Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Tennessee Titans Betting Odds
The first divisional-round matchup in the AFC features two up-and-coming teams attempting to dispel the notion that they don’t deserve to be two wins away from a Super Bowl championship. However, advanced metrics would suggest that is the case as the Titans and Bengals rank in the bottom half of the league in overall DVOA per Football Outsiders. Per that site’s estimated win totals, the Titans and Bengals are two of the teams that overperformed the most as they should have been closer to 8 wins. Nonetheless, they are playing in the divisional round for the right to take on the Chiefs or Bills in the AFC Championship. This game serves as a tantalizing appetizer to an epic week of football, and there should be plenty of enticing betting angles to explore.
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Tennessee Titans Injury Report
Cincinnati Bengals: DE Trey Hendrickson (concussion) Q
Tennessee Titans: DT Teair Tart (ankle) Q
Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds
Sports media tend to overreact to the excellent play of an up-and-coming young player to the point of detriment. That being said, I’m going to do precisely that when I say Joe Burrow is a future MVP candidate and Ja’Marr Chase is on the verge of becoming one of the best wideouts in the league. It took virtually no time for the duo to make a massive impact on this season, and Burrow finished the regular season as PFF’s top-rated quarterback. The game against the Raiders didn’t require a ton of passing production from Cincinnati, but they’re capable of catching fire at a moment’s notice, and this matchup should work to their benefit. The Bengals ranked fifth in the NFL in points per play during the regular season, and they’re going to present many matchup problems for the Titans. Tee Higgins has gotten better as he’s gotten healthier throughout the season, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better WR3 than Tyler Boyd. The absence of Riley Reiff is significant, but the Bengals did a great job of getting the ball out of Burrow’s hands quickly last week and I’d argue the Raiders have a much better pass rush than the Titans.
Defensively, the Bengals are worlds better this year than they were last year. Trey Hendrickson has a whopping 14 sacks in his first season with the team, while Chidobe Awuzie has been one of the most consistent coverage corners in the league. Eli Apple had a solid game against the Raiders last week, but he’s prone to lapses in focus in coverage, and if the Titans have A.J. Brown and Julio Jones at 100% this week, it’s going to be a challenging task for Apple to hold up. The Bengals ranked 13th in the regular season in rush defense DVOA, but the loss of Larry Ogunjobi last week could be problematic. Ogunjobi finished the regular season with seven sacks and tied for a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss. Last week, Cincinnati allowed Josh Jacobs to run at an elite 6.4 YPC clip, and they have to be stronger up front with Derrick Henry’s potential return this week.
Tennessee Titans Betting Odds
The early updates have been very encouraging, and it sounds like this week should mark the return of King Henry, arguably the best running back in the NFL. D’Onta Foreman has done a solid job in relief of Henry this season, but the Titans ranked second in the NFL in rushing DVOA and just 17th this year. With a less dominant ground game, defenses have been able to commit more resources to slow down Ryan Tannehill in the passing game. With a fully healthy skill position group, the Titans will hope that they can keep Tannehill upright – they allowed 47 sacks in the regular season, the seventh-most in the NFL. A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have rarely been healthy at the same time this year, but they are both good to go for this game and should have benefitted from the bye week leading up to it. With Henry sucking the Bengals’ defense closer to the line of scrimmage, Tannehill should have the most room he’s had all year to make plays with open receivers.
Tennessee’s defense has performed better than the advanced stats suggest it should have. The Titans ranked 12th in defensive DVOA, but they allowed just 20.8 points per game, the sixth-fewest in the league. This year, some of the highlight performances have been holding the Chiefs to 3 points, the Rams to 16, and the shutout against the Jaguars. However, Tennessee’s secondary has suffered at times, and they allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the regular season. Second-year pro Kristian Fulton and rookie Elijah Molden have emerged as consistent cornerbacks as the season has gone on. At the same time, veteran Kevin Byard is arguably the best safety in football. However, the key for the Titans this week will be finding a way to get consistent pressure on Joe Burrow to force him into quick decisions, and that means they have to get more out of high-priced offseason signing Bud Dupree. However, the Titans were the only team in the regular season with three players to have 8+ sacks in Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry, and Denico Autry. There may not be the household names on this defense, but they’re extremely well-coached and solid across the board.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans Picks & Prediction
All eyes will be on Derrick Henry in his return to the lineup for Tennessee, but it remains to be seen if he will be at his best after not playing for the last several weeks. If he can be even 70% of the monster he usually is, there should be plenty of opportunities for A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the outside. Even if Henry has to split carries with D’Onta Foreman, I love what we’ve seen from Foreman over the second half of the season. There’s a path to victory for the Bengals this week that almost entirely stems from Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase continuing to set the world on fire. However, pass protection could be an issue with Riley Reiff out, and a couple of turnovers on offense from a young team would not be shocking.
There’s a bit of energy surrounding this Titans team right now that makes me love them at home as a “nobody believes in us” type of team. The Bengals celebrated like they won the Super Bowl after they beat the Raiders for their first playoff win in decades, and they’re still such a young team that isn’t nearly as battle-tested. Mike Vrabel is arguably the best head coach in the NFL right now, and he’ll have his guys ready to play coming off the bye week. The Titans are thinking Super Bowl right now, and after waffling all week on this game, I’m backing the team that has proven it can win big games.
My Predictions: Titans win 23-17, Titans cover, under 47 points
Best Bet: Titans ML, Titans -3