Buffalo Bills (3-5) at Tennessee Titans (2-6)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon)
PREDICTION: Titans 21-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans' ground game has become far more effective with Quarterback Vince Young adding another mobile threat. That presents a significant challenge for the Bills, who give up 173.6 rushing yards per game. Buffalo's defense is charge with stopping the run so it can force Young to attempt to move the ball through the air against a pass defense with an AFC-best 15 interceptions. Buffalo's Trent Edwards returns to the starting lineup for the Bills. More important, they want to get running back Marshawn Lynch more involved in the gameplan. For his part, Edwards must avoid his tendency to check down and attack Tennessee's weak pass defense vertically.
Need to know: Buffalo has failed to produce double-digit first downs in consecutive games for the first time since 1971. ... Young has won his past six games as a starter.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Bills: Just what the Bills defense needs: a game against the NFL's leading rusher.
Tennessee's Chris Johnson, a dynamic second-year pro, is almost halfway to 2,000 yards with 959 yards and six touchdowns. He's averaging a league-best 6.7 yards per carry.
Johnson has promised his linemen he'd buy them each a car if he becomes just the sixth player in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards rushing.
The Bills would like nothing better than to disrupt that quest. Buffalo is allowing 173.6 yards per game on the ground, worst in the league. Each of their last six opponents has topped 100 yards, including 222 by New Orleans, 250 by Miami and 318 by the New York Jets.
Buffalo's defense has been hit hard by injuries and could be without defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) and linebacker Keith Ellison (thigh) on Sunday. Aaron Schobel is nursing a groin pull and defensive backs Terrence McGee (knee), Jairus Byrd (groin) and Donte Whitner (ankle) are also hurting.
The Bills are so banged up, normal strong safety Bryan Scott could start at linebacker for them.
"He's just so fast and explosive," Bills coach Dick Jauron said of Johnson.
"When he gets that step, there doesn't seem to be another person on the field that can catch him. We're working hard on trying to figure out what we can do to try to slow him down at all."
Johnson doesn't sound like a player who is taking anything for granted against Buffalo.
"We're 2-6. ... We have to prepare like it is a playoff game," he said. "You lick your chops, but you know they are going to give you their 100 percent because they know we like to run the ball."
Titans: The Tennessee Titans will be without Justin Gage at least for this week and probably for a while longer, after tests revealed the receiver has multiple bone fractures in his lower back.
Gage sustained the injury as he landed on the ground at Candlestick Park last Sunday completing a leaping 33-yard catch that helped set up the winning touchdown in Tennessee's 34-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
"Justin Gage has multiple fractures of the transverse process bones. It's just a matter of healing. He is unlikely to play this week," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday. "He is getting better. Things have to settle down. He is obviously very uncomfortable."
In layman's terms, those are the bones that stick out on the left and right side of the spinal cord. The Titans have dealt with a similar situation before, as former linebacker Peter Sirmon suffered a similar injury during the 2003 season and missed two games.
"It's nothing neurological or nerve related, but it happens sometimes, especially with that type of impact," Fisher said.
Gage, who has 22 catches for 302 yards, had his best game of the season on Sunday with four catches for 97 yards.
With Gage out, the Titans will turn to rookie Kenny Britt as the starter on Sunday opposite Nate Washington. Tennessee also will probably need to make some sort of roster move, as they have only Lavelle Hawkins on the active roster behind Britt and Washington now. Dominique Edison, who was on the roster earlier this season, is on the practice squad.
Britt said he is preparing himself by watching film together with new starting quarterback Vince Young.
"He's showing me all the ropes. We're studying film together and he's showing me defenses and what I need to do," Britt said. "The first thing he said to me after the game when we knew Justin was hurt a little bit and he might not go, was, 'Hey, get ready and come watch some film with me.'"
Britt has 20 receptions for the Titans for 296 yards, but has only three catches in the past four games with limited work.