The 3-2 Tennessee Titans host the 4-1 Buffalo Bills on Monday night football. The Bills currently possess the leagues No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense.
Tennessee is going to need all hands on deck if they’re going to pull of the primetime upset. More importantly, they’re going to need their best players to play like it in a game that could have major playoff implications down the line.
The game gets closer by the second so let’s take a closer look at who we should be keeping our eyes on come Monday night.
WR Julio Jones
Julio Jones has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury and couldn’t be returning at a better time. The last time Jones was healthy for an entire game was back in Week 2 when he caught six passes for 128 yards.
That threat out wide helped Henry go bonkers for his most productive game thus far after tallying 182 rushing yards, most of which came in the second half when Jones had established his dominant presence.
Against the Colts, Jones converted on a couple of big third downs conversions in the first half and had 47 yards on three catches before apparently tweaking his hamstring sometime in the second half.
If the Titans are going to pull off the upset in front of the home crowd, they’re going to need Jones to be the superstar he truly is when the lights come on this Monday.
WR A.J. Brown
Last year on a random Tuesday evening, Brown was set to make his first start since his Week 1 knee injury sidelined him for multiple weeks. It was on this evening that he reminded everyone just how good he truly was when healthy. His 2020 breakout game occurred in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills where Brown caught seven passes for 82 yards and one early touchdown.
This time around, Brown is set to return for a Week 6 showdown on Monday night against the same team that he broke out against last year. The Third-year wideout will need to have a similar impact to the one he had on last year’s game if Tennessee is going to keep up with Buffalo’s high-powered offense.
This could be the week that Brown benefits from being opposite of a threat like Jones. The treat of his presence alone is going to help more than anything. Brown hasn’t looked himself thus far and could benefit from seeing opposing No. 2 cornerbacks rather than being the only real threat outside of Henry. That often allowed defenses to dictate coverages to his side which makes things harder than they have to be on the Ole Miss product. The luxury of Jones opposite of him will likely allow Brown to thrive once he’s fully healthy which hopefully brings that confident swagger that we have rarely seen thus far in 2021.
Brown only has 130 yards on 10 catches through the first five weeks of the season. For comparison, Jones had 128 yards against Seattle alone. Be on the lookout for how these two feed off each other, keep your eyes peeled to see if this is the week that Jones and Brown look like the best receiver duo in football.
OL Dillon Radunz
The Titans were hit with some unexpected news this week as backup tackle, Ty Sambrailo, decided to suddenly walk away from the game. Losing depth right now is less than ideal for an offensive line that has allowed a league-leading 20 sacks in five games.
Luckily, it seems like the Titans’ second-round pick, Dillon Radunz, is getting closer to being ready to step on the field. Offensive line coach, Keith Carter, said that Radunz is “getting there” while also mentioning that he is “close”.
There’s no denying that Tennessee can use another viable option along the offensive line. Radunz was expected to help be part of the solution after he was taken with the Titans’ second-round pick. Unfortunately for everyone involved, he has provided minimal impact to start the 2021 season.
The former North Dakota State product has been working tirelessly at both guard and tackle since his arrival. At this point, Tennessee can use the help at both positions with Rodger Saffold being hurt along the left side. Meanwhile, both David Quessenberry and Nate Davis have provided far too much inconsistency on the right side.
It’s unclear how much Radunz will play on Monday, but if he does, it will be interesting to see how the rookie does in his first taste of live-action in a meaningful game.
CB Caleb Farley
With Kristian Fulton’s status up in the air, rookie cornerback, Caleb Farley, could be set for his first look at extended action come Sunday. Farley has been recovering from nagging back and shoulder injuries that ultimately slowed down his development.
Last week was Farley’s first time being active since Week 1, he played 22 total defensive snaps for the Titans — most of which came in garbage time. Nonetheless, Farley was targeted four times and only allowed two completions for 13 yards.
This could be a massive week for the rookie and it couldn’t come at a better time. The Titans need all the help they can get on Monday and having their first-round cornerback join the mix would be a huge jump for a defense that needs all the playmakers they can get right now.
ILB Rashaan Evans
The Titans’ first-round pick from the 2018 NFL draft has had a shaky start to his 2021 campaign, to say the least. PFF currently has him graded at an unacceptable 29.2 and to be honest, it’s really hard to argue against that.
Clearly, Tennessee has felt the same way as they have moved towards allowing David Long to be the primary inside linebacker despite already losing Jayon Brown to injury. Another clear sign of the coaches growing displeasure of Evans was the recent acquisition of linebacker Avery Williamson.
Evans is officially on notice that he is about to lose the bulk of his playing time if he doesn’t drastically turn his season around. It will be interesting to see how Evans responds to all this adversity on Monday night.
Honorable mention: QB Ryan Tannehill, LT Taylor Lewan, RG Nate Davis, DT Jeffery Simmons, ILB Avery Williamson, RB Derrick Henry, CB Elijah Molden