Weekend Look Ahead

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7 things to watch for in Bills at Titans | Week 5


UPDATE as of 8:59 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

1. Tight games

Close games in the NFL are nothing new. With the sudden explosion in scoring this season one might think some games would be more lopsided, but that has not been the case.

This season 45 games have been one-score affairs in the fourth quarter, tied for third most in league history through Week 4. There have been 21 games in which teams have come back to win or tie after tailing in the fourth quarter, which is tied for second most through Week 4 in league annals.

Three of Buffalo's four wins this season have been decided by seven points or less and in two of them the Bills had to stage fourth-quarter comebacks.

Taking that a step further, two opponents haven't battled as closely as the Bills and Titans have the last five times they've met. The last five meetings between the two clubs have been decided by an average of just over three points per game (3.2).

Three of Buffalo's last four meetings with the Titans have been decided by a single point before last year's game was decided by a touchdown. It should be noted however, that the game likely would've been a lot closer had Tennessee K Cairo Santos not tied for the worst kicking day since the AFL-NFL merger (1970) with a 0-for-4 kicking day.

Here are the last five final score lines between the Bills and Titans.

  • 2011 – Titans 23-17
  • 2012 – Titans 35-34
  • 2015 – Bills 14-13
  • 2017 – Bills 13-12
  • 2019 – Bills 14-7

2. More play action coming

It's a popular trend in the league for passing offenses. The use of play action has many advantages for NFL quarterbacks, but most importantly it helps to create space at the second level by getting linebackers to surge to the line of scrimmage to defend what they believe initially is a run play.

Josh Allen and Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill are two of the more prolific passers off play action fakes. According to Pro Football Focus, Josh Allen leads the NFL in passing yards off play action with 673. Tannehill ranks fourth in the league in passing yards off play action with 452 in just three games played.

It's a big reason why Allen is completing 71 percent of his passes this season with Tannehill not far behind at 67.3 percent. Off play action Tannehill is completing almost 75 percent of his passes and leads the league in yards per completion off play action at 13.3 yards.

3. Century mark

Josh Allen current ranks third in the league in passer rating with a mark of 122.7 behind only Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. The Bills QB has put up a 100 passer rating or higher in each of his first four games.

With a passer rating of 100 or better on Sunday it would mark his fifth consecutive game with a 100-plus passer rating, establishing a new team record.

If he can add two touchdowns to his stat line with a 100-plus passer rating it would be the fourth consecutive road game with a 100-plus passer rating and two passing TDs, tying Jim Kelly for the longest streak in team history.

4. Century mark part 2

Sunday's game will mark the 100th career game for Bills safety Jordan Poyer. Signed to a contract extension earlier this offseason, Poyer has been a stalwart in Buffalo's secondary since his arrival in 2017.

In 2019, Poyer posted his second consecutive 100-tackle season and added five total takeaways with three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Thus far this season, Poyer leads the Bills in tackles with 34 and was ranked second in the league at the safety position after the first quarter of the season by ProFootballFocus.

5. Run Motor Run!

The Bills run game hasn't been something upon which Buffalo's offense has had to rely through the first four games thanks to Josh Allen's passing exploits. But it could be a consideration on Sunday against the Titans.

That's because Tennessee has been unable to stop the run thus far this season with any degree of efficiency. The Titans are giving up an eye-popping 166 yards on the ground.

They've given up almost 500 yards rushing in just three games played (498), and yet they're still 3-0. No NFL team has allowed that many rushing yards in a 3-0 start since the 1979 Dallas Cowboys.

6. Moving on up

Bills head coach Sean McDermott has been all about the process, promoting a daily growth mindset to consistently strive to improve. Buffalo is off to their first 4-0 start since 2008, and McDermott is quietly stacking wins on his head coaching resume.

With a win on Sunday, McDermott would have his 30th win under his belt as Bills head coach, surpassing Wade Phillips for the fourth most in team history.

The only Bills head coaches ahead of him on the all-time win list would be Chuck Knox (37), Lou Saban (68) and Hall of Famer Marv Levy (112).

7. A clear edge on third down

The Bills are one of six NFL clubs that have converted more than half of their third down opportunities this season. Through their first four games, Buffalo is moving the sticks at a rate of 51.1 percent, good for the sixth-highest success rate in the league.

While staying on the field is the goal of every NFL offense, defenses are trying to do the opposite and Tennessee's defensive unit to this point hasn't been successful at all. In their three games played, the Titans defense is giving up third down conversions more than half the time.

In fact, they're letting third downs to turn into first downs (51.5%) at about the same rate that the Bills offense is converting third downs (51.1%).

The Titans defense ranks 29th in third down defense.

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