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Pre-Game Recon (Texans v. Falcons): Julio Jones Cannot Be Stopped

Dave Choate from our sister site, The Falcoholic, was kind enough to answer all of our burning questions on his beloved Falcons in advance of this weekend's quadrennial Southern showdown.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

1) I won't bother asking a question like, "How do you stop Julio Jones?" because we both know that isn't going to happen, so instead I'll just ask how does it feel to get to watch this ridiculousness every single week?

It's glorious, and you're always afraid it'll end. We just haven't seen sheer dominance like this from the wide receiver position in Atlanta, even when Roddy White was in his prime and Andre Rison was going nuts in the 90s. You can take Julio out of the game for stretches, but I agree, he can't be completely stopped right now.

2) How have Vic Beasley and Jake Matthews performed so far this season? Are you confident in how your recent top 10 picks will pan out?

Both very well. Beasley's impact has chiefly been as a speedy nuisance off the edge, where he's forced opposing tackles into holding penalties and uncharacteristic mistakes. I was very impressed with how well he played against Tyron Smith of Dallas last weekend, and while he's still a bit of a limited player against the run, he's everything he was advertised to be as a pass rusher.

Jake Matthews had a lousy rookie season, in part due to an ankle injury, but he's been one of the best NFL tackles in pass protection thus far in 2015. I'm hopeful that will continue, and he does have the athleticism and acumen to make it work in Kyle Shanahan's scheme.

I'm very confident both of these guys will pan out. That's not going to make this team truly great overnight, but it'll help.

3) When Tevin Coleman eventually comes back, will he be the lead running back again? Has Devonta Freeman somehow taken his job after just one start?

Great question! Unfortunately, my answer has to be a shrug.

If Devonta Freeman reels off another huge game, he'll likely be the lead back for a while after Coleman returns, but either way these two players are going to split carries. Freeman's a physical back and a better pass catcher, while Coleman has that game-breaking speed and displayed good vision in his two starts. If I had to guess, I'd say Coleman will get more carries and Freeman more snaps through the rest of the year, but their touches will be determined at least partially by the hot hand and game flow.

This is a good problem to have, and one the Falcons haven't had in many years. They have two backs capable of starting, and that gives them much-needed balance on offense.

4) What would you say is Atlanta's biggest weakness on defense? What about on offense?

On defense, it's the inability to cover short passes over the middle of the field, and to handle shifty backs. The Falcons' linebackers and secondary simply haven't had a ton of luck covering those plays, and in three consecutive weeks, they've been gashed by Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen (to a lesser extent), and Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. The team will get a boost in that regard if Brooks Reed returns this week, but it's still a legitimate weakness.

On offense, the Falcons haven't gotten truly consistent play out of their non-Julio receiving options. Roddy White hasn't been very involved in the gameplan, Leonard Hankerson has dropped a handful of passes, and Jacob Tamme has gone in and out of the passing game. This should improve as time goes on, but if you can slow down Julio Jones, you certainly slow down this offense, as well.

5) What is your prediction for the game, and why?

I've got 27-17, Falcons. I think this is a Texans team with genuine talent, and I've probably been a little unkind to the defense outside of that dominant front. That said, I'll be a lot more worried if Arian Foster plays, Atlanta's at home, and Julio Jones is genuinely so difficult to contain that I think the Falcons will be able to put the points on the board they need to in order to win. I won't be particularly surprised if it's a lot closer than that, but I like the Falcons' chances.

A big thank you to Dave for stopping by. You can read all of his (and others') excellent work over on The Falcoholic to get your fix on all things Falcons.

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