Bills’ Desperate For Win In Clash With Titans

Posted on November 15, 2009 by Patrick Moran

It’s only the ninth game of the season, but from the Buffalo Bills perspective it may as well be January. If the Bills hope to even flirt with the possibility of getting into postseason contention, they’ll need to go on the road and defeat a Tennessee Titans team that started 0-6 but have won their past two games.

If history is any indication, the Bills have an excellent chance to win their third straight road game. Buffalo is 14-6 all time following their bye week.

But in recent years, Tennessee has owned the rivalry, winning five of the last six meetings. Of course, its hard for any Bills fan to remember any game that’s not the Music City Miracle. The Titans own a 25-16 lifetime lead in the series, including the bullshit call last second playoff loss in 2000.

After missing the better part of the past three games, Trent Edwards is back starting at quarterback for Buffalo. He’s fully recovered from his concussion and head coach Dick Jauron says Edwards deserves the chance to be the starter again.

There also isn’t a better option. The offense was no better with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. In his two starts, Fitpatrick only led the Bills to 30 points combined. In the process, Fitpatrick threw for just 118.7 yards per game, tossing a pair of touchdowns while throwing three interceptions.

This could be Edwards last chance to show the organization he has what it takes to be the franchise quarterback the Bills hoped he’d be when they let J.P. Losman leave town and not search for a starter to compete for the job. Edwards 2009 statistics have been mostly miserable; throwing for only 985 yards while tossing more picks (6) than touchdowns (5). He’s also demonstrated a penchant for dumping the ball off instead of taking chances down the field and in traffic. Essentially, Edwards is now playing for his future.

He should see plenty of opportunities to get the air game going. As brutal as Buffalo’s defense has been in stopping the run, the Titans have been their equal through the air. Tennessee is last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 278.4 per game.

Terrell Owens is officially listed as questionable, though he’s expected to play. That’s not the case with defensive starters Terrence McGee, Keith Ellison and Kyle Williams, all who have been ruled out.

Taking their places in the starting lineup will be Reggie Corner, Spencer Johnson and Bryan Scott, who is moving from safety to take over for Ellison at linebacker. Ashton Youboty will see plenty of action in a nickel role.

Even when he’s in the lineup, Owens’ lack of productivity continues to disappoint everyone, including himself, the fans and even his agent. At the midpoint of the season, Owens has 23 receptions for 281 yards and one receiving touchdown, numbers that put him on pace for his worst year since his rookie season. Perhaps its time to start giving some of his snaps to James Hardy, who returns after nearly a ten month absence while recovering from major knee surgery. The Bills selected Hardy in the second round (42nd overall ) in last year’s draft and want to gage exactly what they have in him.

Among the Bills listed as questionable are Aaron Schobel (groin), Donte Whitner (ankle) and Jamon Meredith (knee).  The Bills are counting heavily on Schobel and Whitner being ready to go.

Tennessee receiver Jody Gage is out with a back injury.

The key to a Bills victory could very well come down to being able to contain Tennessee running back Chris Johnson. All Johnson has done this season is lead the NFL in rushing yards with 959, putting him on pace for over 1,900. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry, best among running backs with at least 40 rushing attempts. Oh, and he also leads the AFC with 23 rushes that have went for at least 10 yards.

That’s very bad news for a Buffalo Bills defense that is dead last in the NFL against the run. The Bills have allowed 173.6 yards on the round per game and are the only team that’s allowing an average of more than five yards per carry (5.1).

If Buffalo can somehow slow Johnson down it will put the game in the hands of Titans quarterback Vince Young. A colossal disappointment to this point, Young is getting a second chance and taking advantage of it. He’s started the past two weeks, both Tennessee victories. His stats are rather ordinary (27-of-42 passing, 297 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he’s playing much better than he has in recent times.

He’ll have to be careful when putting the ball in the air against a Bills pass defense second in the league with 15 interceptions. Rookie Jairus Byrd is tied for the NFL lead with Darren Sharper of New Orleans with seven picks.

After today, Buffalo travels to Jacksonville next Sunday before consecutive crucial divisional home games against Miami and the New York Jets (Jets game is actually in Toronto). If the Bills can manage to win at least three of their next four, they’d be 6-6 and realistically alive for a playoff spot going into the last month of the season.

If not, the countdown to Jauron’s firing will officially be on.

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1 Comment on Bills’ Desperate For Win In Clash With Titans

  1. Game Day Web Rumblings: Buffalo Bills Links, 11/15 | Buffalo Bills Blog

    [...] Bills’ Desperate For Win In Clash With Titans : Buffalo Sports Daily“If the Bills hope to even flirt with the possibility of getting into postseason contention, they’ll need to go on the road and defeat a Tennessee Titans team that started 0-6 but have won their past two games.” [...]

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