Tennessee Titans: 3 key matchups this week vs Buffalo


The Tennessee Titans (1-2) return from their bye this week, and will host the Buffalo Bills (2-2) Sunday at high noon. Both teams should be eager to erase the memories of their last performance, after losing games they feel they should have won.

By game’s end, one of these teams will have kept pace in their quest for a division title. These three key matchups will go a long way in determining who.

Marcus Mariota vs Rex Ryan

Titans qb Marcus Mariota is progressing at a faster rate than anyone expected, but he is still a rookie. He’s also facing one of the best defensive minds of the last twenty years in Bills coach Rex Ryan. According to Jason Wolf of the Tennessean, Ryan doesn’t foresee his defense being the next one in Mariota’s highlights. His quote.

I don’t think the kid [Mariota] will have his way against us. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Whether it was bravado, or simply gamesmanship, Ryan’s 28th ranked pass defense must now back that up against a quarterback that’s entering the game with a 110.3 qb rating.

The chess match between Mariota and Ryan will be fun to watch. Both are cerebral in their approach, so both will be prepared Sunday. Ryan will undoubtedly show Mariota some things that he’s never seen before. And with two weeks to prepare, Mariota should have a few new wrinkles up his sleeve as well.

Tyrod Taylor vs Dick LeBeau 

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has an impressive qb rating of his own (104.4). He is completing an eye popping 71% of his passes, and has 8 tds…just like Mariota. After struggling for most of the day last week against the Giants, Taylor knows that his role may increase this week with Buffalo’s top two running backs and receiver likely out for this game.

And like the Bills, the Titans have a legendary defensive mind of their own. Dick LeBeau also had two weeks to prepare, and should have some new looks for Taylor. LeBeau can also learn from the loss in Cleveland, when Johnny Manziel (who plays a similar style to Taylor), made some huge plays with his athleticism. Taylor should expect plenty of pressure this week…early and often.

Titans O’line vs Bills D’Line

Tennessee’s offensive line faces a tough challenge this week against Buffalo’s tough and talented front seven. This matchup is a test of strengths. Tennessee has been quietly efficient on the ground, averaging 126 ypg, good for 10th in the league. Buffalo boast the league’s third stingiest run defense.

Staying productive on the ground as they have been will be vitally important for Tennessee this week. If the Titans find themselves in 3rd and long a lot, then it’s going to be a long day for Mariota. Tennessee’s o’line has already allowed 12 sacks…to defenses with less talent than Buffalo.

Next: Wins will change Titans perception

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