Week 4 – at Las Vegas Raiders
Bills Mafia plus Vegas…What could go wrong? The Buffalo Bills will be one of the first franchises to check out the NFL’s newest city, as the wagons will circle in Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time ever in week four. Unofficially dubbed “The Death Star,” the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium is sure to be a beacon for visiting fans come the fall if travel bans have been lifted and they are permitted.
On the field, the Raiders got better at receiver and even added a veteran quarterback in Marcus Mariota to stir the pot. Every team in the AFC West is concerned with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Raiders’ draft strategy reflected this.
With their first round pick, they selected an absolute burner of a wideout in Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III. There were other, more highly-regarded receivers on the board, but the Raiders put the league on notice; they’re looking to stretch the field and out-gun opponents.
Running back Josh Jacobs was a rookie of the year candidate a season ago, and is unquestionably their feature back heading into 2020. A team built to counter-punch, not dodge, their play-style might keep them in games with the Chiefs.
However, this style plays right into the hand of a team like the Bills, who pride themselves on defence and the run game. If they can keep the Raiders’ pair of aces in check, what happens in Vegas might just come back to Orchard Park.
Prediction: 31-28 Bills
Week 5 – at Tennessee Titans
CBS will cue up the footage of the Music City Miracle once more, as the Bills take another trip to Nashville in 2020. Buffalo played the Titans in week five of last season too, but throw that tape out the window because Tennessee has become a completely different beast.
Under Mike Vrabel, the Titans have completely revamped their offence to create one of the most unique attacks in the NFL. They feasted on run-first teams in the playoffs last year, as their ability to reduce possessions and lean on opponents kept them in every game.
They struggled against high-powered, air-raid offences like that of the Chiefs and Saints though, as their strategy of shortening the game falters when asked to come from behind. Kansas City and New Orleans scored enough points to force the Titans to use Ryan Tannehill as a traditional quarterback, and the talent gap became apparent.
If the Bills can put points on the board early and force Tennessee to throw the ball, they’ll have a shot, but if the Titans can settle in with the run game and the Bills struggle early, Vrabel and company will have the game right where they want it. Adept at playing with a lead and digging into the bag of tricks when needed, the Titans are primed to make a lot of noise in one of the weakest divisions in football.
Prediction: 24-20 Titans