BUFFALO BILLS (2-2-0) VS. TENNESSEE TITANS (2-1-0)
OCTOBER 11TH 2015
NISSAN STADIUM – CAPACITY 69,143
KICK-OFF: 1:00 PM
RADIO: WGR 550 AM
Outlook: Buffalo strolls into Nashville after its second deflating loss of the season. Like its first defeat at the hands of New England in week 2, the NY Giants loss came down to undisciplined penalties and an inability to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.
Enter week 5, Rex Ryan has been known to feast on rookie QB’s and the Titans feature the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Marcus Mariota. Through four weeks Mariota has thrown for 833 YDS, 8 TD’s and 2 INT’s. Kendall Wright has been the biggest beneficiary catching 13 passes and scoring two touchdowns.
They use three running backs in Bishop Sankey, Dexter McCluster and Antonio Andrews. McCluster is very dangerous in the open field.
The Titans are playing damn near healthy, only CB Jason McCourty appeared on the injury report and he’s listed as probable.
The Bills on the other hand have an entire floor worth of hobbled players and several of them are highly skilled individuals. RB LeSean McCoy will miss his 2nd consecutive game as he deals with a hamstring injury that has hampered his performance since the preseason. Karlos Williams, the 2nd string RB who has been Buffalo’s top rusher with 272 all-purpose yards and 4 TD’s is OUT for Sunday as he reported concussion symptoms after the loss to the Giants.
Sammy Watkins is officially listed as questionable (calf) but should be back after his one week absence.
Aaron Williams left the Patriots game with a nasty looking neck injury but he should be back in the Bills lineup Sunday, returning to a defense that has not been up to par with the league’s elite. Buffalo was supposed to be one of the more dominant defensive teams entering the 2015 season. Although they had success in week 1 versus the Indianapolis Colts and week 3 versus the Miami Dolphins, they have struggled mightily against Tom Brady and Eli Manning.
Mariota is no Brady or Manning but he has shown a veteran’s poise in the pocket thus far and has a road victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive guru Leslie Frazier. The Titans average 29.7 points per game to Buffalo’s 27.5 and in with one less game played they lead Buffalo in Total Yards with 403.
Ryan and the Bills defense could be in for a long day, especially if Mariota can gain some confidence early. Buffalo’s game plan against Andrew Luck of the Colts was nothing less than perfection. They will need to throw every blitz package up Ryan’s sleeve in order to keep Mariota from developing a rhythm on Sunday. Coming off a bye-week, Mariota had even more time to watch video of Ryan’s schemes against rookie QB’s over the years. (He might have even watched last season’s game between the NY Jets and Minnesota Vikings where another rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater faced Ryan. The rookie torched the Jets defense in OT for an 87 yard winning touchdown pass).
Additionally, the amount of penalties Buffalo has been hit with is beyond absurd. Not to be unexpected from a Rex Ryan coached team, but the yellow flags have had major effects in each comeback attempt. Coupled with poor tackling and a young secondary, the Bills can ill-afford to continue an undisciplined trend. Ryan needs to bring the team together and focus on their emotions.
Tyrod Taylor has played very well in the two Bills wins and below average in the losses. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau might not be as brash as Ryan but he’s one of the most respected coaches in all of football. He’ll have a game plan for Taylor and most likely take advantage of the Bills depleted running attack. “Boobie” Dixon will make the start. He’s no stranger to the Bills backfield but like Williams, he’s still unproven and is known as a downhill runner with limited skills in the receiving game.
TE Charles Clay is listed as probable but will play. He’s Taylor’s No 1 receiver next to WR Percy Harvin. Assuming the Titans will put 8 men in the box, Taylor will rely heavily on these main targets. Having Watkins back on the field will add more twists into Lebeau’s scheme.
The Bills signed free agent kicker Billy Cundiff and wide-receiver Denarius Moore. It is not clear if either will be active for Sunday’s game.
Wolf’s Keys to the Game:
- Win the turnover battle
- Did I mention Discipline
- Let Buffalo beat Themselves with Penalties
- Score Early
- Protect the Football
Wolf’s Prediction: Titans 31-24
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