The sting from losing an eminently winnable game against the prince of darkness and his minions from New England should have abated (slightly) and now it is important to turn full scale attention to the task at hand: The Tennessee Titans.
The Titans and Bills have played 3 times since 2012 (2012, 2015, 2018) and all 3 games have ended up being decided by one point, with the Bills winning the last two (14-13 and 13-12). Not offensive thrillers but really tight, smash mouth kinds of games. I think we are in store for another on Sunday.
As we know, the Bills have a very good defense, allowing only 15.8 points per game. This is a minor miracle considering the number of turnovers their offense has committed and the short fields they have been left to defend, not to mention the blocked punt for 6 points that factors into that number.
On the other hand, the Titans are allowing less points per game than the Bills at 15.5. Since Mariota has thrown NO INT’s yet I have to presume they haven’t been under quite the same strain as the Bills defense.
Nonetheless, you get the idea, both from these numbers and the closeness of the past games, that this might well be a close low scoring game. Keep the cardiologist on speed dial.
I never quite know what to make of the Titans. They always seem to be near a playoff spot but never seem like a dominant team.
This year they have impressive road wins in Cleveland (blew them out) and in Atlanta (dominated them, leading 24-7 at half time and cruising to a 24-10 win), yet looked lost (especially on offense) in a Thursday nighter against Jacksonville and then lost a close one at home to Indianapolis.
The Titans clearly did a lot of good things against Atlanta in their last game: Marcus Mariotta threw for 3 TDs, Derrick Henry ran for over 100 yards, their top rookie wideout AJ Brown caught three balls for an average of over 31 yards per catch, they sacked Matt Ryan five times and held Devonta Freeman to 28 yards on 12 carries. On the road. That’s impressive.
I’ve come to expect the Bills defense to show up. That said, a letdown here against Tennessee by that side of the ball after such a herculean effort against the Pats is conceivable. That would be disastrous.
I do not have a lot of confidence in the Bills offense going against a Tennessee team that just doesn’t give up a lot of points and seems sturdy against both the run and pass. A multi turnover game by the Bills offense I think would doom them this week.
I get a distinct sense it will have to be a scrape and claw for yardage and field position kind of game.The Titans get back their top left tackle Taylor Lewan after a four game suspension. He is a load and that should help both Mariota get more time to throw and Derrick Henry get more room to run.
After watching Josh Allen looked confused and stressed over the first 4 games, I am not sure whether it would be better to see him or Barkley get this week’s start. Allen is certainly more mobile thereby offering another much needed weapon against this Titan defense, but Barkley may be less prone to the huge game changing mistakes that have had Allen reverting to early 2018 form. The Titans are +5 in turnover margin and a plus margin for Tennessee this Sunday may well doom the Bills.
In either case, getting Devin Singletary back could make a big difference. Trying to run the middle of the Titans defense against Jurrell Casey and mammoth DaQuan Jones will not be easy and Singletary might give them an edge in forcing the Titans to respect the threat to the boundaries.
Old “friends” Cameron Wake (Dolphins) and Malcolm Butler (Patriots) also show up as starters for Tennessee. Dion Lewis and Ryan Tannehill are on the Titans as well, rounding out the AFC East reunion.
I view this as an important game for the Bills. With 11 games left thereafter, it is too early in the season to call it critical but important nonetheless. 4-1 with three road wins and three home games in a row coming up, 2 of which are against winless teams, would really set the Bills up nicely for a very difficult second half of the season.
It would give the Bills a tiebreaker edge against another AFC playoff contender. It would enable them to separate from the mass of teams near .500 and maintain their status as a team on the rise. A loss and they are back to the mad scramble below them. In that respect, it might be one of the defining games of 2019.
Do they win this one? I have no idea.That’s why they play the games. I do think it will close but not easy, nor pretty.
Editor’s babble: Oh that post sure hit the bullseye. The Titans are a scrappy team with a defense that will make you pay for every yard. This game will test BillsMafia’s mettle, but I expect a large presence of the FAMbase in Nashville will make their feelings known. Thanks, as always to Joe Tauriello for his bang-on contributions to our blog. You can find Joe on Twitter @Joe_Tauriello.