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Week 12 Preview - Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals



(Mandatory Photo Credit: George Walker IV / tennessean.com / USA Today Sports)


Written By: Joseph Yun


Well, here we are again at the scene of the dastardly and craven crime where the Bengals upset the then top seeded Titans last season. Can the Titans and Ryan Tannehill expunge some spectral horrors of years past and beat the jungle cats of the Queen City? Will Joe Burrow continue his good run of form and resuscitate the Bengals playoff chances? How long can the Titans hold on with all these injuries? This is the best game on Sunday’s slate between two AFC contenders.


Bengals’ key numbers + info

Note: All statistics courtesy of pro-football-reference.com


HC: Zac Taylor (22-36-1 career)


OC: Brian Callahan


DC: Lou Anarumo


2022 Record: 6-4 (1-3 AFC North)


PPG: 26.5


PPG Against: 21.5


Rush yards: 951


Rush yards allowed: 1,171


Avg. per rush attempt: 3.9


Avg per attempt allowed: 4.4


Pass completion rate: 72%


Pass completion allowed: 58%


Leading Rusher: Joe Mixon (158 attempts for 605 yards and six touchdowns; 41 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns)


Leading Receiver: Tee Higgins (50 receptions for 712 yards and three touchdowns)


Leading Tackler: Germaine Pratt (68 tackles; four passes defended, four tackles for loss, one interception, one sack)


Key Additions: OL La’el Collins, OL Alex Cappa, TE Hayden Hurst, CB Cam Taylor-Britt (rookie), OL Cordell Volson (rookie), OL Max Scharping, DT Zach Carter (rookie)


Key Losses: DE Wyatt Hubert (retired), DT Larry Ogunjobi, CB Chidobe Awuzie (IR), RB Joe Mixon (injured), S Dax Hill (rookie / injured), OT Riley Reiff, CB Vernon Hargreaves III, OL Quinton Spain


Series History

The Titans lead the all-time series 40-36-1. These two franchises have played 16 times since the 1999 season since the Nashville-based organization's renaming. Tennessee has won 9 of the 16, scoring a margin of 353 to 340. The average margin of victory has been 13 points for either side. In their nine wins, the Titans averaged a margin of 11 points. In their seven losses, the average margin of defeat was a shade over 12 points. Since the 2011 season, the Bengals have won four of the past five matchups.


Keys to a Titans Victory

Mental Management


- This week has been a distraction as OC Todd Downing was arrested last Friday morning for DUI. For a team that preaches discipline and accountability, it’s a hammer blow to that ethos. Can both Downing and the team recover from a week of answering questions about his off-field conduct? Also, Coach Vrabel has stated that this isn’t a revenge game for last season’s bitter playoff loss. The thought has to be in the back of everyone’s minds though. Especially Ryan Tannehill after being the decisive factor in the playoff loss. He needs to play within himself and not press.


Rediscover the run


- The run game behind Derrick Henry has gone missing somewhat the past couple of games as the Tennessee has rediscovered its passing attack. The Bengals have a somewhat suspect run defense this season after giving up multiple 100+ yard efforts this season. They’re allowing 4.4 yards per attempt on the season. It’s not like the Bengals are devoid of run stopping talent, either. Tennessee getting DJ Reader blocked up is crucial towards their efforts in getting Henry going. Can they restart El Tractorcito’s engine on the ground?


Injury Management


- Tennessee is getting healthier with key pieces like Amani Hooker, Jeffery Simmons, and Elijah Molden, and Ben Jones returning or being load managed. The biggest loss is woefully underrated star lineman Denico Autry going down last week. He is the glue that keeps a dominant front together so it remains to be seen if the Titans can cobble something together. Good news is that the Titans are known for developing unknown role players to play bigger roles. The secondary is a constant worry as Kristian Fulton is in and out of the lineup. This week is a bigger concern as the Bengals have a bevy of assets and have regained their footing the pass attack. Can the Titans get it together to MacGyver their defense to yet another win?


Keys to a Bengals Victory

Keep on Keeping On


- The passing game has exploded on offense the past couple of weeks after being muted somewhat for several weeks prior. They have won four of the past five, scoring more than 30 points in those wins while dealing with key injuries to Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase. Joe Burrow turned into Joe Burreaux again even without the services of Chase who should be good to go on Sunday. Can they keep up the torrid pace against a dominant defense looking for blood and vengeance?


Run. Da. Bawl.


- While the passing game is seemingly back on track, the run game has struggled to get going this season. The Bengals have surpassed the 100-yard mark on the ground only three times in ten tries to date collectively. Unfortunately, the task is a tough one this week as one of the league’s best rush defenses awaits. Tennessee’s defense has allowed an anemic 60 yards per game on the ground in the eight games since starting 0-2. They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since week one against the all-world star Saquon Barkley. What’s even more important for Cincy is the health of Joe Mixon who was concussed last week. So all this to say, it would be perfectly natural for a possibly Mixon-less Bengals running game to go off this Sunday.


Matchups in the Trenches


- Cincy has a pair of talented edge rushers in Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Tennessee has one of the worst left tackles, nay, tackles in football in the form of Dennis Daley. It will be interesting to see how he fares against this fearsome duo and if the Titans help him. The right side of the Titans’ front has been stable despite starting rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle. If Cincinnati wants to win up front, they need to heavily invest in targeting the glaring weakness that is Tennessee’s left side. Defensively, the Titans boast quite the pass rushing arsenal to combat the Bengals still shaky offensive line. They come in waves of rising stars like Rashad Weaver, journeymen Mario Edwards + DeMarcus Walker, and are adept at fitting them in whenver and wherever.


Injury Report - Bengals @ Titans



What are the Odds?

(note: all odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com)


BetMGM has the Bengals being 2.5 point favorites at -115, the money line at -145 for Cincinnati, and the Titans at +120. over/under is set at 43.5.


Caesar’s has the Bengals being three-point favorites at +120, the money line being -145 for Cincinnati, and the Titans being at +122. The over/under is set at 43.5.


WynnBet has the Bengals being three-point favorites at +100, the money line being -145 for Cincinnati, and the Titans being at +123. The over/under is set at 43.5.


FanDuel has the Bengals being 2.5 point favorites at -115, the money line being -152 for the Cincinnati, and the Titans being +128. over/under is set at 43.5


Media Picks









Prediction


CINCINNATI 24


Tennessee 21



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