Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Prediction: Should We Expect a Shootout in Nashville?

NFL expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the Divisional Round matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans.
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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Prediction: Should We Expect a Shootout in Nashville?

The Tennessee Titans are arguably the least talked about No. 1 seed in recent playoff memory, as they quietly went about their business en route to a 12-5 regular season record. However, even to this point, oddsmakers are not believers in the Titans, as their +310 odds (according to DraftKings) are the third-lowest of any AFC team to win the conference.

Will Tennessee continue to prove doubters wrong? Or will Cincinnati extend their magical season with another strong performance from quarterback Joe Burrow? Let’s dive into our picks for the first game of the Divisional Round. 

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans INJURY REPORT

CINCINNATI

QUESTIONABLE: DE Trey Hendrickson, DT Mike Daniels

OUT: DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Josh Tupou, WR Stanley Morgan, CB Jalen Davis, OT Riley Reiff

TENNESSEE

Questionable: RB Derrick Henry, FB Tory Carter, 

OUT: TE MyCole Pruitt, WR Marcus Johnson, LB Monty Rice 

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Prediction

Cincinnati ended a 31-year playoff drought with their 26-19 win over the Raiders. They earned the victory despite Joe Burrow not having the gaudiest statistics, or at least the kind of numbers that we grew accustomed to him posting at the end of the regular season. Burrow’s 244 yards were his second-lowest in the last six games, but the more important thing is that he played turnover-free football. In fact, he has thrown 13 touchdowns since his last interception and has completed more than 70% of his passes in four of his previous five games, despite averaging more than ten yards per attempt. 

Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are quickly becoming one of the most electrifying quarterback-wide receiver combinations in the league. Chase turned in another solid performance against the Raiders, catching nine passes for 116 yards in his first playoff game. In Weeks 8-15, when targeting Chase, Burrow had a 30 QBR, completed 53% of his passes thrown to Chase, and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt. Since Week 16, while targeting Chase, Burrow’s QBR is 98, and he has completed 79% of his passes thrown his way while averaging 14.9 yards per attempt. In all, the duo has connected on 507 passing yards over their last three games.

Tennessee’s turning point of the season was when they rolled off five consecutive wins against teams that finished with winning records after starting 3-2. However, their secondary was susceptible to opposing No. 1 receivers in that dominant stretch of play. Stefon Diggs (9-89-1), Cooper Kupp (11-95-0), and Michael Pittman Jr. (10-86-2) all had success against them, while the only top receiver they limited in that span was Tyreek Hill, who they held to six catches and 49 yards. The Titans did not face a juggernaut of receivers in a division with the Jaguars and Texans, so that makes their 25th-ranked pass defense that allowed 245.2 yards per game through the air even more troubling.

Thus, there is a path for Cincinnati to score points. In addition, the Bengals pass defense is nothing spectacular either, ranking 26th in the league (allowing 248.4 yards per game) despite facing poor passing offenses of the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns six times. It does not help that one of the best pass rushers in the league, Trey Hendrickson, suffered a concussion in last week’s win over Las Vegas and will need to clear protocol to be active on Saturday. Hendrickson’s 54 quarterback pressures rank fourth in the league, and his potential absence would significantly impact Cincinnati’s pass rush.

Considering each team’s vulnerability to defend the pass, the over was already appealing, and the Titans may also be getting back All-Pro running back Derrick Henry. Though it is anyone’s guess if he will play or how he could impact the game, the fact that the Titans may have him in the backfield should do wonders to free up A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the perimeter.

The over is 6-1 in Cincinnati’s last seven games following straight-up wins and is 12-5-1 in Tennessee’s last 18 games against teams with winning records. With the warm weather in Nashville for this game, expect each offense to get comfortable throwing the ball, leading to a shootout.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Line Movement

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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