BY LOUIE GENOVESE, SPORTS STAFFER
After destroying the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, the Buffalo Bills face the Tennessee Titans in their Orchard Park debut on Monday Night Football.
While the Bills were only favored by a -2 spread against the Rams, they are now favored -10, according to CBS NFL. The Titans are looking to regain their footing after losing 21-20 against the New York Giants after kicker Randy Bullock missed a game-winning field goal.
Since 2018, the Bills and the Titans have an even score with each other. Buffalo defeated Tennessee in 2018 and 2019; Tennessee defeated Buffalo in 2020 and 2021. Their 2021 matchup in week 6 resulted in the Titans winning 34-31 after Bills quarterback Josh Allen failed to convert on fourth down with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Part of that loss came from Buffalo’s defense failing to contain Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, who had 143 rushing yards on 20 touches and three touchdowns. Two weeks later, Henry suffered a Jones fracture that would sideline him for the rest of the season, although he did play in the Titans’ playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals where he only had 62 yards on 20 attempts and one touchdown.
The Bills rush defense needs to be able to restrict Henry (although he only had rushing 82 yards on 21 attempts against the Giants) . Last week they only allowed rushing 52 yards on 18 attempts from the Rams. The pass rush also has to put pressure on Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill after not sacking him once during their 2021 matchup and take advantage of the departure of key receiver A.J. Brown. However, the front seven took a hit with defensive tackle Ed Oliver being ruled out due to an ankle injury.
And it’s not just the defense, the Bills No. 2 receiver Gabriel Davis also suffered an ankle injury, this time last Saturday. He has been listed as questionable as of now, but NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo believes it seems more doubtful. If the Bills rule out Davis, it will give the Titans defense a better opportunity to limit No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs with double coverage.
However, Tennessee’s secondary will be down its no. 1 cornerback Kristian Fulton, who suffered aa hamstring injury. The secondary allowed 156 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Giants while DB Amani Hooker recorded an interception.
For Buffalo, this gives opportunities for receivers like Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie and Jake Kumerow to step up and provide support if Allen finds Diggs struggling in double coverage.
The results of this game will depend on how Henry performs and how the Bills can contain him. It will also depend on the supporting cast if Davis is ruled out. Either way, the first of two matchups on Monday Night Football will be a big one as the Bills debut in front of their Bills Mafia fan base.
Prediction: Bills win 28-14
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