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Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction: MNF Doubleheader Starts With Matchup of Defending AFC Divisional Champs

Bills hope to keep rolling while Titans eager to bounce back after disappointing Week 1 loss.

In the early half of a rare "Monday Night Football" doubleheader, the Titans and Bills will jockey for playoff positioning to wrap up the NFL's Week 2 slate.

This is the fourth straight season that these AFC teams have met, with Buffalo taking the first two and Tennessee winning the most recent games. The Titans won in a 26-point blowout in 2020, but the other three were decided by a combined 11 points.

Although they both won their respective divisions last season, they could not be entering this game heading in more different directions. 

The Bills (1-0) added more star power over the offseason and justified their Super Bowl hype with a 31-10 stomping of the reigning champs to kick off the season. The Titans (0-1), on the other hand, traded their top receiver and lost to the rebuilding Giants at home in Week 1.

Buffalo enters Monday's game with the advantage of three days' extra rest, after playing in the NFL opener on a Thursday. Can the Bills capitalize on that with another statement win? Or will the Titans get back on track with a third straight win in this series?

Monday Night Football: Tennessee (0-1) at Buffalo (1-0)

Kickoff: Monday, Sept. 19 at 7:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Bills -10
Tickets: As low as $267 on SITickets.com

Three Things to Watch

1. Is there a way to slow the Bills' offense?
The Bills looked downright terrifying on offense last week, with a league-best 7.1 yards per play. Concerningly for Tennessee, the second-place team for this stat is the Giants, the team the Titans just lost to. Mike Vrabel's defense will need to find a way to at least slow down Josh Allen and Co. to have a shot since these Titans won't win a shootout. 

To do so, Tennessee will need to do something it struggled with last week: stopping the long passes. Although Daniel Jones mostly threw underneath, he went 3-of-5 with an interception and a touchdown on passes longer than 10 yards, and the TD traveled 38 yards downfield. Allen completed seven of 10 passes that traveled at least 10 yards and connected on his two passes that traveled at least 40 air yards.

The good news is that the Titans at least can bring pressure better than the Bills' last opponent. The Rams finished last in the NFL in Week 1 with a 5.3 percent pressure rate and no hurries. Tennessee was second in the NFL with a 57.1 percent pressure rate, with seven hurries, four QB knockdowns, and five sacks.

2. Can the Titans get any help at receiver?
Tennessee replaced Brown with rookie Treylon Burks and former Ram Robert Woods, as well as free-agent tight end Austin Hooper, and the early returns are mixed at best. Woods and Hooper were held to one catch apiece in Week 1, although Burks at least hauled in three of his five targets for 55 yards.

If anything quarterback Ryan Tannehill's top target was fifth-rounder Kyle Philips, who caught six passes for 66 yards out of the slot. He also added a 46-yard punt return, although that was negated by another punt he fumbled.

For the Titans to make a serious playoff run — or more — they'll need someone to emerge on this offense as a secondary weapon after Derrick Henry. And that could be tough against a Bills defense that ranked first against the pass last season, even if it's still without star cornerback Tre'Davious White.

3. How much will sloppy play continue?
With teams only playing three preseason games — and starters appearing in maybe two of them, if any — it really felt like some teams were using Week 1 to get up to speed. The Titans and Bills have their share of regrets, although obviously more for the latter, who suffered an embarrassing home loss.

The Titans' shortcomings were bountiful, from clock management at the end to poor third-down efficiency (3-of-11). But perhaps most concerning were the seven penalties for 50 yards. Holding calls are subjective and will happen, but pre-snap infractions such as delay of game and false start penalties at crucial times are unacceptable.

Buffalo had a decisively good game as far as third-down conversions (9-of-10) and penalties (just five for 35 yards) but struggled in the turnover department. Allen threw two interceptions, and the team lost two fumbles. Turning the ball over twice on Monday — let alone four times — will be a recipe for trouble.

Final Analysis

The Bills probably aren't as good as they were in Week 1, and the Titans probably aren't as bad. However, there's still quite a gulf between these AFC contenders. If they met later in the season after the Titans' new offense had more time to jell, they'd probably stand a better chance, but the Titans are in trouble in Orchard Park under the lights.

Prediction: Bills 30, Titans 17

*Price as of publication.