The time for Will Levis is here.
With Ryan Tannehill out this week, it is time to see what Will Levis has got. The rookie has been waiting in the wings for the first seven weeks, patiently waiting behind Malik Willis for his shot. Now, after Willis’ less-than-encouraging performance filling in for Ryan Tannehill, Levis will bring a style of play more akin to what Tim Kelly wants to scheme.
The Titans should not believe this season is over. A win against this Atlanta team, who currently ranks 29th in the league in scoring, would put the Titans one win away from being back at .500 and back in a division that isn’t necessarily out of reach. For our full preview of the game, check out The Hot Read Podcast!
Here are 10 stats that you need to know for Falcons at Titans in this week’s Titans Ten:
1. Vrabel is Dominant After the Bye
Mike Vrabel has helmed the Titans ship for five years. Despite how the Titans seasons may have gone, it’s undeniable that Mike Vrabel prepares his team well to come out of the bye. In his five seasons with the team, Mike Vrabel is a perfect 5-0 off the bye in his Titans head coaching career. Vrabel has his team among some elite company; tied with the Chiefs, Bills, and Steelers for the highest winning percentage in that span. Can Vrabel and his ragtag band of Titans find a way to win? History would say so.
2. The Dawgs Come Home
The injury to Ryan Tannehill has put the once -1 point favorite at home Titans now as a +3 point underdog. Vrabel is licking his lips at being a home underdog once again. At 24-24 SU as an underdog, Vrabel is one of only three coaches to have a .500 or above record. Vrabel’s 12-9-1 against the spread as an underdog following a straight up loss paired with his bye week president screams massive value. The Titans are the play despite the quarterback situation.
3. A Historic Folktale
The best acquisition by Ran Carthon and the Titans front office continues to be Nick Folk and his reliability on field goals and PATs. This week Folk has the ability to make history. With one made field goal made under 40 yards, Folk will officially pass Justin Tucker’s previous record for consecutive field goals made under 40 yards. It would also be the most ever consecutively made.
Even if Folk doesn’t get any chances below 40 yards, he can still join some Titans legends for consecutive field goals made. If Folk makes three field goals this weekend, the veteran leg would join Ryan Succop and Rob Bironas for the 5th most consecutive field goals made all time. A fourth would catapult Folk above those two. Will Folk continue his consistency? Or does this article jinx his record? Only Sunday will tell.
4. Levis Gets His First Start
Mike Vrabel earlier in the week indicated and even doubled down on the fact that Will Levis and Malik Willis would play in the game on Sunday. The response to Vrabels “game plan” has included massive criticism and fans and media alike calling the head coach’s bluff.
Will Levis will get the start, and be the 11th member of the Titans/Oilers franchise to start their first game with the franchise. The list is filled with up and down performances and a below .500 record of 4-6.
These first time field generals have averaged 28 pass attempts, and throwing for an average of 187.5 yards. The production has been very mediocre as well, with these ten quarterbacks throwing a Mariota inflated 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Levis will look to show why he deserved to be a first round talent this week, looking to beat the average.
5. Stop Bijan
Looking at former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s squad, a key to the Titans success will rely on the ability to stop the Falcons key offensive stars. There is no star for the Falcons bigger than rookie running back Bijan Robinson, who is coming off a dramatic week of flu-like symptoms and angering fantasy managers around the world.
The Titans will have to get back to their dominant defensive ways and continue to frustrate Bijan fantasy production this week if the Two-Toned Blue are to impact the game and control the clock. The most important way is to continue to keep the rookie out of the end zone. Robinson, who was third all time in rushing touchdowns at Texas University, has yet to record a rushing score in the NFL. The Titans will look to keep Bijan out of the end zone one more week.
6. King Henry’s Legacy
Arthur Smith and the Falcon have a young star in the making in Bijan Robinson, but the Titans have a bonafide hall of famer in Derrick Henry. With the rumors swirling about King Henry’s possible departure, there are more compelling reasons to keep him as a Titan.
Henry has been a staple for the Titans, leading the franchise in most games with 100 yards from scrimmage and a Touchdown with 35. Henry also heads the league in such stat, besting other stars like Christian McCaffery and Tyreek Hill since 2016.
If Will Levis is indeed the guy for extended time, having a running back like Henry to lighten the load on the rookie quarterback.
7. A Career Game for Denice Autry
Another name that has floated around trade talks is Denice Autry, a stalwart defender that could bring a lot of Interest considering it is Autry’s last year of his contract. Autry could look to boost his trade stock this weekend by recording just a single sack. If Autry were to get to Desmond Ridder this weekend, it will make it four consecutive season that the veteran defender has recorded at least five sacks, and a total of six years in his career.
8. A Defensive Brawl
The Titans ferocious defense has become more or less a household staple in the eyes of the NFL. Over the past three seasons, the Titans have prided themselves on winning games through suffocating their opponent on defense.
The falcons, however, have been the opposite. Their defensive front over the past three seasons has been soft, and the secondary undisciplined. That has all changed this season with key additions like Jessie Bates in the secondary and Calais Campbell has returned to form. The Titans and Falcons defenses have only allowed 117 and 133 points this season through seven weeks, respectively. Both teams are allowing below the NFL average of 142.5. With a mistake prone quarterback in Desmond Ridder and a rookie in Levis, I expect this game to be a low scoring affair.
9. A Secondary Mismatch
Although these defenses are ferocious at times, there is no bigger mismatch than the two secondaries of these defenses. The Falcons backend, led by the likes of Jessie Bates III and AJ Terrel, have allowed an average of 190.1 passing yards per game and a 61.9% completion percentage. The Titans, however, have been less than stellar, allowing 237 yards per game and a 71.5% completion percentage. While the Titans may have the advantage on the front lines, the Falcons have the Titans secondary beat by a landslide.
10. A Very DHop Day
With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, Deandre Hopkins must have a big day for the Titans to find success on offense.
Deandre Hopkins has had the Falcons number in the two times he’s faced off against the Dirty Birds. Hopkins has totaled 16 receptions for 245 yards, however the veteran receiver has failed to find the Endzone. Will Hopkins end his drought this Sunday? Only time will tell.