Week 12 of this NFL season gives us a long-awaited rematch between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tennessee Titans. Both teams come into this week with a win percentage over .500, yet both teams also have been a little underwhelming so far this season. As the Bengals sit behind the Baltimore Ravens in their divisional standings, this game against a beatable Titans team feels like a must-win, and here’s what the Bengals need to do to make that happen.
Light Up the Sky
The Titans have had one of the worst defenses against the pass all season long. They currently have given up the sixth most passing yards in the league, as well as the fourth most passing touchdowns in the league. The Bengals conveniently get Ja’Marr Chase back from injury this week, who had over 100 yards receiving in the Divisional Round game versus the Titans last season as a rookie. The Bengals are heading into this contest without Joe Mixon, who has been ruled out (concussion) for this bout. The Titans have a top two performing defense against the run, so with backup Samaje Perine starting in Mixon’s place, expect Joe Burrow to throw and throw and throw again all game long.
Dethrone the King
It’s no secret that the Titans’ offense flows directly through their monster running back, Derrick Henry. Henry often gets better as the game goes on, as his career yards per carry steadily increase with every additional carry he gets per game. When the Bengals beat the Titans in January, they held Henry to 62 rush yards, with only 3.1 yards per carry. With Ryan Tannehill’s lackluster performances so far this season, the Bengals should not be worried about losing to the Titans air attack. It’s similar to when NBA teams will slack off of players like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Draymond Green. It’s always better to allow those players to shoot the ball because they are so much more dangerous when attacking in other ways. Tannehill’s most dangerous attribute is the way he majestically hands the ball off to Henry, so let’s force him to throw the ball as many times as possible instead.
Dominate the Second Half
Football is often referred to as a game of inches, but it is also a game of adjustments. Throughout the game, coaches and players are asked to tweak their game plans constantly, as both teams are playing a mental chess match that you can’t see by looking at a box score. A big moment for teams and players to adjust is when the second half begins. Halftime is when both sides try to find weaknesses within their opponents and try to capitalize. Through 11 weeks this season, the Bengals have scored the ninth most number of points in the second half of games, with an average of 11.8 points. The Titans rank 31st in the same category, with only 5.6 points in the second half per game. We’ve witnessed Burrow set scoreboards on fire late in games time and time again, the Bengals will need more of the same this Sunday if they hope to beat the Titans.