For the fifth consecutive season, the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans will face each other during the NFL’s regular season. DraftKings Sportsbook have the Bills as whopping 10-point favorites. It’s the first time in four years they’ve played in Orchard Park and it’s the Bills’ home opener on Monday night. It’s going to be electric.
We invited the curiously unnamed SB Nation blog for the Titans to weigh in on some questions, and Jimmy Morris obliged.
1. In 2022, the Titans started off with a loss to the New York Giants. What happened in that game that caused the defeat?
It was a combination of a few things. On defense they couldn’t stop the run. They gave up 238 yards on the group. Saquon Barkley had 164 of those yards on 18 carries. One of those carries went for 68 yards and featured some bad tackling.
They also gave up a 65-yard touchdown to Sterling Shepard where Kristian Fulton got caught using lazy technique according to Titans DC Shane Bowen.
With that being said, they had a shot to win the game at the end but Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired. That final drive featured some questionable play-calling and timeout usage. The play-calling was bad overall on the day with just one example being the Titans tried a TE end-around on a 3rd and 1 instead of handing the ball to Derrick Henry.
2. What’s the weak spot of the Titans’ defense that can be exploited by Buffalo’s offense?
I wouldn’t have said the run defense before last week, but that has to be at the top of the list after what we saw on Sunday. The Titans were excellent against the run last year, so hopefully, that was just the case of some Week 1 rustiness against a really good running back.
The secondary is another place to keep an eye on. Fulton didn’t practice Thursday or Friday with a hamstring injury. Even with the mistake he made against NY, he is their best corner. If he isn’t able to go they will be forced to use 2021 first-round pick Caleb Farley and 2022 second-round pick Roger McCrary on the outside and Ugo Amadi in the slot.
3. Derrick Henry had an explosive run against the Bills a year ago as part of another nice day for him. Is he back to full strength following his injury and how did the run game show up in Week 1?
Henry is reportedly back at full strength. He didn’t look great against the Giants, but he has traditionally been a slow starter. His career YPC by month is as follows:
September - 4.0
October - 4.3
November - 5.6
December - 5.5
January - 6.4
We know how the aging curve looks for running backs. Henry is on the wrong side of that curve, but if anyone can buck that trend it will be the King.
4. How will the Titans’ passing attack generate offense without A.J. Brown?
That’s a good question. They traded for Robert Woods, drafted Treylon Burks in the first round, and Kyle Philips in the 5th round. Those guys combined for 10 catches for 134 yards on Sunday with Philips having 6-66. They also upgraded the TE room. The jury is still out on whether or not that will be enough.
I do like what they have in those guys, but it is likely going to take some time for it to come together with Woods coming off a torn ACL and two rookies. The plan on offense is always going to be for it to go through Henry, but they will need those guys to gel if they want to really be a Super Bowl contender.
5. The Titans are a double-digit underdog for the first time since the 2019 season, per DraftKings Sportsbook. What’s the blueprint for their win on Monday?
They have to pressure Josh Allen and force him to turn the ball over a couple of times. They will also need another performance from Derrick Henry like they got from him last year against the Bills when he went for 143 yards on 20 carries. Of course, you will remember that 74 of those yards came on one carry.
Morris added “Also, it was a lateral” but there was no corresponding question.