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 pm, ESPN) at Highmark Stadium, Buffalo appears just as dominant – if not more. The Bill smacked 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 than the ones the Titans (0-1) met last season? Here’s a breakdown:
Von 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 for 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 a defensive front. We saw that in Buffalo’s Week 1 victory. 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 within 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 was constantly rotating 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’re all talented. They all have great moves. They all have different things that make them great.”
Stefon Diggs’ usage
Diggs has been the Bills’ No. 1 receiver since 2020, but he could play more across the formation this season. Titans safety Kevin Byard noted how Diggs, who has spent a lot of time in the past as an isolated backside 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 run the whole route tree. I feel like that’s what makes him special.”
Gabriel Davis’ expanded role
With slot receiver Cole Beasley gone, Davis is the definitive No. 2 receiver. He’s a big-play threat the Titans cannot lose sight of, even with Diggs also on the field.
Davis’ 15.7 yards per reception was 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 a 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 that he’s not taking 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 challenge well.
“Young guys, you just have to be able to take advantage of that lack of experience,” Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said, “but more than anything we have to go out there and be ourselves and be the receivers that we’re meant to be.”
Rodger Saffold on the other side
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 call changes each year, which could minimize Saffold and Quessenberry’s ability to share Titans secrets with their new team.
“I think the advantage is we both kind of know each other,” Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons said of Saffold, his ex-teammate. “I know his play style. I’m sure he knows my play style. I watched him against the Rams. (The Bills) were doing 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.”
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.