Titans vs. Falcons (Preview Part II)

This week’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons will mark the Titans’ first game since their 31-14 rout of the underachieving New Orleans Saints in front of a national primetime audience. The emphatic win provided the entire nation with the opportunity to witness what fans around these parts have known for quite some time: the Titans are an up and coming football team that has the potential to make the playoffs this season.
On Sunday, the Titans will attempt to avoid a letdown performance as they face a Falcons squad seeking to earn their second win of the season. In order to win and stay afloat in what appears to be a very competitive AFC South division this year, the Titans must accomplish the following three objectives:
Win the 3rd down battle
Offensively, the Titans are currently the league’s 5th best team in the category of third down conversions, moving the chains at an efficient rate of 48.6% on third downs. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the defense has allowed the opposition to be successful at moving the chains on 47.2% of their third down opportunities, which is the 6th worst rate in the league. Despite a 1-3 record, the Falcons have been very effective at completing third down conversions (48.3 %, 7th in the NFL) and at preventing opposing teams from converting third downs, (34.8%, 3rd in the NFL). The Titans’ ability to convert third downs and to prevent the Falcons from moving the chains will play a key role in the outcome of the game this Sunday.
Contain Atlanta’s emerging young wide receivers
Under the tutelage of first year coach Bobby Petrino and the surprisingly effective passing of Joey Harrington, Roddy White and Michael Jenkins are finally beginning to play like former first round draft selections. White has emerged as a viable deep threat, leading the team in receiving yards (301) and yards per catch (16.7) while Jenkins currently leads the team in receiving touchdowns (2). The responsibility of covering White and Jenkins will fall upon the shoulders of Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan, with safety help being provided by the playmaking ability of Chris Hope.
Win the battle of the trenches
A key to the Titans’ success thus far has been their ability to win the battle of the trenches. The physical play of the offensive line has been the backbone of the team’s success at running the football this season, while stellar defensive line play from the likes of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch has caused fits for opposing quarterbacks. The Titans will be successful against Atlanta if LenDale White and Chris Brown continue to accumulate yards behind the powerful blocking of the offensive line and the defensive line is able to put consistent pressure on Joey Harrington.

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