Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals


(image credit: Jim Brown - USA TODAY Sports)

Written by: Joseph Yun

Twitter: 2Yoon2ZeroBlitz


The Tennessee Titans travel to The Jungle in their first road game in a while to face the rebuilding but competitive Bengals. Can the Titans emerge victoriously and keep pacing the AFC South with Indianapolis breathing down their necks? Or can the wounded Bengals pull off the upset and keep hope for better days in the future with their talented signal-caller, Joe Burrow? Both teams are coming off dispiriting last gasp losses so who will be the mentally stronger team?


This article and future weekly articles were written with the assistance of the Blitzalytics Prospect Encyclopedia, which you can buy a PDF or hard cover copy here. The Encyclopedia has many features such as prospects, top team stars, and other countless data points to expand your knowledge of the game.


Note: all numbers courtesy of profootballreference.com


Key Numbers + Info (2020 season)

Record: 1-5-1 (0-3 AFC North)


Points scored: 163


PPG: 23.3


Points allowed: 194


PPGA: 27.7


Avg. yards per rush: 3.7


Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.9


Avg. rush yards per game: 99


Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 134


Rushing TDs: 7 for, 6 against


Avg. pass yards per game: 262.3


Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 261.4


Passing TDs: 9 for, 15 against


Pass Completion Rate: 67%


Pass Completion Rate Against: 64%


Top rusher: Joe Mixon (119 carries for 428 yards and three touchdowns)


Top receiver: Tyler Boyd (48 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns)


Top tackler: Vonn Bell (53 tackles)


Key Additions: S Vonn Bell, CB Mackensie Alexander, LB Josh Bynes, LB Markus Bailey (rookie), WR Tee Higgins (rookie), DE Khalid Kareem (rookie), QB Joe Burrow (rookie), OL Quinton Spain


Key Losses: DE Carlos Dunlap (traded), QB Andy Dalton, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, TE Tyler Eifert, OL Cordy Glenn, CB Trae Waynes (injured), CB Mackensie Alexander (injured), DE Sam Hubbard (injured), DL DJ Reader (injured), OL Xavier Su’a-Filo (injured), OT Isaiah Prince (opt-out)


Series History


The Titans lead the all-time series 40-34-1.


What Happened In The Last Game?


The Titans won a rather dull and drab November contest with a 24-20 comeback victory in 2017.


Keys to a Titans Victory


- Pass Rush - Let’s just say that the pass rush for the Titans has been anemic, to put it mildly. If there ever was a get-right game, this is it against a Bengals offensive line that’s missing multiple starters. The Bengals offensive line will be missing center Trey Hopkins, left tackle Jonah Williams, and right tackle Bobby Hart. Cincy will likely start unproven rookie Hakeem Adenji, inconsistent veteran Billy Price, and a guy named Fred Johnson in those roles. The opportunity for big-ticket signing Jadaveon Clowney getting his first sack of 2020 is a ripe one. Can the ragtag banged-up Bengals line keep the Titans at bay?


- Get Derrick Henry Going - While Henry has had his moments, he hasn’t been the Henry of old just yet. The Bengals are a serviceable run defense despite all the injuries on that side of the ball. The King definitely was “limited” against the Steelers but he did score during the furious second-half comeback. He should have a better time of things against a “lesser” opposing defense in Cincinnati.


- Mental Strength - The Bengals are wounded and in disarray, as star defensive end Carlos Dunlap was traded, WR John Ross wants a trade and hurt, and multiple players are injured, including star back Joe Mixon. The Titans are relatively healthy and in good spirits in comparison, despite the tough loss last week. Tennessee has proven that they can rely on Ryan Tannehill to lead them through tough times when Derrick Henry can’t get it going.


Keys to a Bengals Victory


- Get to Third Down - The Titans have been horrific on third-down defense, ranking near the bottom in most categories in this regard. They have allowed teams to convert over 60% on third downs of all distances but have been distressing on third down and longs in particular. It’s an open book at this point so the Bengals will look to manage it close on first and second downs.


- Joe Burrow - If the Bengals can keep him upright, the Bengals have a chance against one of the worst defenses in the league. He’s more than proven himself capable of playing well in less than ideal circumstances, which is the Bengals’ current lot in life. The Bengals have the perimeter weapons to take advantage of the Titans’ poor secondary that has missed cornerback Adoree Jackson dearly as his replacements (Jonathan Joseph, Chris Jackson, Tye Smith) are just that. To make matters even worse, the Titans will miss rookie standout Kristian Fulton for a few weeks. Tennessee would be wise to take the threat of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and running back Gio Bernard in the pass game seriously. There’s also the looming threat of the old wily veteran receiver A.J. Green as well.


Blitzalytics Prospect Encyclopedia Prospect of the Week


3. WR Tee Higgins


- Higgins has quietly assumed the WR2 duties after injuries and inconsistencies of both AJ Green and John Ross have limited them. He’s been steady for the reigning Heisman winner Burrow through the first seven games of their pairing. A bigger receiver with a growing understanding of the route tree so the Titans could be in trouble as they were with the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson. Watch for him to bust out again.


Injury Report

What are the odds?


(all odds are courtesy of vegasinsider.com)


Caesar’s has the Titans as 7 point favorites at -300 while the Bengals are +250 dogs. The over/under has been set at 51 even.


DraftKings has the Titans as 6.5 point favorites at -315 while the Bengals are +265 dogs. The over/under has been set at 51.5


The WestGate Superbook the Titans as 7 point favorites at -310 while the Bengals are +260 dogs. The over/under has been set at 50.5.


Prediction


TENNESSEE 35

Cincinnati 28


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