Titans at Bills -- Week 7
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. (turf, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Spread: Bills by 3
Forecast: 50 degrees, cool
Records: Bills (Overall: 3-3, AFC East: 0-2); Titans (Overall: 2-4, AFC South: 0-1)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Dec. 14, 2011: Titans 23, Bills 17; Nov. 15, 2009: Titans 41, Bills 17. Series record: Titans hold a 26-14 edge.
What matters: It's amazing the Bills are in this position considering just how bad their three losses have been, but they have a chance to enter the bye with a 4-3 record with a winnable home game against the Tennessee Titans. Each team in the AFC East is 3-3, leaving the division race wide open. Can the Bills take advantage? On paper, this matchup looks a lot like Buffalo's Week 6 matchup against Arizona. The Titans, like the Cardinals, aren't the most formidable threat, but they aren't pushovers after a gritty win over Pittsburgh last week. Like in their gutsy win over the Cardinals, the Bills need to find a way to put away the Titans by whatever means possible if they hope to gear up for a legitimate playoff push in the second half of the season.
Who matters: RB C.J. Spiller, the defensive line and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills have split carries the past few weeks between Spiller and Fred Jackson, but Spiller looked to be the quicker of the two in the win over Arizona. He ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, which included a 33-yard burst. It may be time for him to get the bulk of the load. Even though RB Chris Johnson hasn't been exactly lighting it up for the Titans, he remains a threat and the Bills have been burned in the ground game in blowout losses to New England and San Francisco. Fitzpatrick did a decent enough job of managing the game against Arizona (18 of 32, 153 yards), but the Bills need more from him.
Key matchups: Johnson vs. Buffalo's front seven, Bills DE Mario Williams vs. Titans RT David Stewart, Bills CB Stephon Gilmore vs. Titans WR Kenny Britt. Johnson may not be as dangerous as he was a couple years ago (301 yards, no TDs on 92 carries, 3.3 average), but the Bills have been susceptible to big gains on the ground. Coach Chan Gailey on Johnson: “He scares you. Every time he touches the ball, he scares you. You can still see that electric speed and that electric quickness that he has. Yes, he hadn't made as many yards and the statistics are down but I'm telling you, defensive coaches hold their breath every time he touches it.” Johnson ran for 153 yards and two TDs against Buffalo last season. Williams has finally started to heat up for the Bills, as he had two sacks against the Cardinals. The Titans have given up nine sacks the last three games. Britt struggled with dropped passes in the win over the Steelers, but is a talented threat on the outside. Buffalo's CBs have been a concern this season, and Gilmore will be put to the test.
Injuries of note: DT Kyle Williams (ankle), SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle), DL Spencer Johnson (ankle) and CB Terrence McGee (knee) are all officially listed as questionable but are looking good. McGee, who only practiced on Friday, said that practice went well and he'll be dressed. RG Kraig Urbik (ankle), DE Mark Anderson (knee) and LT Cordy Glenn (ankle) are out.
Inside stuff: Spiller and Jackson have modified their rotation in recent weeks. Instead of switching every other series, the two decided to wait every two series before making a change so they will be able to better find a rhythm. It remains to be seen if this will continue, though, as they both get closer to full health.
Connections: Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray held the same role in Buffalo from 2001-05. Titans P Brett Kern is a native of the Buffalo suburb of Grand Island.
Stat you should know: Spiller's rushing average of 7.55 yards per carry is the highest by any RB in the NFL since 1960 among players with at least 60 carries through six games.
Record watch: Jackson needs 80 rushing yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
Looking ahead: The Bills have their bye in Week 8 before playing at New England and Houston.
Prediction: Bills 20, Titans 13
For more updates on the Bills, follow correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSBills and @MarkLud12.