Fresh off a dominating 31-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Buffalo Bills head home to take on a hungry Titans team that is looking to make up for a surprising Week 1 loss to the New York Giants.
Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)
- Location: Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, NY
- Time: Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN/ESPN2
- Spread: BUF -10
- Over/Under: 47.5 points
- Moneyline odds: BUF -480, TEN +360
After dominating the Los Angeles Rams defense, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs and company will look to keep the momentum going against Derrick Henry and the Titans. But are those the only players and storylines worth watching?
Can the Bills stop Derrick Henry without Ed Oliver?
This is undoubtedly the biggest storyline in the game. Earlier in the week, we discussed Derrick Henry’s success in the past against the Bills, and how the Bills rebuilt their defensive line to be able to combat that. Well, the rebuilt defensive line will be challenged now that Ed Oliver has been ruled out and Tim Settle is doubtful for the contest.
That will put a lot of pressure on DaQuan Jones and Jordan Phillips, and also Brandin Bryant, who will likely be called up from the practice squad to take Oliver’s place. They will have to win their one-on-one battles against the interior of the Titans’ offensive line, which struggled against the Giants in Week 1. Whichever group can get the more consistent push up front will likely determine the outcome of the game since it’s unlikely the Titans will upset the Bills unless Derrick Henry has a huge day.
Aside from just the defensive tackles, Buffalo will need a good performance from middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. If the defensive line can hold their blockers, Edmunds will need to identify the run and will the gaps to bring down Henry. The young former first-rounder has been inconsistent in his career and is often blocked out of run plays when lineman can get to the second level. That can’t happen on Monday if the Bills want to secure a win.
How Will the Bills Manage Their RB Rotation?
Both Zack Moss and James Cook both fumbled in games-to-forget during the opener against the Rams. As a result, Buffalo was using Josh Allen a lot on designed runs in the fourth quarter. They can’t continue to do that when they have leads if they want to make it through the season. That means one of Moss or Cook is going to need to step up.
The Bills have shown over the years that, while they like Devin Singletary, they are never going to treat him as a workhorse back. He will absolutely remain a key part of the offense on Monday, but Moss either needs to emerge as a between-the-tackles grinder or Cook needs to show that he truly is that big-play threat.
I think the matchup favors Cook on the edges and in the passing game, but he needs to earn the coaches’ trust again. If the Bills can successfully use their rotation of running backs to take some pressure off of Josh Allen, it could raise the performance of this offense which, despite the win, was inconsistent last week with four turnovers against the Rams.
Which Titans Wide Receiver Steps Up?
The Titans lost the star of their passing game when they traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles, but they have three intriguing names to watch on Monday night. The first is veteran, and former Bill, Robert Woods. Coming off an ACL tear, Woods didn’t do a lot last Sunday and was actually outperformed by rookie first-round pick Treylon Burks, who had 55 yards receiving in a reserve role.
Burks is a big, physical receiver in the mold of Brown, and the Bills have some weakness on the boundaries with Dane Jackson starting opposite a rotation of rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford. The Bills used a lot of zone to protect the rookies last week, but the Titans will surely be looking to exploit them if they can. Will it be with Woods or with the more physical Burks?
The Titans also have an impressive rookie slot receiver in Kyle Phillips, but Taron Johnson patrols the slot for the Bills and is one of the better nickel corners in the league, so the Bills would hope that matchup wouldn’t be a concern for him.
Will Gabriel Davis play?
A late addition to this article, but Gabe Davis was limited in practice on Saturday with an ankle injury and is not questionable to play. He practiced all week, so he obviously tweaked something at practice. Just how bad it is, nobody will know for sure until warm-ups.
Buffalo obviously hopes Davis can go, and this Titans secondary has some talent, so him missing the game would be a major blow. It would likely mean more Dawson Knox and Isaiah McKenzie moving to the outside with Jameson Crowder being even more involved in the slot. It would also likely mean the NFL debut of Bills 5th-round pick Khalil Shakir.
UPDATE: GABE DAVIS HAS BEEN RULED OUT AND KHALIL SHAKIR WILL BE ACTIVE FOR THE GAME.
We covered Treylon Burks above, so taking him over 27.5 receiving yards just makes sense here. I also think Isaiah McKenzie over 26.5 yards receiving makes sense with Gabe Davis potentially banged up and just based on McKenzie’s ability to make defenders miss in man-to-man situations.
I also like Josh Allen over 22.5 completions. Allen has become super efficient and the Bills figure to throw a fair bit in this game, so if he throws 30-35 times, I can’t see him not hitting on 23 of them.