This post is the second part to Turner_The _Burner's post Best Case Scenario vs. The Titans. It can be read it here.
It's that time of the week again when Turner_The_Burner and I, dunlagh, will give you a breakdown of the 3 best case and 3 worst case situations for the game. These will focus on different parts of the Falcons game where they could soar or suffer against our opponents. Obviously we’re Falcons fans, and have a bit more knowledge of the Dirty Birds than some other teams, so if you’re a visitor or just an NFL purist and we make a shocking mistake, please call us out on it! Other than that I hope you enjoy our work.
After a near miss against the Saints we find ourselves in a bit of a tricky spot. Many people say this upcoming game is a must win for us, and maybe it is. However if we do lose this game we can still make the playoffs, though it might take a fairly strong effort. Right now we are looking at a wild card spot, and so any momentum we can muster will be a huge help in the long run. The rest of the games from here on out will not be a cake walk and there will definitely be some hardship, but we have the talent to make it, we just need to prove it. So entering week 11, we give you the 9th best case/worst case scenario for 2011.
Flipping it to the Titans
I get to play the role of doomsayer, as I speak about 3 areas where Tennessee can hurt us bad. The Titans, like us are sitting at 5-4 and are 2nd in their division. They have the chance to gain some precious ground on the Texans who have lost Schaub for the near future and could steal the division if they can get some important wins. Due to the playoff ramifications, even this early in the season, there is no doubt that this game will be hard fought, so the 3 worst case scenarios for the Falcons are - CJ is OK?, Being hassled by Hasselbeck and Matty Ice is off.
CJ is OK?: Chris Johnson had an amazing season two years ago managing just over 2,000 rushing yards, a feat rarely achieved in the NFL. He then followed it up with a very respectable 1364 yards, 4th in the NFL. Coming into his 3rd season since his break out, he has looked lethargic, slow and less agile then in years past. When he often made people miss when one on one, he has now struggled to beat the one-on-one and subsequently been left with a 3.4 yard per carry average and only 2 TD's. However the last 2 weeks Johnson has looked like himself again, averaged over 4.5 yards for the 1st time since last year. Even his receiving stats went up averaging over 10 yards per catch for the 2nd (and then 3rd) time this season.
CJ usually has the ability to make a player miss either with his speed or his strength, granted his speed is more deadly, making him one of the deadliest weapons in the NFL. His ability to break into the open field and outpace a player is remarkable and is one of the big reason he was able to join the all mighty 2,000 yards rushing club. When him and his O-line are on, a simple reverse is all that is needed to shift a defense out of position enough for him to make a huge play. In fact Johnson's speed and awareness gives him the ability to extend any play beyond what would normally be capable for a RB, allowing what would normally be considered a loss, to become a nice gain. He is one of the leagues deadliest weapons and if he turns on this week, we may all be in trouble, regardless how amazing Lofton and 'Spoon play.
BEWARE OF CJ2K!!
Being hassled by Hasselbeck: One of the many unexpected stories to come out of this strange strange year, is the play of Matt Hasselbeck. A QB who had strived in years past when he made a Super Bowl run in 2005, he has more recently been quite lackluster. As a member of the Seahawks in recent years, he struggled to keep his starting job and play with any consistency that he showed 2007 and earlier. When he moved to the Titans, many thought he would be a temporary starter so that Jake Locker could take up the mantle part way through the season, no such luck for Locker, Hasselbeck has fit straight into the offense and played excellently, especially considering his lack of Kenny Britt.
Other then the now injured Kenny Britt, 6 different receivers have played a factor in the offense by recording 10 catches or more. Washington has performed admirably but he has had struggles now playing against teams #1 CB, regardless he isn't one to be counted out as he consistently grabs 3 or 4 catches every game. Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and TE Jared Cook have all contributed nicely to the offense picking up over 20 catches a piece. Lavelle Hawkins has done nicely in the slot, however he doesn't have the explosiveness of Williams (who has replaced Britt on the outside). William had a very nice game last week with 5 catches for 107 yards (though 83 of those yards came on two plays). His 43 yard TD came on a screen play where he made a defender miss and then was able to out run another, his 2nd 40 yard play he beats his defender streaking up field and had it not been for a slight under throw he might have been able to break free. Cook is a decent TE who has grabbed a 2 or 3 receptions every game and although isn't a huge factor in the offense he still makes his mark and has the explosiveness to break an 80 yard TD and also has the strength to break a tackle or two.
Matty Ice is off: Did you know Matt Ryan has thrown a pick in all but 2 games this season? And in three games he has thrown 2 picks. That his QB rating has been above 90 only thrice and under 70 twice. He has thrown the ball over 300 yards 3 times and every time required over 45 attempts passing. He has never thrown better then 70% completion or worse then 50%. And he is on track for 60.1% completions, 4,105 yards, 25 TD's, 20 picks and a rating of 83.0. Which brings him to his 2nd worst season despite throwing the ball a lot more, with only his yards thrown being a career best. Matt Ryan is having an average season (though I will admit a couple picks have not been Ryan's fault). Ironically every time Ryan throws for 300+ yards and 45+ attempts we lose and every time Ryan throws less then 58% completions, we also lose. However if he throws 0 picks or more then 2 touchdowns we win. Sure the game isn't entirely in Ryan's hands however in a year when we have had the potential to do so well, Ryan has slipped and our team has mirrored this, sometimes we have been able to play well despite Ryan (ie. the Lions game). However if we want to win now and going forward, we need Ryan to rise up!
Unfortunately that is all we have for this week. But we will be back, we always are. A win here would keep us on track for a playoff spot but a loss would severely hurt our chances of extending our season. But until next time, I wish you good luck and all the best to the Falcons - this should be a great game. I apologize for the lateness I was off saving peoples lives, true story. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.