The Falcons have caught a few lucky breaks on the injury front this season, with the Cowboys being down Dez Bryant and Tony Romo, and the Texans only having access to a rusty Arian Foster. This Titans game may or may not repeat that pattern, for reasons we'll explain below.
Whisenhunt: Marcus Mariota will not play Sunday against the Falcons.— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 23, 2015
Whisenhunt: WR Harry Douglas is also out Sunday.— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 23, 2015
A limited Mariota is actually probably a worse option at quarterback than Zach Mettenberger, because Mariota's at his best when he can move around and potentially take off running when the play breaks down. He simply would not be able to do so with an injured MCL, which means the strong-armed Mettenberger will probably offer more to the offense. There's a decent chance he'll get annihilated behind a shaky Tennessee offensive line, but there's also a decent chance Mariota would have also been.
Similarly, while having one of your top receivers out for the game should be a downgrade, Harry Douglas missing this matchup against his former team is probably going to hurt the Falcons more than it helps them. Dorial Green-Beckham is a raw receiver, but he's bigger, stronger, and more athletic than Douglas, who has been a complete non-factor in the Titans offense thus far in 2015. DGB will draw tough matchups against Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, yes, but he's infinitely more dangerous than HD.
This remains a favorable matchup for the Falcons, but certainly I'll be watching that Mettenberger-DGB connection carefully.