First off, apologies for running late with this post, and the injury report last night. The bye week completely threw me off. As we get back into the swing of things, we will take a look at some of the key matchups between the Titans and the Bills. While this isn't necessarily a "must win" for the Titans, it is certainly a very important game. A win will get the team back to .500 with only home games until November. It should also raise the team's confidence after two very tough losses.
Reasons for Confidence: Middle of the field, Injuries, Tyrod Taylor's arm
Middle of the Field: While the Bills defense is very talented nearly across the board, their weakness is in the middle of the field. Teams that have beaten them have attacked with quick passes across the middle. The linebackers have been struggling in coverage, and the safeties have taken some hits on the injury front. If the Titans can protect Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker should have a big day, and Kendall Wright should be able to make some plays in space.
Injuries: As we will see this week with the rest of the injury reports, these two teams are in very different places from an injury perspective. The Titans are getting very healthy, getting back two key starters in Chance Warmack and Jason McCourty. On the other hand, the Bills are missing multiple key starters, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There is a very real chance that they could be missing Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, LeSean McCoy, and Karlos Williams on Sunday. This will put a lot of Tyrod Taylor, who can make plays with his legs, but has not shown that he can beat teams through the air yet. If anything, he has started to slow down recently.
Tyrod Taylor: As I mentioned, teams want Tyrod Taylor to beat them through the air. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has simplified things for him, and while we have seen before with Dowell Loggains and Jake Locker, it can be effective in September, but as time goes on, teams start to catch on. Taylor started off hot, but has slowed down a little bit recently. With the Bills missing many key offensive players, don't be surprised if more is put on Taylor. The Titans' defense must take advantage.
Reasons for Concern: Tyrod Taylor's legs, Run Defense, Bills' Defensive Backs
Tyrod Taylor: At the risk of contradicting myself, I believe that it's safe to say that there are parts of Tyrod Taylor's game that are concerning. The Titans struggled with keeping Johnny Manziel in the pocket, and Taylor can make just as many, if not more plays with his legs. If the Titans let him break the pocket, he will be more comfortable, and we could see some of the same problems that we saw in Cleveland.
Run Defense: Another week, another mention of run defense as a concern. Brian Orakpo specializes in setting the edge, however Derrick Morgan has been struggling against the run. Most of the Colts' success on the ground came when running to his side. Morgan and the whole Titan defense must stop the run early, and force Tyrod Taylor into throwing the ball 30+ times. As mentioned earlier, the Bills will likely be missing their top two rushers in LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams, so the Titans may be catching a break. However, this will still be a concern each week until fully proven otherwise.
Bills' Defensive Backs: The Bills have two very good cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. Like the Browns, this defense has the ability to man up on the Titans receivers, which would enable them to send the house. The Titans struggled a lot with this two weeks ago, and the wide receivers will have to step up on Sunday and win some of these matchups in order to get the offense moving.
Looking at the matchups, this reminds me a lot of the Browns game. The Bills have a very strong secondary, a complex defensive scheme, and a quarterback that can make plays with his legs. This should show whether or not this Titans team is growing. If they look good, it shows that they have made the proper adjustments since week 2, and won't make the same mistakes twice. As previously mentioned this is a very big game for the Titans. If they can take advantage of some of these matchups, they should be in good shape.
Prediction: Like the Titans, I made some adjustments over the bye week. From now on, I will post my prediction for the game at the end of each post. Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows all about my relationship with predictions. That being said, I'm expecting a win this week. Titans win, 24-13.