Allegedly, the Buffalo Bills will play against the Tennessee Titans this Tuesday evening. This is very much in doubt, of course, thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak ravaging the Titans’ organization right now. Between reported lax social distancing and PPE usage at the facility and a confirmed series of workouts that occurred after the NFL forbid such activities, Tennessee is a bit of a hot mess right now.
The Bills, on the other hand, have done a great job managing distractions and remaining prepared to play throughout the season’s first month. With Buffalo sitting at 4-0, a matchup with a 3-0 Tennessee squad will be one of the better games on the Week 5 slate if it’s played.
There are plenty of players worth watching this weekend—I’d write about every person on Buffalo’s roster if I could, because let’s face it, we all want to see a game!—but here are the five we’re focusing on this week.
QB Josh Allen
The MVP-hype train is rolling along, and Allen finds himself among the top three candidates by most accounts so far. Along with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, Allen has been among the league’s best quarterbacks through the first quarter of the 2020 season. After injuring his non-throwing shoulder last week against the Las Vegas raiders, Allen returned to the game and continued to play well, finishing with 282 yards passing and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Allen has been accurate and poised thus far, and while the Titans’ defense is a tough matchup, there’s no telling which players will actually be available if the game happens as scheduled on Tuesday. He could see a defense down Kamalei Correa, DaQuan Jones, Jeffery Simmons, Kristian Fulton, Greg Mabin, Malcolm Butler, Jadeveon Clowney, and Chris Jackson. The final three players appear on Tennessee’s injury report for the week, and the first five all have tested positive for COVID-19. Allen could be facing a slew of backups on Tuesday night, and he could have a field day as a result.
WR Gabriel Davis
The rookie has turned some heads early in the season, making the most of his limited opportunities by catching all eight of his targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Davis has been a sneaky-good deep threat in the early going, as teams have focused on the pure speed of teammates John Brown and Stefon Diggs, leaving Davis in plus matchups down the field. With Brown dealing with a calf injury that he seemed to aggravate in practice on Thursday, Davis could be in line for extra snaps this week. Some of those snaps could go to speedy Isaiah McKenzie, as well, or the veteran option Andre Roberts, but Davis has shown since training camp that he is pro-ready. Most importantly, the rookie has his quarterback’s trust, as well—so it’s not a stretch to imagine Davis having a big game if Brown can’t go. Even if Brown plays, Davis should continue to produce steady, solid numbers.
G Quinton Spain
The big fella will probably start this week after Brian Winters suffered a knee injury last week. Spain opened the year as Buffalo’s starter at left guard after playing nearly every snap there last season. He was benched midway through the second game this season against the Miami Dolphins, did not play against the Los Angeles Rams, and entered at right guard against the Raiders after Winters was injured. Spain began his career with the Titans, so the big, nasty road grader will have a little extra incentive to play well should his number be called this week.
LB Tyrel Dodson
Last week, when Matt Milano exited with a pectoral injury, it was the second-year man Dodson who played in nickel packages along with Tremaine Edmunds. Veteran A.J. Klein was used as a base/goal line package linebacker only, and for good reason—Klein is quite limited in coverage, and Dodson is the superior athlete. With Milano expected to miss the game this week, Dodson should see more opportunities. The Titans may try to exploit his youth and inexperience, but Dodson has played well in limited action thus far this season. He has 14 tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and one sack this year on 110 defensive snaps.
CB Josh Norman
The veteran corner made his Bills debut last week, and he did not disappoint. Appearing on 67 snaps, or 91% of the team’s total, Norman allowed three completions on four targets, but only 20 passing yards in total. He made four tackles, one of which went for a loss, and then he came up with a huge turnover by forcing a Darren Waller fumble that he also recovered. Norman provided a big boost to Buffalo’s defense, and he’ll be tested again this week. Levi Wallace, who injured his ankle against Las Vegas, was placed on Injured Reserve, so the Bills will rely on Norman to play a healthy number of snaps on Tuesday like they did last Sunday. Hopefully, Norman is up to the challenge two weeks in a row.