do you think happens to Will Levis?
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire