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Monday Preview: Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans

After an embarrassing loss to the Titans last season, the Bills look to head into Nashville and seek revenge against a familiar AFC foe.

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The 2021 Buffalo Bills Revenge Tour, as many fans are calling it, makes its next stop in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bills will face off against the Titans on Monday Night Football. Fresh off of a complete throttling of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills will try to make it back-to-back dominant primetime performances. Let’s dive in:

The Last Five

2020: Titans 42, Bills 16
2019: Bills 14, Titans 7
2018: Bills 13, Titans 12
2015: Bills 14, Titans 13
2012: Titans 35, Bills 34

There are some fascinating coincidences when these two teams play. Tonight will be the sixth straight time that these two teams will meet in October. Please take a look at this: In 2012, they met in Week 7. In 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2020 the two teams met in Week 5. This year they are meeting in Week 6. For whatever reason, the NFL is doing this on purpose. A week 5, 6, or 7 meeting with the Titans is an annual lock on the Bills’ schedule.

Another weird detail is the unusually close games these two teams play. With 2020 being the exception, the Bills and Titans played three straight one-point games in 2012, 2015, and 2018. There are some odd details when looking at the history of these two teams. However, something tells me that this game, similar to last year’s, will not finish with a one-point margin.

What To Watch For: Bills

Home Game? – The Mafia takeover of Nashville has become an annual tradition. Spend any time on social media this weekend, and you were sure to see airplanes, bars, and the streets of Nashville overrun by Bills fans. We might see more Bills fans in Nashville tonight than in any other away game in Bills’ history. With the presence of Bills fans, this game will feel like a home game for the team. If they win, you can bet that Sean McDermott and the team will credit Bills Mafia for their presence and impact they had on the game, even if they are 700 miles from home.

Personnel Groupings – Last week against the Chiefs, the Bills utilized a new grouping that we had not seen so far this year. The 21 personnel contains two running backs and one tight end. Because of this, we barely saw Cole Beasley for a second straight game. For a player who finished a few yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards last year to play 40% of offense, snaps are a big storyline. One that McDermott tried to downplay this past week. It didn’t come as a surprise that Daboll rolled out some new twists and turns in the game plan last week. As he implemented a grouping that the Chiefs had not seen on film.

The Titans game was the worst game the Bills played last season – it was a game that helped change the trajectory of their season – as the Bills went 11-3 the rest of the way (including playoffs). This is another statement game for the Bills, even with the Titans looking a lot weaker than last year. It will be interesting to see what personnel Daboll rolls out this week – will we see more of the 21? The more traditional 11 that we saw a lot early in the season? Or will we see Cole Beasley make his return to the starting lineup?

What To Watch For: Titans

Derrick Henry – The one-man wrecking ball who can take over a game is looking as dominant as ever this year. Last year Henry posterized Josh Norman, a highlight shown continuously for the rest of the year. What is special about the Titans is this: every team knows that they will try to establish the run early and often. But yet very few teams can stop it from killing them.

The sign of a great team is when your opponent knows exactly what you are going to do, but yet, they still can’t stop it. That has been the Titans formula for the past few years. Last year, the Bills were unable to stop Henry from doing his usual damage. The Bills’ run defense is much improved and is one of the best in the league right now. The Derrick Henry vs. Bills D-Line matchup is going to be tested early. This will determine if the Titans can hang around with the Bills’ offense in this one.

Turnovers – The Titans have one of the worst turnover differentials in the league at -3. The Bills have the best at +11. In three straight weeks, the knock on the Bills high turnover differential was aided by facing Brissett, Heinicke, and Mills. But after a +4 differential against Kansas City, that chatter subsided rather quickly. The Bills defense is now viewed nationally as the legit force that it is. A possible concern for the Titans is that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has fumbled three times in five games this year.

If the Bills can get to Tannehill, look for them to start chopping at the ball, knowing the trouble he has had holding on to the ball this year. With the Titans defense currently ranked in the bottom third of the league, it is clear that they will not win this game if they shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers. Yes, the Bills have had a few lucky bounces in the turnover department this year, and eventually, those will even out. Still, their takeaway rate is something that Titans coach Mike Vrabel mentioned this week. He knows that if they want to upset the Bills, it starts with protecting the football.

Prediction

Bills 41 Titans 24 There is no reason to think that the high-powered Bills offense is going to slow down, facing the 24th ranked defense in the league. The Bills have too much firepower for the Titans to keep up within this one. Last year the Bills faced some odd circumstances due to Covid that led to their embarrassing loss. Postponements forced the game to be played on a Tuesday night. The Bills were also missing Tre White, Matt Milano, Zack Moss, and John Brown. Tonight, the Bills are coming in close to fully healthy. I see no reason why the Bills can’t win this game. I expect the Bills to put on a show in the Music City for the 25,000 plus expected Bills fans that traveled to Nashville for the next leg of the 2021 Revenge Tour.

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