Monday Preview: Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans

If you’re reading this article, then the Bills and Titans game is somehow miraculously still on. In NFL history, there have only been two games on Tuesdays. Most recently in 2010, with the first time occurring in 1946. By now you are well aware that the Tennessee Titans are the NFL’s COVID-19 super spreader. What started out as a few cases has catapulted to 24 over the course of two weeks. A secret practice held last weekend that violated protocols put this game, and more importantly, the health of many people in jeopardy. Despite it all, the NFL season presses on and we must prepare for a Tuesday game day!

The Last Five

Bills 14 Titans 7 (2019)
Bills 13 Titans 12 (2018)
Bills 14 Titans 13 (2015)
Titans 35 Bills 34 (2012)
Titans 23 Bills 17 (2011)

In a weird quirk, this is the third straight season the Bills and Titans will meet in week five and the fourth straight time overall, as their game in 2015 was also in week 5. Josh Allen and Sean McDermott have beaten the Titans two years in a row and will look to make it three on Tuesday night.

What To Watch For: Bills

Josh Allen – Josh Allen is on a torrid pace. His numbers through the quarter mark are better than the last two MVP’s were at this same time. With Jackson, Mahomes, and Wilson having fairly modest days (for their standards) again in Week 5, the possibility that Allen will remain in the MVP talk, for the time being, is growing and will continue to grow if he has another big night against the Titans. Allen will continue to be the Bills key to victory, especially if their defense cannot return to what they were last year, and the Bills have to rely on scoring 30+ points per game.

Matt Milano Absence – The Bills were without Milano against the Jets for a half, and then again against the Dolphins for the whole game, and it showed. The middle of the field was constantly being attacked in the Dolphins’ game as Milano’s replacement was being exploited on the defensive side of the ball. The Titans have a large TE in Jonnu Smith that could be in for a big day unless A.J. Klein steps up his game in a big, big way.

Bills’ Health – COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on our world. The health and safety of our loved ones has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds since the initial outbreak in March and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Football players are human beings first, and you would have to think that members of the Bills organization will be nervous walking into the Titans facility, which has been the hotspot for the NFL’s first major outbreak. Coming out of this game healthy will be something that the Bills will have on their mind. For the sake of the players, the staff, and their families, I know we are all hoping they come out of Tuesday night healthy. This is a legitimate concern for the Bills.

What To Watch For: Titans

Lack of Practice – The Titans shut down their facility on Tuesday, September 29th, after three players and five faculty members tested positive for COVID-19. Due to ongoing positive tests, the next time the Titans were in their facility was Saturday, October 10th. On Sunday the 11th, another positive test came back for the Titans. By the end of the day on Sunday, the Titans were able to hold a walk-through practice. With the exception of an illegal practice that probably led to worsening the outbreak, the Titans haven’t had a practice in a week and a half. As it stands, they will have one day to prepare for the 4-0 Bills, and you would have to think it will show in their performance on Tuesday night.

Close Games – The Titans have been playing with fire through their first three games. While some might say the same for the Bills, the Titans have flirted with defeat much more aggressively than Buffalo. The margin of victory for the Titans in their first three games has been 2, 3, and 1, respectively. All three games have featured a game-winning field goal from Stephen Gostkowski with under two minutes left in the game.

Derrick Henry – The man who single-handedly carried the Titans to the AFC Championships game last season has been the workhorse for the Titans offense once again this year. In their first three games, Henry carried the ball 31, 25, and 26 times. Considering the Bills spotty defense that has been present so far through a quarter of the season, and taking into account the Milano injury, I would think Henry is going to be a big part of the game plan again this week. If the Bills don’t have an answer on defense, then it could be a long night for them, and outscoring the Titans in a track meet might be the only path to victory.

Prediction

Bills 33 Titans 24 I can’t remember the last time I felt this much uncertainty around a Bills game. The Titans have been saying that they will use what fans and media are saying about them, mainly that they should be forced to forfeit after breaking the rules and holding an illegal practice, and that will be the motivation that they need for the week. I can talk myself into a win for either team, and I landed on the Bills because having just two days of practice to prepare for one of the best teams in the league should be a detriment to the Titans. Also, I have no reason to believe that Sean McDermott won’t have the Bills mentally ready for this game and for all of the unexpected twists and turns of this season. He is the Bills’ stable and unflappable leader, and that makes a difference when adversity strikes.

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