The Buffalo Bills earned a statement win against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, defeating the defending Super Bowl champions 31-10 on the road. Buffalo was flat-out dominant in all facets of the game and will look to earn a second consecutive victory in front of the Bills Mafia in their home opener on Monday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have been a thorn in the Bills’ side during the last few years and the two teams have played tough against one another. Tennessee beat Buffalo in a Monday night thriller last season, and these four matchups will be critical to a win for both sides.
Bills D vs Titans RB Derrick Henry
This weekly piece is typically looking at individual player-versus-player matchups, but the entire Bills’ defense will need to be ready to contain Tennesee’s superstar running back, Derrick Henry if they want to come away with a win. Henry ran all over Buffalo last year, gashing them for 143 yards and three scores on the ground.
Henry is a big, powerful back and if he gets any sort of momentum in the open field, there’s almost no chance for a defender to bring down the 6-foot-3, 247-pound freight train.
But in the Titan’s Week 1 loss to the New York Giants, Henry was limited to just 82 yards on 21 carries. Without any proven playmakers at the skill positions, Tennessee’s offense isn’t as scary as it was a year ago. Buffalo will certainly stack the box freely and look to make the Titans one-dimensional on offense, now that A.J. Brown isn’t there as a dominant receiving threat.
The Bills’ defensive line was utterly dominant against Los Angeles. They notched seven sacks and countless pressures, but the run defense was equally impressive. The Rams mustered just 52 yards on 18 carries, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry – including an 18-yard rush by Darrel Henderson.
Buffalo will need to rely on their strong rotation throughout their front four, as Tennessee will be leaning on Henry to slow the game down and keep Josh Allen off the field.
Bills LG Rodger Saffold, RG Ryan Bates vs. Titans DT Jeffery Simmons
Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons might be the most underrated player in the NFL. Coming off a season in which he tallied 54 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks along with 66 pressures, the Mississippi State alum has emerged as a dominant force that offenses absolutely need to account for on every snap.
Simmons kicked off the 2022 season in his typical fashion, notching six tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and four hurries, along with four total stops and two tackles against the run at an average depth of -1.5 yards. The Bills’ offensive line did a solid job in Week 1 against Aaron Donald and will need to continue that trend in Week 2.
Buffalo is familiar with Simmons, who exposed the lack of talent on the Bills’ interior offensive line last year with a two-sack performance, but this year’s offensive line looks rather different.
New left guard Rodger Saffold played well in his Bills debut, allowing just one hurry in pass protection. Against his former team, Saffold will be relied upon to anchor down against Simmons and bring his nasty, physical presence in the run game. Right guard Ryan Bates struggled against Donald, getting beaten for a sack and another three pressures.
Simmons will undoubtedly make plays on Monday night, but Buffalo must limit his impact if they want to enjoy another explosive offensive performance as they did one week ago.
Bills DE Von Miller vs. Titans LT Taylor Lewan
Bills fans couldn’t have asked for a more impressive debut than Von Miller’s Week 1 performance. Miller finished the game with four tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and four total pressures. The 33-year-old showed ridiculous burst, bend, and power in his 35 defensive snaps, providing a glimpse of just how impactful his addition will prove to be for the entire defensive line.
The majority of Miller’s Week 1 reps came against a first-year starter in Rams left tackle Joe Noteboom. This week, Miller has a bigger challenge as he’ll primarily line up against veteran three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan. When healthy, there aren’t many linemen better than the 6-foot-7 Michigan product. He’s got incredible length and athleticism that allows him to mirror and anchor against a variety of pass rushers, while possessing power and balance that makes him a pretty impressive force in the run game.
We know that Von Miller is one of the league’s most ferocious pass rushers, but against a team like Tennessee that will lean on the run game, Miller needs to step up as a multidimensional player and prove why Brandon Beane awarded him a $100-plus million contract.
Bills WR Stefon Diggs vs. Titans CB’s Roger McCreary, Kristian Fulton
After torching Jalen Ramsey, one of the NFL’s most talented cornerbacks, for eight catches, 122 yards, and one touchdown on nine targets, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs will face off against two young players in Titans cornerbacks Roger McCreary and Kristian Fulton. Fulton, a 2020 second-round draft pick, had a strong 2021 campaign, forcing 14 incompletions while allowing a 50.7-percent completion rate when targeted. However, Fulton has been susceptible to big plays, as he allowed a 15.8 yards-per-reception average. Fulton plays all of his snaps on the right side of the Titans’ defense, so he’ll see Stefon Diggs on about one-third of his routes.
Opposite Fulton is rookie second-round draft pick, Roger McCreary, a talented defender out of Auburn. McCreary was targeted just once in his NFL debut, allowing a single catch for five yards. McCreary was a highly touted prospect after an impressive senior year in which he allowed just 45.3-percent of his targets to be completed while breaking up 13 passes.
Diggs is one of the league’s most outstanding receivers and showed off a stunning skill set against the Rams. Diggs got insane separation, made contested catches and ran crisp routes while showing great chemistry with Josh Allen. He’ll put pressure on both McCreary and Fulton and will be a big part of Buffalo’s game plan on offense.