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Week 5 preview: Bills at Titans

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Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-2)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein

*Keys to the game: The Bills must go without RBs LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Karlos Williams (concussion), and Boobie Dixon is the next in line. That places more pressure on QB Tyrod Taylor, who has been exception at times but also battles the expected inconsistency of a first-year starter. The Titans have been susceptible to the run, allowing 4.3 yards per carry and 113.7 yards per game, so Taylor’s versatility certainly poses a threat. WR Sammy Watkins (calf) could also be out another week, robbing Taylor of his top vertical threat.

The Bills have only seven sacks through four games after totaling 111 over the past two seasons. That’s in part due to opponents relying on the type of up-tempo, quick-strike passing game that Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota excellent in while at Oregon. He’s still experiencing NFL growing pains, and Mariota has been sacked 12 times through three games. He’ll be charged with getting the ball out of his hands early and letting his receivers make plays after the catch.

*Matchup to watch – Bills CB Nickell Robey vs. Titans WR Kendall Wright: Wright is the Titans’ leading receiver with 13 catches for 213 yards and a pair of TDs. He works best out of the slot, where he will see significant time working against Robey.

*Player spotlight – Bills WR Denarius Moore: Marcus Thigpen and his 5.2-yard average on punt returns was given his pink slip this week. Enter Moore, who worked with Bills wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal in Oakland. Moore has 42 career punt returns for a 6.8-yard average to go with 142 catches for 2,169 yards.

*Fast facts: Taylor ranks sixth in the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating at 128.9. … The Bills have had 58 total penalties called against them, the most through for games in the NFL since at least 2005. … Mariota is the second quarterback in NFL history with eight TD passes through his first three career games (Mark Rypien).

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Titans are rested coming off a bye week and rookie QB Marcus Mariota has protected the ball reasonably well while moving the offense. But this is the week the Bills’ defense answers the challenge from coach Rex Ryan and creates constant pressure against a pair of young offensive tackles.

*Our pick: Bills 27-21.


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