The Titans had a tall task last week and rose to the occasion, beating the defending world champion Philadelphia Eagles in overtime 26-23. With that win, the Titans made a statement to the rest of the NFL that maybe they will be more of a contender than people really thought they were. The next step in becoming a contender is beating the teams you are supposed to and next up on the schedule is the Buffalo Bills. The other team that represents the state of New York is starting a rookie at quarterback and they are still trying to find out who they are. What would be great for the Titans is to win this one convincingly, but no one knows how this team will handle success. Whether they handle it well or not is one thing, but here are six things they must do in order to extend their winning streak to four games.
1) Who’s running?
The run game has been stuck in neutral for a couple week now. Against the Bills, who are the 12th-ranked run defense, things will more than likely not come easy. Sooner or later, the Titans are going to have to get something from the run game. Assuming they can get up early, the Bills could be susceptible to giving up big runs and potentially allowing Derrick Henry to close out the game in style like he did a few times last year. If they get up early, look for a little bit of bludgeon ball to come back from last season.
2) Jonnu Smith where are you?
The Titans have not gotten much out of the tight end position since Delanie Walker went down with a season-ending injury in game one. He has been quiet all season long, but it’s time for Jonnu Smith to show how good he can be. In this game, he gives Titans fans a glimpse into what he can do as he makes key plays. Look for him to finally step into the spotlight some. And for some Titans fans, maybe they will ease up off him with the criticism after this one.
3) Time on the Titans side
Time of possession is a big thing in games. Over the last three games, the Titans have won the time of possession and won three straight games. In this game, the same things need to hold true. The Titans must keep the ball and put together solid drives to keep pressure on the Bills and to make the game shorter for themselves. The more they are able to do this, the more they can force Buffalo in to mistakes offensively.
1) Pressure busts pipes
The Titans have been bringing pressure, especially with Harold Landry off the edge. He definitely has to be a factor in this game, but if the Titans defensive coordinator has been paying attention, then pressure up the middle is what he needs to bring. Bills quarterback Josh Allen has not dealt well with pressure right in his face. If the Titans are able to disrupt him from all angles especially right in front of him, then it could be a long day for the rookie.
2) No big plays
The defense has been solid, but one thing has hurt them in the last couple of weeks. The big play, especially in the passing game, has happened to them a few times. So far, they have been able to overcome the big plays, but it isn’t always going to be like that. The Titans secondary must communicate and make sure to be on the same page in order to eliminate those things from happening. The less life the Titans can give the Bills, the better.
3) From Shady to invisible
LeSean McCoy is still a weapon the Bills can look to in order to make plays happen. In the passing game he can be a weapon, but where the Titans must stop him first is the running game. The more Tennessee is able to stymy Shady there, the more the game is on the shoulders of Allen. If that happens, it means the Titans will have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the rookie. Those odds sound real nice with the inexperience of Allen.
The Titans go from underdogs to prohibited favorites in one week. Can they handle the additional attention and pats on the back they have been receiving all week against the Bills? We shall indeed see.
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