You have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on the back end of the Buffalo Bills defense. And even then, you'd better give the players a look they haven't seen.
That could be tough, given how long safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have been in the NFL (nine years apiece) and how many games they've started together in Buffalo's secondary since joining the team in 2017.
In short, they've seen it all and have done a pretty good job defending it all, particularly this season and particularly against long passes.
In five games, the Bills have surrendered just seven passes for 20 yards or more. Only one of those, a screen that Washington's Antonio Gibson turned into a 73-yard touchdown in Week 3, reached the end zone. In the same game, a 17-yard completion to tight end Logan Thomas ended with cornerback Tre'Davious White punching the ball out on the tackle for a takeaway.
Going over the top of the Bills' defense certainly isn't impossible, just highly improbable, given the usually perfect positioning of their safeties in Buffalo's regular zone schemes, a resurgent pass rush and sticky coverage by cornerbacks White, Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson.
Hyde last Sunday night provided a Pick-6 against the Kansas City Chiefs in a 38-20 romp.
The tricky challenge this week against the Tennessee Titans will be to keep the back end covered while also being available for run support against the biggest, strongest bulldozer of a running back in the league, Derrick Henry, who goes 6-3, 250 and has just as much speed as he does power.
Henry led the league in rushing in each of the previous two seasons and is leading it again this year with 640 yards on 142 attempts. His seven rushing TDs also lead the league, putting him on pace to finish with more than 20 for the first time in his career.
As such, the Titans can sell play-action perhaps easier than any team.
"I just think that with the running back that they have, I think that their play-action is always going to be efficient," Hyde said. "They have a run game that is dangerous. [Henry] can take it anytime to the house, so you've always got to be aware of that, you always got to know that he's capable of doing that.
"So any time they run play-action, it's effective."
But getting explosive plays on this defense still is extremely difficult, thanks in part to the alert play of Poyer and Hyde. Hyde and linebacker Matt Milano after Week 4 were named to Pro Football Focus's First-Quarter All-Pro Team.
"Few players are as consistently good across the board as Hyde, who is off to another excellent start in 2021," the report stated. "Hyde has at least above-average PFF grades in every facet of play, including rushing the passer on the blitz, where he has a sack and two total pressures from five rushes. Hyde has racked up seven defensive stops, two picks and a pass breakup to go along with those pressures."
Hyde added his Pick-6 at Kansas City and now has had an interception in three straight games.
This is what the banged-up Titans, who blew out the Bills by 26 points last year, will be up against Monday night.