Coming off a disappointing 27-24 loss to the Colts in Week 3, the Falcons enter Week 4 at 1-2 and with a lot of questions still to answer. Are they the team that looked better than the Eagles in Week 2, or the team that got blown off the field in the first half against Indianapolis and Minnesota?
Perhaps some of those questions will be answered this week against the Titans (1-2). Atlanta has a chance to get back to .500 against an opponent that has had similar struggles with consistency in 2019. Let’s take a closer look at how these two teams matchup statistically on offense and defense.
|Points/game||23.5 (15th)||17.9 (27th)|
|Total yards/game||370.3 (11th)||344.8 (20th)|
|Yards per play||5.5 (15th)||5.4 (18th)|
|Passing yards/game||288.9 (4th)||235.8 (14th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.4 (T-14th)||6.8 (T-18th)|
|Passing TDs||27 (T-5th)||20 (T-19th)|
|Rushing yards/game||81.4 (30th)||109.0 (15th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||3.7 (T-26th)||4.5 (T-11th)|
|Rushing TDs||8 (T-23rd)||3 (32nd)|
|Third Down Efficiency||42% (14th)||33% (28th)|
|Turnover Margin||-6 (25th)||-3 (20th)|
The Falcons have been improving their offensive statistics with every game following a pretty poor showing in Week 1. Atlanta is now T-21st in total points, 10th in total yardage, and 9th in yards per play—you can see the effect all the turnovers have had on their scoring, despite producing yards at a very good rate. In the passing game, the team is 6th in yardage, T-15th in yards per attempt, and T-3rd in passing TDs. On the ground, Atlanta is 27th in yardage, T-18th in yards per carry, and T-29th in rushing TDs (one of three teams with zero on the season). The Falcons drastically improved their third down offense against Indianapolis, and are now sitting at a 46% conversion rate (10th). They’re still -4 in turnover margin (T-28th), which is holding the team back in a major way.
The Titans have been about league-average in scoring (T-15th)—due in large part to their 43-point rout of the Browns in Week 1. They’ve struggled at producing yards, however: Tennessee is 27th in total yardage and 27th in yards per play. The passing game has thus far been a weakness: the team is 28th in yardage, 13th in yards per attempt, and T-17th in passing TDs. On the ground, the Titans have been better: 12th in rushing yardage, T-15th in yards per carry, and T-11th in rushing TDs. While Tennessee has struggled on third down (30% conversion rate, T-25th), they’ve been excellent at protecting the ball and creating turnovers on defense (+4 TO margin, T-2nd).
|Points/game||26.1 (25th)||25.2 (23rd)|
|Total yards/game||362.6 (20th)||372.4 (24th)|
|Yards per play||5.8 (21st)||6.0 (28th)|
|Passing yards/game||253.7 (23rd)||232.3 (14th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.8 (T-24th)||7.9 (26th)|
|Passing TDs||25 (22nd)||21 (T-15th)|
|Rushing yards/game||108.9 (16th)||140.1 (29th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||4.1 (T-10th)||5.1 (31st)|
|Rushing TDs||13 (T-20th)||19 (31st)|
|Third Down Efficiency||43% (24th)||41% (22nd)|
|Sacks||24 (T-29th)||43 (T-5th)|
The Falcons defense had a lackluster outing against the Colts, which has hurt their overall defensive statistics. Atlanta is 21st in points allowed, 7th in total yardage, and 9th in yards per play. The team remains strong against the pass (statistically, anyway): 8th in passing yardage, T-12th in yards per attempt, and T-9th in passing TDs. The Falcons run defense has continued to improve despite facing two strong rushing attacks: overall, the team is 12th in rushing yardage allowed, T-6th in yards per carry, and T-29th in rushing TDs. Where Atlanta has struggled all season is on third down, allowing an embarrassing 53% conversion rate (T-29th). After a hot start, the Falcons have struggled at producing sacks, with just 5 through three games (T-23rd).
Tennessee, meanwhile, is a top-10 defense overall—they may lack star power, but they’re remarkably deep at all levels of the defense. The Titans are 8th in points allowed, 6th in total yardage, and 11th in yards per play. Against the pass, the team is 3rd in yardage allowed, T-8th in yards per attempt, and T-19th in passing TDs. Tennessee has struggled to stop the run, however: they’re 21st in rushing yardage allowed, T-22nd in yards per carry, but T-4th in rushing TDs (just 1 allowed so far). The Titans have been excellent on third down (29% conversion rate, 5th) and have been above-average at generating sacks (8, T-13th).
After three weeks, we still have more questions than answers with this Falcons team. Are they the team that looked better in both facets against an NFC contender in the Eagles? Or are they the team that went down 28-0 and 20-3 in Weeks 1 and 2? The stats tell us that the Falcons should be better than they are. All the offensive yardage metrics say that Atlanta is a top-10 unit, but they’re T-21st in scoring. All the defensive yardage metrics say that the team is a top-10 unit, but they’re 21st in points allowed.
The discrepancy seems to be the turnovers: when you give your opponent a bunch of extra possessions and prematurely end your scoring drives, you get a losing team. That’s the biggest area where this team needs to improve. Against the Titans, I don’t think the matchup is as close as the raw numbers would indicate. Tennessee has looked downright lethargic on offense in the two games since that 43-point explosion against Cleveland—that game may end up being a significant outlier.
However, the Titans do have a very good defense that is capable of keeping the scoring low: they’ve allowed only 13, 17, and 20 points in their first three games. Atlanta will have to get creative and incorporate the running game (the weakest area of the Titans defense) to have success on offense in Week 4. Meanwhile, on defense, things seem to be matching up well for the Falcons: Tennessee’s offense goes through RB Derrick Henry, while QB Marcus Mariota has been pretty bad over the past two games. Atlanta’s defensive line will be the key to limiting Henry’s production and putting pressure on Mariota.
Overall Advantage: Push
How do you think the Falcons and Titans compare statistically? What’s your prediction for the game on Sunday?