Two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak rocked the Tennessee Titans and wreaked havoc on the NFL, football is returning to Nashville.
After the Titans’ Week 4 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed, this week’s game against the Buffalo Bills was in jeopardy thanks to several additional COVID-19 cases on top of the eight that forced the team to shut down team facilities on Sept. 29.
Reports of some players breaking NFL and basic pandemic safety protocols by holding informal workouts after the outbreak didn’t help their cause.
No new COVID-19 cases for Titans on Monday
A Titans staffer tested positive on Sunday. But with no new COVID-19 cases among players on Monday, the Titans are scheduled to move forward with their matchup against the Bills in a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
Game moved to Tuesday because of Titans outbreak
It will be a rare Tuesday game in the NFL — just the second since 1946. Both teams enter the game undefeated in a matchup that could end up playing a role in playoff seeding.
The Bills have been on a roll with quarterback Josh Allen’s emerging MVP candidacy perhaps the biggest surprise of the NFL season. In leading the Bills to a 4-0 start, Allen has thrown for 12 touchdowns and just one interception while averaging 331.5 passing yards per game.
The production for the third-year quarterback is a massive jump over the 193.1 yards per game he averaged last season. And it’s thanks in large part to significant improvement on the attribute that’s been his biggest knock since he was a divisive prospect coming out of Wyoming — accuracy.
What’s led to Josh Allen’s emergence?
After completing 52.8 percent and 58.8 percent of his passes during his first two seasons, Allen is connecting on 70.9 percent of his attempts through four games. He’s made the jump from subpar to elite, and it’s paid off in a perfect start for the Bills.
With the offseason addition of deep threat Stefon Diggs proving an ideal complement to Allen’s big arm, the Bills passing game is one of the NFL’s most dangerous.
It will prove a daunting task for a Titans unit coming off two weeks of closed facilities and canceled practices — not to mention multiple players recovering from COVID-19.
What should be expected of Titans after outbreak?
Prior to the outbreak, the Titans focused on ball control behind Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry while leveraging a plus-five turnover differential into a 3-0 start.
Just like last season, the offense in Tennessee runs through Henry, who has tallied 319 rushing yards and two touchdowns in three games. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has picked up where he left off when he emerged as the starter for a Titans team that advanced to the AFC championship game last season. In three games, he’s thrown six touchdowns and just one interception while averaging 269.7 yard per game.
But the defense isn’t as stout as it was last year. While it’s effectively forced turnovers, it’s also given up 30 points in back-to-back games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings. Allen’s offense will put this unit to the test.
Add in the factor that nobody really knows what to expect from a team on other side of a COVID-19 outbreak, and Tuesday’s game will prove an even tougher task for the Titans.
With the team facing league discipline for breaking COVID-19 protocols and general manager Jon Robinson admitting on Monday that not everybody on the team bothers to wear a mask, just getting to the field on Tuesday would add up to a win for the Titans.
They and the NFL will have to hope the decision doesn’t make things worse.
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