Happy Gameday Tuesday, Bills Mafia! (That felt weird to write.) I’m sure you are all ready for tonight’s battle between the Bills and Titans. These teams have had a quasi-rivalry over the past 30 years. This is due to some notable moments, including the comeback, the mirage, and the coronavirus outbreak. On the field, these teams have played each other tough since the turn of the millennium. In the ten contests since 2000, nine were decided by a single score, with six of those nine coming down to a field goal or less.
Normally, in my “2020 Vision” profiles, I would look at a standout player from the previous week’s game and determine their career potential through a comparison to the greats at their position. However, since the Bills have not yet played this week, that is not possible. Instead, I will highlight a player who I believe will have a significant impact on tonight’s game and give my own game prediction.
As you can see from the title of this article, I believe that tonight’s game could hinge on the performance of rookie kicker Tyler Bass. Now, before you groan and/or say “no duh”, hear me out. Let’s take a look at four of these contests and examine the role that the kickers played in their outcomes.
2000: Bills 16, Titans 13
The Bills got their revenge for the “Music City Miracle”, beating the Titans in the first game of the new millennium. It was a defensive affair as both teams combined for 326 passing yards, 182 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. This game came down to the kickers as Al Del Greco made two field goals in the first half, and Steve Christie made three in the second half, including the game-winning 33-yarder with 31 seconds left.
2006: Titans 30, Bills 29
This game was an all-around offensive duel. J.P. Losman had 266 passing yards for Buffalo but had two interceptions and only one touchdown (to Lee Evans of course), while Willis McGahee had 115 total yards and a rushing score. However, the Titans were on a whole other level as Vince Young had 244 total yards and three touchdowns and Travis Henry ran for 135 yards. The only reason that Buffalo wasn’t blown out in this game was because Rian Lindell made five field goals in the first three quarters.
2018: Bills 13, Titans 12
Most of you probably remember Josh Allen’s first game against Tennessee. He recorded the only touchdown in the game, but it was sealed by the kickers. Ryan Succop was the entire offense for the Titans (making four field goals), while Stephen Hauschka made all three of his kicks (one extra point and two field goals), including the game-winning field goal as time expired.
2019: Bills 14, Titans 7
We all remember this game; another defensive contest that came down to the leg of a kicker. However, this time it was the mistakes that determined the outcome as Cairo Santos missed four field goals, leaving 12 points off the board for the Titans. Additionally, his third miss set up what would be the game-winning drive for Buffalo, culminating in a Duke Williams touchdown reception.
My Game Prediction
While I would love for the Bills to go out tonight and utterly dominate the Titans, I do not think that will happen. They always seem to play tough against the Bills, and, if the previous two matchups in the McBeane era are any indication, every point will be sacred. This is where Tyler Bass comes in. He did struggle early this season, missing two field goals in his debut and an extra point last week. However, I believe that he is due for a “welcome to the NFL” moment, and that could very well come tonight. Bills kickers have shown up in close games against this team in the past, and I fully expect Bass to continue that trend.
Prediction: Bills win 24-21
* All game stats provided by Pro Football Reference.
What do you think? Will my predictions cross the uprights or miss completely? Let me know on Twitter (@zvaughn2712)