The Titans, after letting one slip away at home against the Giants, are in danger of starting the season 0-2 with a Monday Night Football matchup at Buffalo against the team many have labeled the Super Bowl favorite.
The Titans have done well against Buffalo recently and also have fared well many times when their backs have been to the wall in such situations. They will need one of those efforts Monday night if they are to even their record at 1-1.
First down: Play a clean game
The Titans didn’t have many penalties against the Giants. They pass-protected well and turned the ball over once on a misplayed punt. Yet they didn’t take advantage of opportunities. They have to be better in the red zone and must be better than 3-for-11 on third down if they are to win in Buffalo.
Second down: Fix the run defense
The good news is Saquan Barkley (18 carries, 164 yards) isn’t on the Bills’ roster, but Josh Allen is, and he is capable of beating any team both with his arm and his legs. The Titans must shore up the missed tackles and missed assignments that allowed Barkley to run wild.
Allen is a weapon like few others in the NFL, and the Bills quarterback must be kept in the pocket for the pass rush to win and force him into some third-and-long situations. Even so, Allen and the Bills could still win their share.
Third down: Stick with what works
Even though the Titans have been known to resort to some trickery, they know Derrick Henry carrying the football is effective. They also know that approach opens play action for Ryan Tannehill and his receivers. Sticking with that until Buffalo’s defense proves it can shut it down just might be a recipe for success.
Fourth down: Prevent the lapses
In 2020 and the early part of 2021, the Titans defense was burned often by big plays. The defense would hold up and then a busted coverage or missed tackle would lead to problems with explosive plays. The Titans rectified most of that toward the middle of last season, and the defense was much better in the second half. In the opener, however, big plays again hurt Tennessee. Those types of lapses must be minimized against the powerful Bills offense.