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Place: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, New York
No team in the NFL has been more inconsistent than the Buffalo Bills, who despite their maddening ups and downs are sitting in a four-way tie for first place in the AFC East.
The Bills can move above the .500 mark Sunday when they host the Tennessee Titans, who prevented a full-scale spiral by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 11. Buffalo went into Arizona and surprised the Cardinals in overtime last week, rebounding from back-to-back maulings in which the team was outscored 97-31.
The Titans also bounced back from a pair of lopsided defeats in beating the Steelers. Tennessee has won four straight and seven of eight meetings with the Bills, including a 23-17 victory at Buffalo last December.
Buffalo Bills (3-3): Buffalo’s defense finally came to life in Arizona after it was gashed for 1,201 yards in the previous two games. The Bills limited the Cardinals to 332 yards and registered five sacks – two by free-agent acquisition Mario Williams, who had been a non-factor since signing a six-year, $100 million contract in the offseason.
The Bills made a move to fortify the defense by re-signing linebacker Shawne Merriman following a knee injury to DE Mark Anderson. Merriman had 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons with San Diego, but has collected only five in parts of the past four seasons. With QB Ryan Fitzpatrick continuing to struggle, expect the Bills to give the RB tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller a heavy workload.
Tennessee Titans (2-4): Tennessee has myriad issues, not the least of which has been the startling lack of productivity from star running back Chris Johnson. The former 2,000-yard rusher was held to 24 yards or fewer in four of the team’s first five games, but showed signs of breaking out of his doldrums with 91 yards on 19 carries against the Steelers.
Johnson ran for 153 yards in last season’s win at Buffalo. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck will make his third consecutive start as second-year QB Jake Locker continues to recuperate from a shoulder injury.
Hasselbeck has four TDs and four interceptions but he guided the Titans to 10 points in the final 4:19 in the come-from-behind victory over Pittsburgh.
1. The Titans and Bills rank 1-2 in the league in most points allowed with 204 and 192, respectively.
2. Tennessee is 0-3 away from home and has been outscored 106-31.
3. Williams has 5.5 sacks in nine career games against the Titans.