Things are looking pretty bleak right about now. Unfortunately, the Titans are playing their toughest opponent yet in the Atlanta Falcons. Reasons for why they will complete one of the longest home stands in franchise history without a single win below:
Reasons For Confidence: n/a
Reasons For Concern: Mariota's status, Falcons' Offensive Scheme, Run Defense, Julio Jones, Long week, Bounce-back factor, Ken Whisenhunt
Marcus Mariota's status: As most should know by now, Marcus Mariota has an MCL sprain. It is unclear whether or not he will play on Sunday. When he played after he was hit in the knee on Sunday against Miami, it was very obvious that he was nowhere near 100%. His mobility was non-existent, which is a recipe for disaster behind the Titans' atrocious offensive line, and he could not step into his throws. If he does not play, then it will be Zach Mettenberger, who is much slower with his reads, and is a sitting duck in the pocket. Again, considering the Titans' offensive line play, this could be a recipe for disaster.
Falcons' Offensive Scheme: The Titans defense could struggle mightily against Falcons' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme. The inside linebackers are a weakness regardless of Avery Williamson's health, but without him, or with a banged up version of him, they could struggle mightily filling gaps against this zone blocking scheme. This will set up play action, another staple of Shanahan's scheme, and I cannot remember the last Titans defense that didn't struggle with biting hard on play action fakes. This year is no different.
Run Defense: Devonta Freeman, the leader in rushing touchdowns in the league, and the running back Ruston Webster passed on in order to draft the illustrious Bishop Sankey, could be in line for a big day. The Titans helped completely revitalize Miami's running offense last week, making Lamar Miller look like an all-pro. I would not be surprised to see the Falcons follow suit and come out running until the defense proves they can stop the run, which they haven't been able to do all season. They are ranked 21st in run defense.
Julio Jones: Did I mention that the Falcons have arguably the best wide receiver in the National Football League? Julio Jones has been borderline dominant this season. The Falcons do a spectacular job of moving him around all game, creating favorable matchups, and getting him open in space. There will be times on Sunday where we see him matched up against Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi-Wreh Wilson. I'd expect some shots deep off play action.
Long Week: The Falcons are coming off of a "mini bye week" after playing last Thursday against the Saints. Coaching against a staff that lost by nearly 30 points to an interim head coach who has never even been a coordinator should be enough of an advantage, but the Falcons have extra time to prepare.
Bounce-back: Atlanta took a tough loss to New Orleans last week. They are going to want to bounce back and get things rolling again. Well-coached teams take care of business and beat the teams that they are supposed to in games like this. Look for an intensity level similar to Miami's last week.
Ken Whisenhunt: The ultimate reason for concern, Ken Whisenhunt is still the head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
Prediction: This is going to be a rough one. The wheels have completely fallen off and things will only get tougher from here. The Titans do not match up with the Falcons well. I am expecting them to get steamrolled. Falcons win, 33-6.