It was another frustrating loss for the Falcons on the road in what felt like a winnable game against the Colts. The defense did not do enough, and the discipline demonstrated by Dan Quinn’s squad was pitiful. Matt Ryan was nearly perfect in the second half, but by that time, Atlanta had dug themselves into too deep of a hole. They will look to rebound this weekend against a floundering Tennessee Titans offense at home where they are a perfect 1-0 on the year.
Make Marcus Mariotta beat you
This one is simple: take away the Titans running attack, and the Falcons will win the game. Despite what people want to say about last week, the Falcons did a pretty good job keeping Marlon Mack at bay, as the Colts only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Unfortunately, most of those yards came on the final drive, and Indianapolis was able to put the game on ice. Jacoby Brissett led the Colts to a win behind a masterful performance and benefitted from several penalties that extended drives. Marcus Mariotta doesn’t have that capability in him. He’s the definition of a game manager. If the Falcons key in on Derrick Henry; the rest will take care of itself – even without Keanu Neal in their secondary.
The Falcons wide receivers vs. The Titans secondary
This is the matchup to watch. The Falcons have the best trio of wide receivers in the league. The Titans counter with a fantastic trio of corners themselves and a Pro-Bowl safety in Kevin Byard. Atlanta was finally able to get their running game going against the Colts, but I don’t expect them to have the same success versus Tennessee. It is going to be up to these receivers finding space, and of course, Matt Ryan limiting his mistakes. His decision making thus far has been mind-boggling for a player with so much experience. Julio Jones has a touchdown in seven straight games – the longest active streak in the NFL but look for Calvin Ridley to get involved early and often. After only receiving two targets last week, Dirk Koetter spoke on how they have to work on getting him more consistently involved in the offense.
Win the turnover battle
This is a key in every NFL game, but it is especially true in this matchup. At home, the Falcons should be able to take care of business against the Titans – as long as they protect the football. Matt Ryan, who has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the last three seasons at limiting turnovers, has been an interception machine through three games, throwing six of them. He’s on pace for 32 interceptions this season. When did Jameis Winston become the QB of the Falcons?
Anyways, because of that, Atlanta is -4 in the turnover margin. The Titans have been one of the best teams at protecting the football, turning it over only once all season (fumble). Mariotta isn’t a playmaker, but he will take care of the ball. The Falcons need to make sure they do the same, and they will be just fine.
Honorable mention: Dan Quinn’s failures against AFC teams
I talked about this last week, and the Falcons lost again to an AFC opponent. They are now 1-8 in their previous nine AFC matches and have lost their last five in a row. That can’t happen this week in what is a critical game against the Titans.