Before the Tennessee Titans beat the Buffalo Bills in last season’s Week 6 thriller, the latter was the league’s leading offensive and defensive scorer. They were complete on paper.
And when the Bills meet the Titans on Monday (6:15 p.m., ESPN) at Highmark Stadium, Buffalo appears just as dominant — if not more so. Bill hit the defending Super Bowl champion Rams in Los Angeles to open the season, adding to their preseason hype.
But how are these Bills (1-0) different from those the Titans (0-1) faced last season? Here is a breakdown:
By Miller, DL Depth
Biggest addition for the Bills? Star outside linebacker Von Miller, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. He signed with Buffalo on a six-year deal worth $120 million.
At 33, Miller is still a dominant passing thrower capable of drawing double teams. His presence means more opportunities for others on a defensive front. We saw it in Buffalo’s Week 1 win. Miller still got his own — two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss — but four others had at least one sack.
“I don’t mind seeing him,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of Miller, his former Texas A&M teammate. “I just don’t want him in my bubble, you know what I mean?”
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The Bills also have a deeper defensive line than last year. Jordan Phillips, DaQuan Jones (formerly of the Titans) and Tim Settle are among the new players. They combined for 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and eight tackles, including one for loss, in Game 1.
Buffalo constantly rotated personnel up front against the Rams.
“It’s just a lot more film studies,” Titans right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere said of the challenge of dealing with so many rotations. “They are all talented. They all have great moves. They all have different things that make them great.
Using Stefon Diggs
Diggs has been the Bills’ No. 1 receiver since 2020, but he could play more across the roster this season. Titans safety Kevin Byard noted how Diggs, who has spent a lot of time in the past as a lone wide receiver, was thrown into throwing motion and fielding him all over the place against the Rams.
Diggs had eight receptions for 122 yards in Game 1.
“He’s a great deep threat guy,” cornerback Kristian Fulton said. “It can run the whole route tree. I feel like that’s what makes it special.
Expanded role of Gabriel Davis
With the departure of slots catcher Cole Beasley, Davis is the definitive No. 2 catcher. He’s a major threat the Titans can’t lose sight of, even with Diggs on the court as well.
Davis’ 15.7 yards per reception was ninth in the NFL last season. In Game 1, he had four catches for 88 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown and a 47-yard reception.
“Obviously (Diggs) is a No. 1, but at the end of the day, we need to know where Davis is on the other side,” Byard said. “We have to make sure he doesn’t get the better of the defense.”
With the departure of Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White as reserve/PUP and Levi Wallace, the Titans will face different cornerbacks. First-round rookie Kaiir Elam and third-year pro Dane Jackson were the starters last week.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Elam and Jackson were long, athletic and challenged well.
“Young guys, you just gotta be able to take advantage of that lack of experience,” Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said, “but more than anything, we gotta go out there and be ourselves and be the receivers that we are. meant to be.”
Rodger Saffold on the Other Side
Saffold, the Titans vacated guard from 2019-21, now starts at the same position for the Bills, who signed him after Tennessee released him as a cap victim. Titans right tackle from last season, David Quessenberry, is also now with Buffalo.
Center Ben Jones noted how the offensive lineup changes every year, which could minimize Saffold and Quessenberry’s ability to share Titans secrets with their new team.
“I think the advantage is that we both know each other,” Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons said of his former teammate Saffold. “I know his style of play. I’m sure he knows my style of play. I watched him against the Rams. (The Bills) were doing a little different things, but it’s basically the same Rodger I’ve seen since I’ve been here with Tennessee. I’m excited for the game.
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for the USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.
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