Bengals at Titans how to watch: TV, live stream, odds, prediction as Cincinnati seeks upset victory
If you thought the Bengals would just be happy to end the franchise’s more than three-decade playoff drought, think again. Moments after winning his first playoff game, quarterback Joe Burrow said Cincinnati’s win over the Raiders was “standard for the bare minimum every year going forward.”
Burrow and his teammates are now looking to earn the franchise’s first road playoff victory. To do that, they’ll need to defeat a Titans team that earned the AFC top seed after going 12-5 in the regular season. Making it harder will be the expected return of running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 112 yards and a score when the two teams last met in Week 8 of the 2020 season.
We will preview the game and give our prediction for Saturday’s result. Here’s how to follow the action in real time.
How to watch
Dated: Saturday January 22 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Site: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tennessee)
TV: BNC | Flux: fuboTV (try for free)
To follow: CBS Sports app
Odds: Titans -3.5, O/U 47.5
When the Bengals have the ball
Burrow knows the Titans well, as Cincinnati won 31-20 over Tennessee in Week 8 of the 2020 season. In the win, Burrow threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 26 of 37 passes. Nor was he fired for just the third time in 27 career starts. Burrow acknowledged this week that both teams have gone through changes since that game. The Titans added passing thrower Bud Dupree in free agency, while Burrow’s former college teammate Kristian Fulton emerged as a quality starter in his second year in Nashville.
The Titans boast a terrific passing rush, led by linebacker Harold Landry (12 sacks) and linemen Denico Autry (9 sacks) and Jeffery Simmons (8.5 sacks). While the secondary has given up the 25th most passing yards in the NFL, the unit is led by one of the league’s top defensive backs in Kevin Byard, who has five interceptions and 13 passes defended in the during the regular season. The Titans defense finished the regular season as one of the best units in the league in terms of third down and red zone efficiency.
Tennessee’s pass rush is surely a concern for a Bengals offensive line that has allowed 51 sacks from Burrow in 16 regular season games. When he had time to throw, Burrow had huge success passing the ball to wide Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and tight end CJ Uzomah. Burrow was also helped by Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon, who scored 16 total touchdowns during the regular season. The unit only pitched once in last week’s 26-19 win over Las Vegas. However, he was limited to just two second-half field goals as Burrow and the offense will need to capitalize more on their scoring opportunities on Saturday.
When the Titans have the ball
Tennessee’s offense initially struggled after losing Henry in Week 8. The low point came when the unit turned the ball over four times in a 19-13 loss to Pittsburgh at the week 15. The offense then regrouped with impressive outings against the 49ers, Dolphins and Texans to close out the season. Besides not committing turnovers in those games, a big reason for the turnover was the play of running backs D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard. Look for both players to play an important role in Saturday’s game, regardless of Henry’s status.
The Titans’ offense will be bolstered by the returns of Henry as well as receivers Julio Jones and AJ Brown. The trio are expected to adjust on Saturday after missing 20 games combined during the regular season. Jones and Brown will look to exploit a Bengals secondary that finished 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed during the regular season.
Cincinnati’s defense was hit with a big loss when defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a foot injury against the Raiders. Ogunjobi’s spot will be filled by DJ Reader, who recorded 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks during the regular season. The Bengals received some good news in the form of Trey Hendrickson, as the Pro Bowl passing thrower was cleared to play in Saturday’s game after spending time under league concussion protocol.
An underrated part of the Bengals’ defense is its linebacking corps, led by Logan Wilson (four interceptions) and Germaine Pratt (91 tackles, two forced falls and two fumble recoveries during the regular season). Cincinnati also has a hard-hitting secondary that includes safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. The Titans offense will have to watch out for cornerback Mike Hilton, who has a knack for making big plays at crucial moments.
Tennessee Titans -3.5
Games between relatively even teams often come down to the quarterback position. Ryan Tannehill has playoff experience and has proven to be a solid player during his time in Nashville. But the Bengals have a unique talent at quarterback in Burrow, who has the skills and temperament to pull off what would be the NFL’s biggest playoff upset so far. If Burrow plays at the level he has played for most of the year and the Bengals defense can contain Henry and the Titans guards, the Bengals will end another franchise playoff drought en route to the AFC Championship game.
Goal: Bengals 24, Titans 20