For the second week in a row the Bills will face a team that has the benefit of a few extra days of rest and preparation after playing on Thursday night. Unlike the Cardinals, who were coming off their worst showing of the year, the Titans are attempting to ride the momentum of their best game this season. Heres a quick look at how the Titans have performed on both sides of the ball:
23rd in point scored, averaging 19 points per game
32nd in rushing yards (26th in yards per carry with 3.7 yds/carry)
11th in passing yards (26th in yards per completion with 6.6 yds/pass)
6 INT, 11 sacks (4/6 INT's and 8/11 sacks have come against Matt Hasselback)
32nd in points allowed, surrendering an average of 34 points per game
24th in rushing yards allowed (16th in yards per carry with 4.0 yards/carry)
28th in passing yards (27th in yards per completion, 32nd in completion percentage)
4 INT, 8 sacks
Offensively the Titans run a system that revolves around short, quick passes. There passing yardage is inflated by a lot of attempts while playing from behind, but they did post 290 last week in a winning effort. They have 3 quality WR's (Britt, Wright, Washington) and athletic TE (Cook). The QB the Bills will face is has played 3 games in which he has been prone to turnovers (4 INT, 2 FUM). He also has been sacked more often than Locker (8 times in 3 games), although it's still just an average amount. In 3 games, Hasselback has averages 230 yards per game (61% completion) with 4 TD and 4 INT. The running game has been completely non-existent in all but 2 games, in which Chris Johnson has rushed for 147 and 90 yards. Ironically, the best rushing efforts came against two strong defenses in Pittsburgh and Houston. The team has only two rushes of 20+ yards on the season, although CJ2K has big play potential and has had a lot of success against the Bills in the past.
Defensively, the Titans have arguably the leagues worst secondary as they have given up yards in chunks and allow opposing QB's to complete a very high percent of attempted passes. The rush defense has given up a lot of yards playing from behind, but are pretty average in terms of yards per carry. They don't generate a lot of sacks or turnovers, but this could also be largely a result of playing from behind so often.
The Bills will be fine this week if they don't try to do too much.
1) Play it safe on offense. Win the field position battle early and trust that the offense will break through a weak defense with big runs and runs-after-the-catch as the game progresses.
2) Play physical on defense. Play aggressive on the outside to disrupt the short passing game.
3) Play run-first football and ease into the passing game as needed. The throwing lanes will be there, but Fitz has not played his best football as of late and has been missing open receivers consistently. Use the formula against KC and Cleveland and make things easier on Fitz by getting the run game going early and letting him slowly work into a rythem.
Beating an inferior team really just comes down to playing fundamentally sound football. They have shown that they will roll over when they fall behind. This is a team that we should beat if we come out strong on defense and protect the football. The offense will come- the key will be to keep theirs from getting going early. The teams that played good defense early against the Titans won easily. Pittsburgh let Hasselback get into a ryhtem with the short passing game early, and it opened up running lanes and seams down the field as the game progresses. This team doesn't have a great OL and doesn't run the ball very effectively early in the game. They also don't try to do too much down the field until the open things up underneath. The key to stopping them will be keeping that short passing game from getting going, and consequently we should be able to keep the run game in check, especially if we can find a rhythem on offense and get some points on the board.