Mike Vrabel’s team is back in action this weekend, as they’ll hit the road to take on the young and exciting Cincinnati Bengals.
The message for the Titans should be clear.
Take care of business against a bad team and get back to Nashville with a bounce back victory. This won’t be easy though, since the Bengals possess a couple of key advantages offensively that could give the Titans’ defense some fits.
I can’t spoil too much of the content though, so let’s just jump right into it.
Major Storylines Heading Into The Game
Titans Looking to Rebound After a Tough Loss to Pittsburgh
Rebounding after a loss hasn’t been a necessary action for the Titans this year, well until last Sunday’s result against Pittsburgh.
Mike Vrabel’s team was 5-0, riding an explosive, high powered offense into a matchup against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Titans did fight back to make it a game in the 2nd half, they ultimately ended up being handed their first loss of the year, with Stephen Gostkowski missing a potential late game tying field goal that would’ve sent the game into overtime.
2 straight games with a missed field goal for Gostkowski.
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) October 25, 2020
Even with the loss coming in somewhat of a heartbreaking fashion, you don’t have time to sulk over an early season loss, especially in the NFL.
The marathon continues whether you like it or not, a mindset I’m 100% sure the Titans have engraved into mind of every last player, coach, and executive they have.
That marathon will continue tomorrow, when the Titans take on a youthful Bengals team that’s full of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
While the Titans’ defense could run into some trouble, especially with the depth Cincinnati has at wide receiver, it’s still a great chance for the Titans to beat up on a bad team and add another W into the win column.
Joe Burrow Continues to Lead the Rookie of The Year Race
If you know me, you know how much I drooled over Joe Burrow during his record breaking final season at LSU.
Okay I didn’t actually drool, but watching Burrow and that LSU offense dominate week after week was nothing short of a treat.
Now with the Bengals, Burrow isn’t finding the same amount of success he had at LSU in terms of winning, but he’s still putting up numbers that have him squarely in front of the ROTY race.
Burrow has thrown for a little over 2000 yards, along with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He faced somewhat of a learning curve earlier on in the year, but he’s upped his game a tad recently, throwing for 300 yards and a touchdown in 2 of the last 4 games he’s played.
Burrow isn’t some insane world beater by any means just yet, but he looks the part of a quarterback who’ll be rocking a Bengals jersey for years to come.
Now if he could only start receiving some protection from his offensive line.
That Bengals offensive line is the only thing that concerns about Burrow’s rookie year.
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) September 13, 2020
Matchups to Watch
Bengals WR’s vs. Titans CB’s
If you’ve been watching the Titans through the first 7 weeks of the season, you should know the overwhelming weakness they possess at the corner.
Without Adoree Jackson, the Titans have been forced to abandon much in the way of bump and run coverage, therefore exposing massive amounts of space underneath for opposing offenses to work with. Even when the Titans’ corners have kept plays in front of them, they’ve failed to consistently finish plays by tackling guys in space.
That spells trouble against a Bengals passing offense that likes to heavily incorporate short and intermediate routes each and every week. AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins all have a knack for turning those short gains into bigger plays that can give you fits as a defense. Even when Cincinnati does take shots down the field, those 3 guys all have the ability to go up and haul in those flashy contested catches.
Taking the “bend but don’t break” mindset and amplifying it will be key for the Titans if they want to limit the damage on the defensive side of the ball. I’m not so confident in this defense’s ability to completely shut down offenses, but I believe they’re still capable of cutting down the number of points they’ve been prone to giving up so far in 2020.
It’ll be difficult to do so, since they’re already down 2 corners in Adoree Jackson and Kristian Fulton, but it’s certainly doable.
The corner depth will be tested, but if the lid can be sealed on the plays these Bengals wideouts can rip off, this Titans defense won’t have too bad of a day.
Titans EDGE Rushers vs. Bengals OT’s
I went with 2 defensive specific matchups this time, and it’s for good reason.
The Bengals will be without their 2 starting tackles in Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart, along with their starting center in Trey Hopkins.
News like that should have the Titans’ pass rush salivating.
It’s no secret that the Titans have failed to find a consistent pass rush this season. With only 7 total team sacks, and average pressure numbers to their name, this game could be one to get the pass rush going early and often.
Cincinnati Bengals: Geno Atkins
This Bengals defense is bad, but Geno Atkins remains as one of the few bright spots that you can rely on for proven, consistent play.
He’ll be in the thick of things in attempting to slow down a rather potent Titans offense. Atkins is still an elite pass rusher as an interior defensive lineman, and has continued to make plays happen as a run defender. Taking him out of the equation will be key for this Titans offensive line, and will be a big step forward towards getting back in the win column.
Tennessee Titans: Jadeveon Clowney
I’ll double dip with the Titans’ pass rush and pick Jadeveon Clowney as an X-factor here.
Clowney has put up the usual pressure numbers we’ve come to expect from him, but he’s put up a big fat zero in the sack column. Giving him a game to get going against a Bengals offensive line without 2 of their usual starters at tackle, is something you will take 10 times out of 10.
Now it’s only up to Clowney to win his matchup and finally give this Titans pass rush a reason to feel confident moving forward.
The Titans should have no business losing this game.
They’re better than the Bengals in all three phases of the game, even with the weaknesses that reside on the defensive side of the ball.
Cincinnati has been able to keep games close all year though, so I don’t imagine this game being some sort of blowout.
I’ll take the Titans in this one.