The Cincinnati Bengals’ miraculous run to Super Bowl 56 was highlighted by three thrilling wins in the AFC playoffs, including a 19-16 thriller with the Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee came into the postseason as the AFC’s top seed, while the Bengals were coming off their first playoff win in over three decades. It was a near-miraculous effort for the Bengals to win despite allowing Joe Burrow to be sacked nine times while finishing with a putrid 28.3 QBR.
Thankfully, the Bengals secondary picked off Ryan Tannehill three times, including Logan Wilson’s last-minute pick that set up the Bengals’ game-winning field goal.
While the Bengals defense played admirably, they did allow A.J. Brown and Julio Jones to burn them for 208 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches (16 targets).
However, both receivers are gone now, as Jones was a cap casualty, while Brown was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Titans attempted to replace a big chunk of the latest production with veteran wideout Robert Woods, who was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. But Woods is coming off a torn ACL suffered in a November practice and is now 30 years old while having just two seasons of 1,000+ yards entering his 10th NFL season.
Tennessee also added Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks with the 18th pick in this year’s NFL Draft. While Burks and Woods could prove to be a formidable duo, I don’t think they’ll be as good as the Brown/Jones tandem were against the Bengals.
The biggest difference in this rematch should be the health of Derrick Henry, who clearly wasn’t 100% against the Bengals following a long layoff due to a broken bone suffered in his foot in Week 8. If he’s healthy, Henry should still be one of the NFL’s best running backs and a major test for a Bengals defense ranked fifth in rushing yards allowed per game last season.
Tennessee actually had a big day on the ground thanks to D’Onta Foreman going for 66 yards on just six carries. But take away his 45-yard run, and the Titans only mustered up 95 yards on 26 carries.
Expect Tennessee to play with a lot of fire in this one in hopes of getting revenge on the Bengals. But as long as the Bengals offensive line holds up, it’s hard to ever pick Tannehill against Burrow.
ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 46.7% chance to win.
My prediction: Bengals 30, Titans 24
My predicted record thus far: 10-1
Now, sound off on how you see this one playing out!