Prime Time Picks is 6-3, and we get Tuesday Night Football this week as the Bills (4-0) travel to Nashville to take on the Titans (3-0).
Week 5 Prime Time Picks: Bills (-3.5) vs Titans (+155) O/U 53 – All lines via DraftKings
Both teams come into this game not expecting to be playing on a Tuesday, but that is the nature of the 2020 season thus far. The Titans have not played in over two weeks as a string of positive COVID-19 tests were seen in Titans players and personnel. Over the course of the last week-and-a-half, more than 20 Titans players and staffers tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which led to the team’s facilities being shut down for over a week. Ultimately their game with Pittsburgh was postponed and moved to Week 7 on Oct. 25, and this matchup with the Bills was moved to Tuesday. They played their last game on September 27 as they beat the Vikings 31-30 in Minnesota. The uncertainty of the schedule changes throughout the past week or so will not doubt effect both teams, but no matter how you slice it, the Titans will be at a disadvantage for this game. Whether it’s a result of a lack of preparation time — Tennessee has had one full practice in two weeks — or due to the team missing a slew of players who are on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, or both.
Both Teams Undefeated
The Bills come in 4-0 with wins over the Jets (0-5), Dolphins (2-3), Rams (4-1), and Raiders (3-2). The Titans have played three games and sit at 3-0, with wins over the Broncos (1-3), Jaguars (1-4), and Vikings (1-4). All three of the Titans games have been close ones, as they beat the Broncos 16-14, the Jaguars 33-30, and the Vikings 31-30, for an average margin of victory of two points. The Bills have fared a little better, as they have an average margin of victory of 5.75 points.
Is Josh Allen an MVP Candidate?
Bills QB Josh Allen is off to a tremendous start through the first four games of the season. He is completing over 70% of his passes and has thrown 12 TD’s against just one interception. He threw 20 TD’s all of last season. He also has 3 rushing TD’s this season. Allen has a rating of 122.7, good for 3rd in the league behind only Russell Wilson (129.8) and Aaron Rodgers (128.4). He is averaging 331.5 passing yards per game, and last week against the Raiders, Allen was 24/24 with 288 yards and 2 TD’s. He will be facing a Titans defense that is 23rd in passing yards per game, giving up 256.3 yards per game. It should be noted that the Titans’ three opponents so far this season are 32nd (Jets), 27th (Broncos), and 25th (Vikings) in passing yards per game. Allen and the Bills are 2nd. Allen will look to expose that passing defense tomorrow night.
Stefon Diggs’ Impact
The Bills offense added a tremendous vertical threat over the offseason, as they brought in former Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. Allen looks to Diggs quite often, as through four games, Diggs has 35 targets with 26 catches for 403 yards and 2 TD’s. Diggs brings a deep threat as well, as he ranks first in the league with eight receptions of 20 or more yards. Look for Allen to target Diggs a lot against the Titans.
Strength vs Strength
The Titans offense goes as Derrick Henry goes. Henry was a monster last season, as he helped lead the Titans to the AFC Championship game with a YPC average of 5.1. This season, Henry has slowed down a bit thus far, as his YPC average through three games is 3.9. Although, “slowing down” for Derrick Henry includes having 319 rushing yards through the first three weeks of the season, which led the league. Just shows how great he really is. Henry is coming off his best game of this season, as he ran the ball 26 times for 119 yards and 2 TD’s against the Vikings two weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if the unexpected time off has any effect on Henry, and if he gets going, it is going to be a long night for the Bills defense. Although, the Bills defense has been tough, as they currently rank 8th in opposing rushing YPG with 101. This will be a great matchup of strength vs strength.
Ryan Tannehill Can’t Be Counted Out
Titans QB Ryan Tannehill has not put up Josh Allen type numbers so far, but he is still off to a great start. He is completing 67% of his passes, and has 6 TD’s with just one interception and a rating of 105.8, which is 9th in the NFL. Tannehill, along with Henry, lead a Titans offense that is 10th in yards per game (391.7), and 12th in points per game (26.7). They are 4th in red zone scoring, as they find the end zone on 72.7% of their trips.
Both teams have had to adjust their schedules because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee, but I think the Titans are really put at a disadvantage here. With unexpected time off, as well as limited practices, the Titans will be playing their first game in over two weeks, whereas the Bills played last week. The fact of the matter is, Tennessee is coming off of an impromptu week-and-a-half off unlike anything the league has seen before. While immeasurable, it still can’t be discounted, especially since it appears that the Titans will be down several starters, most notably a few along the defensive line. On top of that, it is a bad time for Tennessee to face one of the NFL’s top offenses with a quarterback who is playing like an MVP. Allen has been dominant so far, and he is going up against a Titans passing defense that is less than stellar. Although the Titans are 3-0, their wins agains the Jets, Broncos, and Vikings (who have a combined record of 3-11), have all been close games decided by 3 points or less. The Bills are 4-0 having faced better competition, and their offense comes in red hot. Because of this, along with the Titans extended time off, I think the Bills will be too much to handle in this one. I think Henry and the Titans will hang around, but I see the Bills pulling away late with big throws from Allen. I’ll take the Bills to win and cover.
Title Photo: Creator: Adrian Kraus | Credit: AP