Titans vs. Bills: A Week 7 Matchup Preview
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Each team has to be looking at the other as posing an incredible opportunity to get their season pointed in the right direction.
Here's everything you need to know about the Week 7 clash.
What It Means
The Titans can use a win over the Bills to springboard them into the second stage of their schedule.
If they can pull their record to 3-4 with Jake Locker coming back for the Week 8 game against the Colts, Tennessee will feel as if they are still in the hunt in a wide-open AFC.
As for the Bills, they are tied for first place in the jumbled AFC East. Buffalo hasn't played well this year and has been outscored on the season, but with a win against the Titans, the Bills will have to feel good about their start heading into their bye week.
No matter how average (and that's a generous term) the Titans and Bills may be, the fact is that an average team will make the playoffs in the AFC.
Both of these teams want to be that average team.
Matchup to Watch: C.J. Spiller vs. Titans Linebackers
C.J. Spiller may be the best running back in football right now.
At the very least, he's the most effective.
He's destroying the league in virtually every measure of running effectiveness devised.
There are backs with more total yards, but there is no one having more impact than Spiller.
The Titans will need solid play from their linebackers to contain Spiller, and that means solid tackling. Spiller is one of the most elusive running backs in football.
Unfortunately, Akeem Ayers and Will Witherspoon rank near the bottom of the league in tackling efficiency. Ayers has already blown six tackles, which is second in the NFL among 4-3 outside linebackers.
If the Titans tackle Spiller cleanly on the first hit, it will go a long way to getting off the field.
What happens when the league's worst run offense (Titans) plays the worst run defense (Bills)?
Chris Johnson trips over his own two feet and tackles himself?
This is an odd-duck game in which both teams are utterly inept in a key area of football.
This actually should favor the Titans, because they will want to run, if only to keep Matt Hasselbeck from throwing too many passes.
If the Titans can't run on the Bills, it's safe to say they can't run at all.
It's difficult to find any area the Titans excel in, but they've been reasonably efficient passing in the red zone.
The Titans have the ninth-most efficient red-zone passing offense, compared with the Bills 28th-ranked defense against the same.
Of course, the advantage is flipped on the other side, where Buffalo is eighth passing and the Titans are 30th defensively.
Both teams share the exact same advantage over the other. They run down the field, then pass in close. Both offenses do it well. Both defenses are terrible at stopping it.
Tennessee is so bad offensively and defensively in almost every form of league ranking, it's hard to mark anything as a huge plus for them.
Most of the Titans' advantages are strictly theoretical. Given the talent they have in the passing game, it stands to reason there are plays to be made on the Bills, but seeing is believing.
Best Video Tangentially Related to the Game
Is there a Titans version of this yet?
The Titans Will Win If...
It's difficult to take the Bills seriously because of how badly they've gotten blown out. In many ways, they are the Titans with an easier schedule.
If Tennessee really is the more talented team, they should win.
This is one of those "measuring-stick games" where you learn what a team is really capable of.
If the Titans wideouts make plays and Chris Johnson still has an All-Pro back in him, the Titans will take a step toward becoming the team they hope they can be.
The Bills Will Win If...
Ryan Fitzpatrick has ranged from inconsistent to downright terrible in 2012, but if the king of the garbage-time yards can step up against a soft Titans' secondary, Buffalo could flat out-score Tennessee.
Buffalo has shown the ability to create turnovers, but the offense gives them back as fast as the defense generates them.
A solid game by Fitzpatrick will likely be all it takes to sink the Titans.
Neither of these teams is good, and both possess huge weaknesses on both sides of the ball.
The Bills are a hard team to figure out, as they turn the ball over frequently and don't pass well.
The fact that their passing offense is so weak is the reason the Titans might be able to pull off the road win. Asking Fitzpatrick to avoid turnovers is like asking Jeff Fisher to avoid mustaches.
As long as Hasselbeck plays respectably, look for Tennessee to squeak one out.
Titans 24, Bills 23
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