Nearly 20 years after the Music City Miracle, the Buffalo Bills are returning to the scene of the crime to face the Tennessee Titans in Week 5. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 6 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Titans as 3-point home favorites with an over/under of 39 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
Buffalo’s undefeated run came to an end last week when they played the Patriots. However, the Bills beat the spread and gave the Pats all they could handle, out-gaining them by more than 150 yards. Alas, it was four Buffalo turnovers and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown that cost the Bills in a 16-10 loss.
Despite the loss, the Bills have to be happy with a 3-1 start to the season. Buffalo also has a three-game homestand lined up after this week’s trip to Nashville, giving the Bills a great chance to get back on track. If they can steal another win on the road this week, Buffalo will be in great shape moving forward.
As for the Titans, they are surely feeling better about themselves after last week’s 24-10 win over the Falcons. Tennessee was approaching the danger zone after back-to-back losses to the Colts and Jaguars. But a road win over the Falcons to get back to 2-2 is just what they needed.
More importantly, the Titans have a chance to build off last week’s win with three of their next four games at home. In a way, starting 2-2 with three of their first games on the road can be looked at as a positive start to the season. The Titans also got a little fortunate because the three other teams in the AFC South are all 2-2, even with Tennessee losing head-to-head games with two of them. Clearly, the division is there for the taking, but the Titans need to be able to hold serve at home.
Tennessee’s week-to-week inconsistency this season makes me want to shy away from them in this game. In fact, the Titans have lost both games in which they were favored. Meanwhile, the Bills more or less out-played the Patriots last week, so I can envision them getting back on track. If nothing else, this figures to be an ugly, low-scoring game, which makes me want to lean toward Buffalo and the points.
The biggest question heading into this game is the status of Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, who remains in concussion protocol. But Allen being out isn’t necessarily a game-changer. He’s been turnover-prone this season, throwing three interceptions last week before getting knocked out. Plus, the Bills have a capable, veteran backup in Matt Barkley. While he struggled off the bench against the Patriots last week, Barkley should fare better with a full week of practice. In his lone start last year, Barkley helped the Bills to a 41-10 road win against the Jets, so he can still play.
The good news for the Bills is that they’re getting steady production out of Frank Gore, who rushed for over 100 yards last week against New England and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry on the season. There’s also a chance rookie Devin Singletary will return from injury this week to help the Buffalo backfield. If the Bills can run the ball effectively and keep some pressure off Barkley, they should be in good shape.
The Buffalo defense will also play a role in keeping the pressure off Barkley’s shoulders. The Bills have been one of the most consistent defensive teams in the NFL over the first month of the season. They’ve forced eight turnovers in four games and haven’t allowed more than 17 points in any game. The Buffalo defense would have even more impressive numbers of the offense was better at avoiding costly turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee offense has been up and down over the first month of the season. The Titans scored 43 points in Week 1 against the Browns but have cooled down considerably since then. Even in last week’s win over the Falcons, Marcus Mariota threw three touchdowns in the first half but did little in the second half. It’s that kind of inconsistency in the passing game that makes it hard to believe in the Titans as a favorite.
Tennessee’s biggest problem this year has been sacks, allowing 17 over their first three games. To be fair, the Titans didn’t allow Mariota to be sacked at all last week. They’re also getting left tackle Taylor Lewan back from suspension this week. But I’m putting too much stock in a game against the Atlanta defense. I’m not exactly confident in the Titans keeping Mariota protected against the Bills.
In the end, I can’t trust the Titans to score enough points to cover the spread. As mentioned, the Bills haven’t allowed more than 17 points this season, and I doubt Tennessee can top that number given some of their problems on offense this year. That’s enough for me to take my chances with Buffalo and the points.