The Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills have a uniquely storied rivalry. Each team shares common ground in Super Bowl shortcomings and eras full of ups and downs, some could argue there has been more downs than ups, but that’s a discussion for another day.
For whatever reason, whenever these two teams get together, the game typically comes down to the last possession. It all started back when the two teams clashed for the first time in the 1999 AFC Wild Card Game when the Titans came out on top by the score of 22-16 in a game that would go down as one of the best finishes in the 100-year history of the NFL. Twenty years later and the Music City Miracle is still a play that Titans fans won’t let the Buffalo faithful soon forget – and for good reason.
Wild Card Playoff Game ✅
Down to the final seconds 😬
Then THIS happened 😲
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) October 18, 2018
That game back in January of 2000 was the first of 10 matchups between the two teams as they are known today. As one pores through the storied history between these two squads, there is one similarity in nearly all of the games – they’re almost all decided by seven points or less. Only one game finished outside that margin. In those 10 meetings, the Titans hold a 6-4 record over the Bills despite Buffalo winning the last three times these two have linked up.
While the games of the past no doubt induced heart palpitations in the fans of both teams, Titans and Bills fans are getting accustomed to the feeling. These two fan bases strap themselves in every Sunday for an emotionally draining rollercoaster that is the 2020 NFL season. In fact, the Bills and Titans are both 3-0 in one-score ball games up to this point in the 2020 season.
When observing this Titans team since Mike Vrabel took over as head coach in 2018, playing in tight games seems to be a strength. The Titans hold an 11-6 record, including 1-0 in the playoffs, in games decided by seven points or less since Vrabel has been in charge. For those without a calculator, that’s 35 percent!
That other game? The Titans won 41-17…wearing Oilers throwbacks. pic.twitter.com/mZp5k4duKV
— Titans Uni Tracker (@TitansUni) October 12, 2020
The Bills are a similar team in part because they often find themselves in nerve-wracking scenarios that both teams’ fans have become all too familiar with. In that same time frame, the Bills boast a 9-10 record in these battles decided by seven points or less. That means that the Bills have found themselves in this precarious position in 40 percent of their games since 2018.
The Titans appear to be built for late game theatrics as well as any team in the NFL. Leaning on an All-Pro running back in Derrick Henry, the Titans can drain a clock with the best of them. Henry’s power through the middle and speed around the edges is an advantage that almost seems unfair at times. Since winning so many close games, this Titans team appears numb to pressure late in ball games.
The ability to be cool, calm, and collected in some of the most tense late-game situations is becoming muscle memory for this team. Although the Titans will likely be down a few key players, the folks down in the desert believe Tuesday Night’s game will be another one of those classic Titans-Bills barnburners.
The most likely candidates based on the order that they tested positive (which is not going to be a perfect system, but it's the best info that we've got right now):
OLB Kamalei Correa
CB Kristian Fulton
WR Adam Humphries
WR Cam Batson
DL Jeffery Simmons
FB Khari Blasingame https://t.co/QwdRdnevzB
— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) October 12, 2020
It should come as no surprise that Las Vegas oddsmakers are setting the spread at 3.5-points in favor of Buffalo, but history tells us that these gritty one-possession games usually favor the Titans.
Featured image courtesy of Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports