Divisional Round Game Hub: CIN-TEN


We hope you're enjoying this old content for FREE. You can view more current content marked with a FREE banner, but you'll have to sign up in order to access our other articles and content!

Divisional Round Game Hub: CIN-TEN

Cincinnati Bengals (11-7, 11-7 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (12-5, 10-7), 4:30 p.m., Saturday

Brolley’s Bengals Stats and Trends

  • The Bengals are coming off of their first postseason victory since the 1990 season.

  • The Bengals head into the Divisional Round having won and covered in five straight games.

  • They’ve also covered four straight games as a road underdog and they’re 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games.

  • Cincinnati is 6-2 toward unders in its last eight games as an underdog.

  • Joe Burrow led the offense to scores on their first four drives against Las Vegas, but the Bengals did settle for four field goals overall in their 26-19 victory as six-point home favorites. He cooled off a bit last week for his lofty standards, averaging 7.2 YPA on his way to 244/2 passing against the Raiders. Burrow has accounted for multiple TD passes in three straight games, and the Titans allowed Davis Mills to post 301/3 passing for 27.2 FP in the season finale.

  • Ja’Marr Chase went off for 9/116 receiving on 12 targets in his postseason debut, which gives him a ridiculous 27/507/3 receiving in his last three full games. He also has 5+ catches and 50+ yards in five of his last six full games. The Titans allowed the second-most FPG (41.2) to WRs this season.

  • Tee Higgins flopped in his matchup with Casey Hayward and company last week, hauling just a 10-yard catch on four targets. He’s posted three or fewer catches and five or fewer targets in three of his last four games, with the lone exception being his monster 12/194/2 receiving performance against the Ravens in Week 16. The Titans allowed a generous 12.9 YPR and the second-most receiving yards per game (188.8) to WRs this season.

  • Tyler Boyd has scored in four straight games after finding the end zone in just two of his first 13 games. He’s seen 5-7 targets in six straight games but his yardage has dipped in four consecutive games (96>85>36>26) with Chase dominating in recent weeks. Danny Amendola ripped the Titans for 7/113/2 receiving in the season finale, and they allowed the second-most catches per game (14.6)

  • C.J. Uzomah snapped a nine-game scoreless drought with a seven-yard score last week and he finished with a season-high six catches for 64 yards in their victory over the Raiders last week. The Titans haven’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Jack Doyle found paydirt in Week 8, and they’re allowing the fifth-fewest FPG (8.7) to TEs.=

  • Joe Mixon is coming off a disappointing performance against the Raiders, posting 17/48 rushing and 4/28 receiving in the Wild Card Round. He’s failed to score in four of his last five games after finding paydirt in 8-of-9 games in Weeks 4-13. Mixon hasn’t averaged more than 3.8 YPC in any game since RT Riley Reiff left the lineup with his ankle injury in Week 13. He’s bested that average in eight of his first 11 games this season, and he’s averaging just 3.3 YPC in his last six contests. The Titans allowed 3.8 YPC and the second-fewest rushing yards per game (63.9) to RBs this season.

Brolley’s Titans Stats and Trends

  • Mike Vrabel’s team has been the best with extra time to prepare since he took the Titans job in 2018, sporting a perfect 8-0 outright and ATS record when coming off a bye or a Thursday night game.

  • The Titans are 4-1 toward unders in their last five games, and they’ve played under the total in four straight home games.

  • Tennessee is 6-2 ATS in its last eight home games

  • The Titans eked out the one seed despite using an NFL-high 91 players this season and finishing with the AFC’s sixth-best point differential at +65.

  • The Titans will likely get their most important player back for their postseason run with Derrick Henry returning to practice the last three weeks. Henry’s initial recovery timeline was set at 6-10 weeks, and he’ll be about 12 weeks removed from his foot surgery this weekend so it looks like he’ll be back barring a setback. He still finished ninth in rushing yards (219/937/10 rushing) despite missing the final nine games of the season. His primary replacement, D’Onta Foreman, matched Henry’s 4.3 YPC average this season, and Dontrell Hilliard has provided a spark as a change-of-pace option with a 6.3 YPA. The Bengals lost DT Larry Ogunjobi to a season-ending foot injury last week, and DE Trey Hendrickson (concussion) and backup DT Mike Daniels (groin) left the Wild Card Round with injuries, as well. Hendrickson practiced early in the week, which is a good sign that he’ll be available for Saturday’s showdown. Josh Jacobs posted 13/83 rushing and 4/44 receiving in this matchup last week.

  • Ryan Tannehill will finally have his full cast of weapons at his disposal once again with Henry returning to the lineup. He’s coming off his best fantasy performance of the year with 287/4 passing for 27.3 FP against the Texans, which was just the fourth time he reached 19+ FP in 17 games. Derek Carr needed 54 attempts to reach 310 yards (5.7 YPA) against the Bengals last week with one TD and one INT.

  • A.J. Brown has been all over the map with his performances heading into the postseason. He’s finished with single-digit FP in seven of his 13 games this season, and he’s reached 14.9+ FP in his other six contests. He managed 4/68/1 receiving on six targets against the Texans in the season finale. Zay Jones finished with 5/61/1 receiving against the Bengals in the Wild Card Round.

  • Julio Jones showed some signs of life in the season finale with his second-best performance of the season, posting 5/58/1 receiving on a season-high nine targets. It was the first time he reached 5+ catches and/or 40+ yards since Week 6, and he played 68% of the snaps, which was his second-best snap share since the first two weeks of the season. Bryan Edwards finished with 3/41 receiving on six targets in this matchup last week.

