Three things on my mind as we (finally, hopefully) get ready for the Bills game in Tennessee …
Take Advantage Of Your Advantages
The NFL is doing everything it can to play a season amidst a pandemic. Many changes have been made. Many more are likely to come. The league just won’t be able to make every switch completely fair and balanced for every team.
The Bills are gonna get the short end of the stick next week against the Chiefs. Buffalo will have six days between games while Kansas City will get eight. Neither team is responsible for the situation, so it was impossible not to deal one of the two a bad hand.
This week is the opposite for Buffalo. This week, they have the advantage. It’s not in rest time (Titans have been off 15 days), but in practice situation. Even while the Bills have been wondering when they would play week five, they’ve still been together and getting better. The Titans couldn’t report to their facility for ten days and they are still missing a handful of players sitting on their Covid/reserve.
Sean McDermott has preached rolling with the punches during this Covid distressed season. His Bills have the upper hand for this game. They can’t waste it.
Don’t Take What They Give You
The Titans are dead last in rush defense. They’ve allowed 5.8 yards per carry. That’s more than a half yard worse than the third to last team. It’s a full yard worse than the 7th to last team.
You’d think Brian Daboll and his Bill Belichick inspired background would want to strap his offense on Devin Singletary’s back for a monster rushing day. And he might.
However, the Titans aren’t much better against the pass then they are against the run and Josh Allen is just humming right now. No need to out think yourself. The Bills should be fine going to the air early and often. If Allen and the receivers happen to have an off day, Singletary is probably available as a highly effective plan B.
This offense is getting close to the point where they don’t need to adjust for opposing defenses. Do what you do until someone shows they can stop it.
The Question Of Efficiency
The Titans have a weird offense. They are 23rd in yards per play, but they’re fourth in the percentage of drives that end in points. In other words, they tend to lose play to play and still win drive to drive.
Tennessee is also living by the skin of their teeth. The Titans’ three wins are by a total of six points and they’ve come against three teams that currently have only one win apiece.
The Titans are getting the most out of a team that might not quite seem “undefeated” good.
The Bills, on the other hand, seem very much “undefeated” good. They need to play like it. The Titans are not going to be afraid. They very much have competitive pieces and proved it by making the AFC title game last year. Even with the Allen fourth quarter magic on their side, Tennessee is not the team Buffalo wants to take down to the final play.
Fully healthy and normal, I might pick Tennessee. Derrick Henry is still a stud and gives the Titans a chance to control the pace of the game. Corey Davis and A.J. Brown might be the biggest pair of receivers the Bills face all year and a tough match even for Tre’Davious White. Throw in the very recent playoff pedigree and Mike Vrabel’s crew has all the makings of a team that can give the Bills a big headache.
They still might, but it’s hard to imagine Tennessee finding their way to the type of A-level performance that’s probably required to beat the 2020 Bills. They, very likely, will be without Davis and starting defensive end Jeffrey Simmons. The latter has been one of the few Titans defensive standouts.
I’m a bit concerned if White doesn’t play for the Bills. He’s nursed a back injury all week and is questionable for Tuesday. With Matt Milano already out and Tremaine Edmunds slumping against the pass so far this year, a White absence might leave the Buffalo secondary as porous as ever under McDermott. Forget 30. It might take 40 points to win in that situation.
That’s still probably a worst case scenario. Even if it happens, the Bills are fine as long as Allen and the offense continue pumping out top five performances. There’s little danger of that not happening this week. The new Bills continue to make history with the first Tuesday win in franchise history. Give me the Bills 33-23 (My Buffalo Kickoff Live pick is 30-28, but that was locked in long before we knew how the week would go).