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The Titans' 1-4 start is beginning to remind me a lot of the 2014 season. Last week was a total debacle and suddenly the season seems lost. Things aren't going to get any easier this week as the 5-1 Falcons come to town. There are two key mismatches that the Falcons will be looking to expose on Sunday.
The Titans rank second in the NFL with just 204 yards surrendered to receivers. That's hard to believe on the surface, but not when you examine further. The defense has face the Buccaneers, Browns, Colts, Bills and Dolphins -- teams that haven't exactly been lighting up scoreboards this year. But that's about to change.
Tennessee is set to face a truly potent offense on Sunday, spearheaded by Julio Jones. He's the best receiver in the NFL for my money and the Titans don't have anyone on the roster that can slow him down. If you'll think back to the preseason, Julio put up a 4-61-1 stat line in one drive against the Titans' defense. The Falcons force-fed him the ball and he capitalized. Julio has had ten days to get past his lingering hamstring issue, so he should be a full go this weekend. That's bad news for the Titans.
It gets worse too. Perrish Cox has yet to practice this week, making it likely that Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh will see a lot of action in his place. Matt Ryan should be able to exploit this mismatch early and often.
Perhaps even more scary is the idea of Devonta Freeman running through the Titans' front seven. Tennessee ranks 28th against the run and gets one of the biggest breakout runners in the NFL this season. Freeman has exploded onto the scene, already amassing nine touchdowns and over 500 yards on the ground.
The Falcons love getting Freeman involved in the passing game too. He's already surpassed his reception totals from 2014 in just six games. Freeman ranks second on the team in both receptions and yardage so far this season. It's clear that Kyle Shanahan and Matt Ryan trust him with the ball.
When you think back to last weekend and remember what Lamar Miller did to this Titans' defense, you have to be concerned with what the Falcons are going to do. Maybe it was as simple as coming out flat. Maybe it was as simple as the Dolphins being fired up and ready to play for their new coach, but last week was brutal for the front seven. It was by far their worst performance as a unit after playing well in the weeks previous.
Whatever it was last week, I'm afraid that it's going to get worse before it gets better. The Falcons have mismatches all over the field to exploit. I hope I'm wrong on this one, but unfortunately it looks like the Titans won't be able to keep up on Sunday.