1 Tennessee Titans rookie can make a big splash vs Buffalo

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tennessee Titans are set to travel to take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, and there are several key matchups to watch.

Taylor Lewan and Nicholas Petit-Frere vs the Von Miller-led pass rush of the Bills has been talked about over and over. Another talking point this week has been the front seven and their ability to contain Josh Allen while pressuring him.

One of the things that hasn’t been mentioned as much is how the Tennessee Titans’ passing game should attack the Buffalo Bills’ defensive backs.

Mike Vrabel is committed to running the ball as often as he can justify, but the hard part comes when the Tennessee Titans have to figure out what to do on 2nd and 8 after the running game struggles to get going in the early part of the season.

Passing game mismatches that favor the Tennessee Titans

One of the biggest mismatches could be Kyle Philips and Chig Okonkwo vs Taron Johnson who struggled to cover from the slot in the Bills’ Week 1 matchup with the L.A. Rams.

Given how well Philips played last week and Okonkwo’s versatility, athleticism, and effort, this should be something that benefits the Tennessee Titans (especially if Philips is healthy).

However, the biggest matchup for the Tennessee Titans should be first-round pick Treylon Burks against rookie sixth-round pick Christian Benford.

Benford beat out Kaiir Elam for the “other” cornerback spot opposite Dane Jackson and eventually Tre’Davious White when he comes off the PUP list.

While the rookie got the nod in Week 1, he didn’t stand out as a strength of that defense. A rookie who did stand out in Week 1 was the Tennessee Titans first-round pick Treylon Burks.

Even though Mike Vrabel is painfully slow on the uptake here, Burks is already a better blocker and a much better receiver than Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Not only should Burks be a starter, but he should be featured heavily in this offense by the end of the year if he keeps playing like he did in the preseason and in Week 1.

With all eyes on Derrick Henry, the play action game should still be a huge part of the Tennessee Titans game plan this week. If/When the rookie cornerback takes the cheese, Ryan Tannehill should make him pay by getting the ball to Burks who averaged 18.3 yards per catch against the New York Giants.

It would be huge if the Titans could get the running game going in this one, but they don’t need it as long as they can continue to be as explosive in the passing game as they were in Week 1. Balance is fun to talk about in play calling, but it would be a revelation to see this offense actually focus on attacking matchups instead of trying to get a pat on the back for calling a “balanced” game.