  • Anthony Firkser had his best game of the season in the season finale, posting a season-high 56 receiving yards on his way to 4/56/1 receiving on a 34% snap share. He scored his only two touchdowns of the season in the last two games of the season. The Bengals allowed the seventh-most FPG (14.8) to TEs in the regular season, and Darren Waller went for 7/76 receiving on 12 targets last week.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies


Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.9 (27th)

Plays per game: 64.3 (23rd)

Pass: 61.5% (14th) | Run: 38.5% (19th)


Pace: 28.7 (20th)

Plays per game: 69.7 (6th)

Pass: 54.4% (30th) | Run: 45.6% (3rd)

Pace Points

The key for the Bengals this week is to not become obsessed with “balance” since Joe Burrow is playing like an MVP. I thought the Bengals could have (should have) buried the Raiders last week if they kept their foot on the gas. Instead, HC Zac Taylor and OC Brian Callahan went 58% pass | 42% run on early-downs despite those 1st and 2nd down runs gaining a putrid 3.1 YPC. Looking even further under the hood, the Bengals called 12 passes to 8 runs on early-downs in the second half and those runs gained just 2.5 YPC. Big yikes.

While I’m not yet convinced that HC Zac Taylor and OC Brian Callahan are sharp enough to take the Bengals to the next level, this spot screams for them to go pass-heavy by the numbers. Titans’ opponents have called a pass against them 63.8% of the time when the game is within a score, which was the fourth-highest rate. For reference, only the Buccaneers (69.3%), Ravens (64.9%), and Washington (64.2%) saw more passes against them in close games as Tampa and Baltimore struggled with injuries all year and Washington just plain struggled. This is the test for this Bengals staff.

As for the Titans, well… You know. If the King is back, he’s getting the rock. I don’t think the Titans are going to be foolish with Derrick Henry and give him his normal 22-25 carries – but you had better believe they are going to do what they do here. Even with Henry missing the back half of the season, the Titans stuck to their plan and were top-10 in run rate in all game situations (one-score games, when leading, and when trailing).

Tennessee has even more incentive to run this week after watching Josh Jacobs carve out multiple chunk gains against the Bengals last week en route to posting a season-high 6.4 YPC. Cincinnati’s struggles on the ground aren’t just a one game anomaly, either. Chiefs backs hit them for 17/125/2 (7.4 YPC) back in Week 17.

Overall, the Titans are simple: They are going to run the ball here and get their play-action game rolling. When this offense is right, Ryan Tannehill & Co. can score with the best of them. Iif they hit their stride, this game has easy shootout appeal despite both sides being below-average in pace.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

It’s Joe Burrow time. My inclination is not to wager against Joey Franchise this week. The Titans allowed the most passing YPG among playoff teams (245.2), third-most YPA (6.64), and the second-highest completion rate on 20-plus throws (15.2%) and third-highest of 40-plus (2.78%). They have also permitted the second-most FPG allowed to QBs among the remaining playoff defenses (17.6).

While no one is fading Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins, I also quite like this spot for Tyler Boyd. The matchup across from Elijah Molden more than makes up the difference I need to see. Molden has authorized 0.27 FP/CS (17th-most), 1.19 YPCS (14th-most), a 103.6 TPR (eighth-highest), and he’s allowed the ninth-highest completion rate on 20-plus throws among 36 qualified slot corners.

As for Derrick Henry? Well… Cincinnati offers the most lenient run defense among all of the playoff teams. It’s true that they are enabling the fifth-fewest rushing YPG (96.8) among all teams, but they are also handing out the third-highest rushing first down rate — seventh-highest all season (26.3%), third-most YPC (4.3), and fourth-most TDs/game (0.83) among playoff teams. And the Bengals are licensing, by far, the most FPG to RBs (25.4) over the last four weeks – a full 20% more on the ground than the next worst playoff team.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

The King has returned.

With the expectation Derrick Henry returns this week against a Cincinnati defense that lost DTs Larry Ogunjobi and Mike Daniels last week, the Titans should have plenty of opportunity to run the ball. The question is how much of a load Henry can handle.

He is obviously the kind of back who thrives on more carries. In 48 career games in which he’s received 15 or more totes, Henry averages 4.97 YPC. In 37 career games in which he’s received fewer than 15 carries, he’s down at 4.33 YPC.

Of course, he’s also played zero career games with a steel plate in his foot.

The Titans’ usage of Henry will be critical — as Wes pointed out, the Bengals’ run defense is vulnerable, and that’s before losing two key DTs. But D’Onta Foreman also did an admirable job filling in for Henry this season, and deciding how to rotate him in — if at all — is a challenge for Mike Vrabel and Todd Downing.

I expect if Henry goes, the Titans will ride him. They know how this player operates. That’s the simplest explanation for all this, and Henry is a much bigger threat to take one to the house than is Foreman.

It will be exciting to see the Titans have Ryan Tannehill, Julio Jones, AJ Brown, and Henry all together if all play as expected. The four of them have played 120 snaps together this season — basically the equivalent of two slow-paced full games. We really haven’t seen the Titans at the peak of their powers, which is why they might be considered the worst #1 seed ever. The Titans, by the way, will have to contend with Bengal DE Trey Hendrickson, their best pass rusher. Hendrickson cleared concussion protocol and will play.

Given Tennessee’s success stopping the run — they allowed the second-fewest rushing YPG to RBs this year — Bengal RB Joe Mixon might be a bit of an afterthought. But stopping Mixon isn’t how you beat the Bengals anyway. That’s slowing down Joe Burrow and this passing game.

That could be a lot harder if CB Jackrabbit Jenkins can’t play.

I’d be hard-pressed to sit any of the WR options for Cincinnati.