Week 1 gave us an electric start to the Bills' season that resulted in a 31-10 win over the defending Super Bowl champions. Buffalo is heading into Week 2 undefeated with a chance to take down the Titans on Monday Night Football, a team they haven't beaten the past two seasons.
Here are five storylines to know before Monday night's home opener.
Game info: Monday, Sept. 19 at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN.
1. Breaking the losing streak vs. the Titans
The last two matchups against the Titans have been frustrating for the Bills. This will be the fifth-straight year the two play each other. Buffalo and Tennessee have each won two with the Titans winning the last two games.
The last meeting between the two resulted in a 34-31 loss. The Bills had a 31-24 lead heading into the 4th quarter, but the Titans scored twice with less than 10 minutes to go to give them the lead. Running back Derrick Henry had a big game by amassing 143 rushing yards off 20 carries and also scored on the ground three times.
In 2020, the Bills played the Titans on a Tuesday night because the game got pushed due to a Covid outbreak that happened within the Titans. Buffalo never had the lead and lost 42-16.
The Bills believe their familiarity with Tennessee can help in their preparation. The most important thing will be following through with what they have studied all week in hopes of breaking their losing streak.
"I think it always helps if you have a good idea of what that opponent does," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier shared. "Now, it's another thing to go out and stop that opponent with what you know. Some people, teams we play, they have an idea of what type of coverages we're going to play, what type of front we're going to play. But it's another thing to have success against that front, against those coverages and vice versa.
"For us, we have an idea of what Tennessee is going to do. But to go out and stop, contain that run game along with their play-action pass, their boot game, their shots down the field, you've got to go out and play the game and execute, and make the plays."
2. Can the offense stay consistent?
After their 21-point victory over the Rams, the Bills became the first team to not punt in three out of the last four regular season games. They are the first team to record a stat like that since the league began tracking individual punts in 1939. Translation—the offense was humming against the Rams. Buffalo scored on all their trips to the red zone, Josh Allen completed over 83% of his passes and the group averaged 7.12 yards per play, which is the second-best in the NFL through Week 1.
It's one thing to have this much offensive success against a team who struggled on defense last season. It's another to convert 90% of their third down opportunities against a team who has DT Aaron Donald, LB Bobby Wagner and CB Jalen Ramsey. Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey says keeping things consistent week over week comes down to execution.
"We were able to protect well up front and were really able to execute what we were calling," Dorsey said of their success against LA. "Guys were doing a great job in terms of running routes, being there when they needed to be there for Josh in terms of spacing, in terms of in and out of cuts and Josh making good decisions."
The Bills will have a tough test on Monday when they face another defensive line who can pressure the quarterback. The Titans led the NFL in pressure rate (16.7%) in their Sunday loss to the Giants. DT Jeffery Simmons and LB Rashad Weaver posted two sacks each. They also had the ninth-highest blitz percentage at 30%.
"They pose just as big of a problem," Dorsey said comparing the Titans pass rush to the Rams. "Jeffery Simmons does a great job up front for them, creates a lot of issues matchup wise and from a protection standpoint, from a run game standpoint. So, it's a big challenge for us this week facing a guy like that.
"But also, they've done a great job surrounding him with guys that can also win. So, it's not just him up front. They've got a lot of talent across the board on that defense that pose a lot of problems to offenses."
3. Stopping Derrick Henry
The Titans have one of the best running backs in the NFL on their side in Derrick Henry. The Bills defense will have their hands full with creating a plan to limit Henry and other weapons who can attack in different ways. The Bills and Titans have faced each other in four straight seasons. In those four games, Henry has 70 carries for 334 rushing yards (4.77 yards per rush) and has scored six rushing touchdowns.
Frazier says it will be important to stop Henry from the jump.
"You really got to do a great job of stopping the run early on," Frazier shared. "That makes all the difference in the world. That's going to be a tremendous challenge for us. We're going to try to put together a game plan that will help limit those big plays by Derrick Henry and that offense."
The Bills held Henry under 80 rushing yards in all but one matchup. The game Henry accumulated over 80 was last season when the RB had an explosive 76-yard rushing touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter. While the Rams don't have a big-play back like Henry, they do credit themselves to being a balanced team. The Bills did a great job of stopping the run on Thursday. Buffalo held the Rams to just 52 rushing yards and allowed only 3.7 yards per play.
Buffalo's "new look" defensive line hasn't gone up against Henry yet, but it will be interesting to see the impact Von Miller and former teammate DaQuan Jones have with stopping the RB.
"We haven't gone against him with this group," Frazier said. "We feel very confident that we'll be able to do a good job, but we also know he's an excellent back and he's very capable of breaking a long run. Our goal is to limit that of course, and to really make it hard for him and the rest of their offense. We're gonna do our very best to get that done."
4. Another big stage in Week 2
BillsMafia showed out in LA by packing SoFi Stadium with blue and red. The expectation is that an even louder crowd will show up for the Week 2 home opener since Bills fans are still riding the high from the Week 1 win. The last time the Bills had their home opener on a primetime stage was in 2016 when they faced the Jets in a loss on Thursday night.
Monday night's game will mark the third time in the last two seasons that Buffalo has had back-to-back primetime appearances. A win on Monday night would also snap a two-game losing streak on MNF; Buffalo's last win on Monday night was when they beat the Patriots 38-9 in Week 16 of the 2020 season.
Week 2's home opener marks one of Buffalo's five primetime matchups this season. After Monday, Buffalo will have three primetime games left on their schedule (Week 8, 13 and 17).
5. Return of Robert Woods + several other connections
There are several connections worth noting in this Week 2 game. Titans wide receiver Robert Woods will make his return to Buffalo. Woods was drafted by the Bills in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and played his first four seasons with Buffalo before heading to the Rams. Woods also played collegiately at USC with Bills quarterback Matt Barkley.
Bills offensive linemen Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry will face their former team on Monday. The two each spent the last three years (2019 to 2021) with the Titans. Bills defensive tackle DaQuan Jones also has ties to Tennessee. Jones was drafted by the Titans in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and played for Tennessee from 2014-2020.
Bills tight end Dawson Knox will likely have a big group of fans travel to Buffalo for the Monday night matchup. Knox grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee, which is about 20 minutes away from Nashville.
View the Best 30 Photos from the Week 1 game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium.