The Buffalo Bills will travel to Nashville for the third straight season to face the Tennessee Titans on the road. With Monday night’s matchup, Buffalo and Tennessee will have actually met in four consecutive seasons, as the Titans played in Orchard Park back in 2018. Buffalo won tight battles in 2018 (13-12) and 2019 (14-7) before being blown out in a COVID-delayed contest last year. Tennessee won 42-16.
Obviously, the Bills want to stay hot and avoid the kind of demoralizing loss that they suffered at the hands of the Titans last season. In order to do that, they’ll need some strong performances from their key players.
Here are our players to watch this week.
RB Zack Moss
After serving as a healthy scratch in Week 1, Moss has gradually overtaken Devin Singletary as the main player in the backfield. Singletary played on 75 percent of the offensive snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his snap share has dropped each week. He bottomed out at 26 percent of the snaps last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Moss, on the other hand, went from playing just 25 percent of the snaps in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins to appearing on 74 percent of the snaps last week. Moss is averaging 5.1 yards per touch, and he’s scored four touchdowns and fumbled once in 54 touches. The Titans are used to defending a punishing runner in practice in Derrick Henry, but if Moss can find some space, it will open up another way in which Buffalo’s high-powered offense can beat teams. If he can contribute in the screen game, especially, the Bills could open up another double-digit lead and victory.
WR Cole Beasley
Sure, he was essentially phased out of the game plan last week, as Beasley played on just 22 offensive snaps. He only saw two targets, and he made one catch for five yards. That came one week after he caught the only two targets he saw for 16 yards against the Houston Texans. Beasley’s usage has been less consistent this year than it was in his two prior years with the team, but that’s because the receiving corps as a whole is better. Dawson Knox has stepped up and he needs to be on the field. Gabriel Davis, who has also been used far less than he was last year, is talented and needs reps. Emmanuel Sanders has been explosive, as has Stefon Diggs. Against the Washington Football Team, Beasley was targeted 13 times, and he made 11 receptions for 98 yards. Why did he see all those targets? Because Washington focused on stopping other players. The Titans are currently allowing 7.5 net yards per pass attempt. They’re the No. 21 ranked pass defense in the league. The Titans have allowed eight passing touchdowns to opposing receivers, and they’ve allowed a pair of teammates to go for over 90 yards in a game twice. I’m thinking that Cole reaps the benefits here.
DT Star Lotulelei
Derrick Henry is a beast. Last year, he ran for just 57 yards against the Bills, but he punched in two rushing touchdowns and executed a crazy stiff-arm that sent Josh Norman into another dimension. Buffalo’s best defensive tackle this year has been Lotulelei, who opted out last year due to the coronavirus. If he can keep eating double teams and penetrating into the opposing backfield, he’ll wreak havoc on Tennessee’s offensive plans.
LB A.J. Klein
Whether Matt Milano can play or not, Klein is a sure bet to see more playing time this week, as the Titans run plenty of heavier fronts to complement Henry’s punishing running style and quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s talent in play-action passing. Even if Milano plays, the Bills will probably give him fewer reps than normal, so Klein should see an uptick in work. He was good last week against the Chiefs, playing on 63 percent of the defensive snaps and making nine tackles on the night. He’s still a liability in coverage, so if he’s stuck working on tight end Anthony Firkser, Buffalo could be in trouble; however, Firkser is no Jonnu Smith, so Buffalo could luck out in that regard. Klein will need to put together another solid game in both run support and pass defense.
CB Levi Wallace
I write this often, but it’s worth mentioning again here: Buffalo struggles against big, physical wideouts, and it’s due in part because they have smaller defensive backs. While Tre’Davious White plays bigger than his 5’11” frame would suggest, Wallace does not typically play well against bigger foes. He’ll either be lined up across from A.J. Brown, who is built an awful lot like former Bills and Titans wideout Eric Moulds (Brown is listed at 6’1” and 226 lbs, while Moulds was listed at 6’2” and 210 lbs) or Julio Jones, who is 6’3” and 220 lbs. Wallace will need to play physical in order to match up, but at 6’ and 179 lbs, he’s at a distinct disadvantage.