Written by: Joseph Yun
The COVID19 wracked Tennessee Titans are set to do battle with fellow undefeated and upstart Buffalo Bills. Can the Titans muster up enough forces to properly engage the always boisterous and legendary #BillsMafia? It has been a dramatic time period for the Titans as they are in a whirlwind of controversy regarding the COVID19 outbreak in their ranks.
This article and future weekly articles were written with the assistance of the Blitzalytics Prospect Encyclopedia, which you can buy a PDF or hard cover copy here. The Encyclopedia has many features such as prospects, top team stars, and other countless data points to expand knowledge of the game.
Note: all numbers courtesy of profootballreference.com
Key Numbers + Info (2020 season)
Record: 4-0 (2-0 AFC East)
Points scored: 123
Points allowed: 100
Avg. yards per rush: 3.7
Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.4
Avg. rush yards per game: 93.5
Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 101
Rushing TDs: 4 for, 4 against
Avg. pass yards per game: 316.25
Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 280.25
Passing TDs: 12 for, 7 against
Pass Completion Rate: 71%
Pass Completion Rate Against: 68%
Top rusher: Devin Singletary (50 carries for 213 yards and one touchdown)
Top receiver: Stefon Diggs (26 receptions for 403 yards and two touchdowns)
Top tackler: Jordan Poyer (34 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced
Key Additions: WR Stefon Diggs, DE Mario Addison, DT Vernon Butler, CB Josh Norman, DE Quinton Jefferson, DE AJ Epenesa (rookie), RB Zack Moss (rookie), K Tyler Bass (rookie)
Key Losses: LB Lorenzo Alexander (retired), DT Star Lotuleilei (Opt-out), EJ Gaines (Opt-out), DE Shaq Lawson, DT Jordan Phillips, LB Matt Milano (injury), CB Levi Wallace (injury)
Tennessee leads the all-time series 28-19-0
What Happened In the Last Game?
The series between the two “rivals” is full of memorable games but last year was a defensive slog that resulted in a Bills 14-7 quagmire of a victory. Neither offense played all that well.
Keys to a Titans Victory
- Circle the wagons - The team has been under a tremendous amount of criticism throughout the league and in the media for the positive tests. Can coach Mike Vrabel rally the troops and come out with a victory with a limited roster? The Titans have said very little publicly other than the standard boilerplate answers about the issues but have to be seething at the level of the firestorm. Can they use the motivation to take down a potential red hot MVP candidate?
- Win the perimeter - Tennessee will be short-handed in the secondary as Malcolm Butler is playing hurt and Adoree Jackson is still on injured reserve. Not to mention promising rookie corner Kristian Fulton on the COVID reserve list. Not a good sign with one of the best receivers in the league on deck and a quarterback who can’t miss lately. Even worse, the receiver room will be severely weakened with A.J. Brown listed as questionable, Adam Humphries, Cameron Batson, and Corey Davis on the COVID19 list. That leaves tight end Jonnu Smith and receiver Kalif Raymond as the leading lights for QB Ryan Tannehill against a talented Bills secondary featuring outstanding but injured Tre’Davious White, reborn Josh Norman, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde. Buckle up, folks, it’s going to get ugly.
- Establish the Run - With so many offensive weapons out due to injury or COVID implications, it would be a good time to get Derrick Henry rolling once more against a stout but beatable Bills run defense. Complicating matters is that Henry’s preferred fullback Khari Blasingame is also on the COVID list. Henry will have to be on fire from the jump in order for the Titans to have a chance. Good news, Ed Oliver is but one man, and star linebacker Matt Milano is out. Bad news, Oliver is really freaking good and Tremaine Edmunds is the next superstar linebacker.
Keys to a Bills Victory
- Expose the Titans already weak secondary - So, the Titans will be forced to start a clearly hurt Butler, over the hill Jonathan Joseph, and still learning UDFA rookie Chris Jackson. Good luck, Tennessee. Can Kevin Byard play corner? Allen will be a lock for Canton by the end of this game if not MVP at the pace this game is going.
- RUN THE BALL - The Titans won’t have emerging star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons as he’s also on the COVID list. Star linebackers Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans, and Jadaveon Clowney have been hit or miss. The good news is that key asset DaQuan Jones is back from the aforementioned virus list and rookie Larell Murchinson has been quietly improving with increased reps. Still, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss (if healthy) will eat quite well against an abjectly horrid Tennessee run defense if Allen doesn’t get to them first.
Blitzalytics Prospect Encyclopedia Prospect of the Week
10. WR Gabriel Davis
- While it would have been tempting to put Singletary here in this spot, he’s sort of broken out already into a serviceable back if not an outright star. Davis has stealthily emerged as a reliable WR4 option with WR3 upside for Allen. It’s true that he won’t get the volume of a Diggs, Beasley, or even a John Brown, he does well with the targets that he does get. He won’t wow statistically but will likely be good for a standout game or two as we progress into the season.
What are the odds?
There have been no odds posted on any of the major books as of press time, due to the Titans being a hot mess. The books will likely post some odds closer to kickoff.
BUFFALO 35 Tennessee 17