Before the Tennessee Titans downed the Buffalo Bills in last season’s Week 6 thriller, the latter was the league’s top-scoring offense and defense. They were complete on paper.
And when the Bills meet the Titans on Monday (6:15 p.m., ESPN) at Highmark Stadium, Buffalo appears just as dominant — if not more so. The Bills knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion Rams in Los Angeles to open the season, adding to their preseason hype.
But how are these Bills (1-0) different from the ones the Titans (0-1) faced last season? Here’s a breakdown:
From Miller, DL depth
The biggest addition for the Bills? Star outside linebacker Von Miller, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. He signed with Buffalo on a six-year deal worth $120 million.
At 33, Miller is still a dominant pass rusher capable of drawing double teams. His presence means more opportunities for others on the defensive front. We saw that in Buffalo’s Week 1 win. Miller still got his — two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss — but four others had at least one sack.
“I don’t mind seeing him,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of Miller, his former Texas A&M teammate. “I just don’t want him in my bubble, you know what I mean?”
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The Bills also have more defensive line depth than they did last year. Jordan Phillips, DaQuan Jones (formerly of the Titans) and Tim Settle are among the new players. They combined for 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and eight tackles, including one for loss, in the opener.
Buffalo consistently rotated personnel up front against the Rams.
“It’s just a lot more film study,” Titans right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere said of the challenge of facing so many rotations. “They are all talented. They all have great moves. They all have different things that make them great.”
The usage of Stefon Diggs
Diggs has been the Bills’ starting receiver since 2020, but he could play more throughout the formation this season. Titans safety Kevin Byard noted how Diggs, who has spent a lot of time in the past as an isolated back receiver, was put in jet motion and lined him up everywhere against the Rams.
Diggs had eight receptions for 122 yards in the opener.
“He’s a great deep threat guy,” cornerback Kristian Fulton said. “He can take care of the whole route tree. I feel like that’s what makes him special.”
The expanded role of Gabriel Davis
With slot receiver Cole Beasley gone, Davis is the definitive No. 2 receiver. He’s a huge threat that the Titans can’t lose sight of, even with Diggs also on the field.
Davis’ 15.7 yards per reception were ninth in the NFL last season. In the opener he had four catches for 88 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown and a 47-yard reception.
“Obviously, (Diggs) is No. 1, but at the end of the day, we have to know where Davis is on the other side,” Byard said. “We have to make sure he doesn’t take the top off the defense.”
With Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White on Reserve/PUP and Levi Wallace gone, the Titans will face different cornerbacks. First-round rookie Kaiir Elam and third-year pro Dane Jackson were the starters last week.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Elam and Jackson are long, athletic and tackle well.
“Guys, you’ve just got to be able to exploit that lack of experience,” Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said, “but more than anything we’ve got to come out and be ourselves and be the receivers that we’re meant to be.”
Rodger Saffold on the other hand
Saffold, the Titans left guard from 2019-21, now starts at the same position for the Bills, who signed him after Tennessee released him as a cap casualty. The Titans’ right tackle last season, David Quessenberry, is also now with Buffalo.
Center Ben Jones noted how the offense’s calling changes each year, which could minimize the ability of Saffold and Quessenberry to share Titans secrets with their new team.
“I think the advantage is that we both know each other,” Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons said of Saffold, his former teammate. “I know his style of play. I’m sure he knows my style of play. I watched him against the Rams. (The Bills) did some things a little different, but it’s basically the same Rodger that I’ve seen since I’ve been here with Tennessee. I’m excited for the matchup.”