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Coming off a Week 1 victory that couldn’t have gone any better, the Buffalo Bills will have a total of 10 days to prepare for their next opponent. They’re going to need it, as Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans are paying another visit to Highmark Stadium. The Titans have been a playoff team each of the past three seasons.
In that same timeframe, the Titans have beat the Bills twice. Buffalo hasn’t beaten the Mike Vrabel-led team since 2019. But this is the first time Tennessee has traveled to Buffalo since 2018, which was another win for the home team.
But what about the 2022 version of the Titans? How do they match up with the Rumbling Herd?
King Henry is still the conductor of this train, but his supporting cast is starting to fade. It didn’t help that Harold Landry, Tennessee’s top pass rusher, tore his ACL in early September, wiping out his season and sapping their ability to pressure quarterbacks. Yet, this roster teardown may have begun this past offseason by trading Ryan Tannehill’s top target A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles on draft day.
This has left the Titans without a dangerous passing attack, as rookie first-round pick Treylon Burks has Deebo Samuel-like skills, but we don’t yet know if they will translate to the NFL. The 18th overall pick in April hauled in three receptions for 55 yards in Week 1 and showed some of the traits that enticed Tennessee during the draft process.
But all this ignores the fact that the Titans just lost to a New York Giants team expected to take a step forward but still miss the playoffs in Brian Daboll’s first year at the helm. With the Giants missing their top two pass-rushers, it’s a game the Titans should have been able to win. Easily.
Instead, their offense sputtered, and they got gashed by Saquon Barkley to let the G-Men back in the game before a missed 47-yard kick cost them the game.
All of this is to say, though the Titans made the playoffs last season, their first game wasn’t anything near worthy of playing in the postseason. That doesn’t mean there won’t still be a few matchups that could potentially cause problems on game day.
Buffalo Bills vs. Titans game details, where to watch
- Monday, September 19, 2022
- Start time: 7:15 PM ET
- TV channel - ESPN
- Location - Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, NY
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Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Titans safety duo (Kevin Byard & Amani Hooker)
As Bills Fans know all too well, Buffalo has one of the best safety duos in football. Well, so do the Titans. Both Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker are well above-average in coverage. Like the Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer combo, neither player was selected very highly, with Byard going 64th and Hooker being the 116th pick in their respective drafts.
Clearly, their draft positioning hasn’t impacted their ability to earn respect. Byard is a two-time first-team All-Pro safety who intercepted a league-leading eight passes in his second season back in 2017. He’s followed that effort with 15 more picks in the past four years. And he’s also a tackling machine as he’s finished as Tennessee’s leading tackler the past two seasons.
Hooker plays similarly to Byard in that he’s a ballhawk, but he also isn’t afraid to occasionally lay the wood on unsuspecting ballcarriers.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a couple of Allen’s tipped passes find their way into the hands of Byard or Hooker as they patrol center field on Monday night. These guys will be ready to capitalize on any opportunity that presents itself.
- Bills Mafia (Run stuffers) vs. Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry’s persona was more prominent than his actual production for a few years when he stepped between the lines against the Bills. We saw that is no longer the case after he ran through the Buffalo defense for 143 yards and three touchdowns last season. He was the only reason the Titans managed to squeak out a three-point victory in Week 6.
But the Bills have reshaped their defensive interior a bit, bringing in DaQuan Jones, Jordan Phillips (again), and Tim Settle. Until facing a beast like Henry, we don’t really know what to expect in the trenches.
Leslie Frazier’s unit has been able to limit Henry in the past, holding him to 3.9 and 3 yards per carry in their matchups in 2019 and 2020, but it all went wrong last season when Henry broke loose for a 76-yard score. We’ll see what they have in store for Monday night, and maybe Jones can provide some helpful pointers since he spent five seasons in Tennessee practicing against the monstrous running back.
- Buffalo Five (OL) vs. Jeffery Simmons & Bud Dupree
While it’s true that the Titans won’t have their leading sack artist from the past three seasons, they will still have two players capable of wrecking a game plan in Jeffery Simmons and Bud Dupree.
Simmons’s career high in sacks is 8.5, and he’ll be rushing from the interior against the likes of Rodger Saffold, Mitch Morse, and Ryan Bates. Yet, Dupree’s career high in sacks is 11.5 when he was with the Steelers, and he’ll likely be matched up most commonly with Dion Dawkins off the edge.
Both players know they have to step it up a notch without Landry also in the mix, and they appear up to the task, with Simmons picking up two sacks and a forced fumble while Dupree added a sack of his own in Week 1. Let’s hope they don’t bring the same energy to Highmark Stadium under the lights.
© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills vs. Titans game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 11-6, AFC East champions
- Tennessee Titans: 12-5, first place in AFC South, lost in Divisional Round
Playing their first home game of the season, expect the Bills to continue the same dominance displayed in Week 1. Tennessee’s expected lack of a pass rush won’t force Josh Allen to stick to his quick-throwing ways (though maybe he should), and that alone could lead to more downfield shots to Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis.
Then again, seeing the Giants rumble for 238 rushing yards could lead to Ken Dorsey trying to establish the running game early and often on Monday night. Either way, Tennessee’s biggest threat is its ability to play smashmouth football, with Henry bulldozing defenders. Is that enough to hang when the Bills haven’t even needed to punt lately? Probably not.
With how lethargic the Titans looked in Week 1 and how great Buffalo was, the Bills are favored by 9.5 points by Vegas oddsmakers.
That’s about the same expectation here, with Buffalo’s high-scoring offense proving too efficient for Tannehill and his cronies to keep up with.
Game prediction: Bills 31, Titans 20 - Bills victory
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