NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Challenge” seemed to be Tennessee Titans offensive players’ favorite word on Wednesday whenever they were asked about the Buffalo Bills defense they are getting set to face in Week 5.

It’s a good choice. The Bills defense has allowed the sixth-fewest points of any team through four weeks of the 2019 season, and they recently made QB Tom Brady, a Hall of Fame shoo-in, look like a rookie.

The unit is successful because of its top-notch fundamentals, ability to play multiple fronts and quality personnel at all levels of the field. It’s a unit the Titans offense could have a tough time countering.

“They’re extremely sound,” said LT Taylor Lewan. “They’re well-coached. I think [OL coach] Keith Carter said this to us, that they’re the same team as us, but in a different city. They’re hard-working guys, high-effort guys and they’re very tough. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us up front.”

“I think they played really hard, they’re well-coached,” said head coach Mike Vrabel. “I think the players play extremely hard, it’s a good scheme, they play with really good technique, fundamentals, really good on first down with a good third-down package. It’s a really good challenge. They’re a consistent top-tier defense for a reason.”

At every level, the Bills defense has at least one highly-talented player.

The defensive line boasts the freakishly-athletic Ed Oliver, whom the Bills took ninth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. At linebacker, they’ve got the speedy Trumaine Edmunds and former Pro Bowler Lorenzo Alexander.

In the secondary, Buffalo has been spurred to success by the respective strengths of talented corner Tre’Davious White and former All-Pro safety Micah Hyde.

“They’ve got a bunch of underrated players,” said QB Marcus Mariota. “I think they’ve got guys on every single level of the defense that are great players, and you can tell just with their effort and how they play, they take pride in it. Honestly, we have a lot of work cut out for us. It’s going to be on us to execute, but we know we have a challenge in front of us.”

The Bills’ defense has played well enough to make up for the fact that the team’s offense has struggled with turnovers.

QB Josh Allen, who likely won’t play this week due to a concussion he suffered against the Patriots, has a lopsided TD-INT ratio of 3-6. But, thanks to the defense’s opportunistic nature, those turnovers haven’t hurt the Bills too badly.

“They won’t give up a big play,” said WR Adam Humphries. “They’ve got a lot of pass breakups, a lot of forced fumbles. You can see on film that they’re coming after the ball. They do a good job of coming after the ball and making it tough on offenses.”

The Titans offense stepped up against the Falcons in Week 4, scoring 24 points. Keeping up the success could prove to be a difficult proposition on Sunday.


  • Bills HC Sean McDermott said on a conference call that QB Josh Allen remains in the concussion protocol and will be handled on a day-to-day basis. The team is confident in backup Matt Barkley, should he have to start.
  • LB Cameron Wake (hamstring) missed practice. G Kevin Pamphile (knee) practiced for the first time since the regular season on a limited basis.
  • LT Taylor Lewan was a full-go in his first practice since returning to the Titans facility from his four-game suspension.

Cover image: Christopher Hanewinckel & Mark Konezny/USA Today
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