The Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1) host the Tennessee Titans (5-1) on Sunday in a matchup of two teams on opposite sides of the AFC landscape. After scoring over 30 points in four straight games, the Titans were held to 24 last week in their first loss of the season, falling to Pittsburgh 27-24. Cincinnati comes into the game after suffering their fourth one-score heartbreaker of 2020, this time at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, 37-34.
Joe Burrow has already racked up numerous rookie quarterback records even though he has been sacked 28 times through seven games, tying him with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz for most in the league. It is unlikely to get any easier on Sunday, as the Bengals’ lackluster offensive line will be without three starters: RT Bobby Hart (knee), C Trey Hopkins (concussion), and LT Jonah Williams (stinger). With that said, the Titans only pressure the quarterback on 16.8 percent of snaps and hold the fourth-lowest hurry rate at 5.5 percent.
The last time Tennessee visited Cincinnati, running back Giovani Bernard tallied 54 yards from scrimmage and found the promised land on two separate scores. The team will hope for him to have a similar performance for this tilt, as starter Joe Mixon (foot) will miss his second-straight game. Bernard totaled 96 yards with one trip to paydirt last week against the Browns and stands to garner even more carries this week as the Bengals try to keep the Tennessee offense off the field.
A porous Cincinnati front seven will have to contend with all-world running back Derrick Henry and apply pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill to keep pace in the affair. Gone is decade-long mainstay Carlos Dunlap (traded to Seattle this week) as the Bengals’ youth movement continues at both ends of the line.
As usual, the offense is going to run through Henry. The heavy hitter with a devastating stiff-arm already has 663 yards (on 4.7 yards per carry) through six contests to go along with seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds, Henry is deceivingly fast. He broke off a 99-yard touchdown run in 2018, and just added a 94-yarder two weeks ago (going away) against the Texans.
After a 2019 season that saw Tannehill throw sparingly but extremely efficiently, the coaching staff seems to have taken the reins off the gunslinger. Although he did not play the entire season last year for the Titans, he is on pace to obliterate the numbers he put up. Through just six games this year, the signal-caller already has 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions. In 2019, he finished the year at 22 scores and six picks. Additionally, his 1,590 yards passing is already just 1,152 away from his entire total from last season.
The Titans defense (which Burrow referred to as “opportunistic”) is a weakness. That said, their 12 takeaways on the season have flipped the field for them often, though they still allow more than 400 total yards per game. The secondary will have to contend with the only trio of wideouts from one team with at least 40 targets each in Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, and rookie Tee Higgins. Boyd is third in the NFL with 48 catches on the season.
Date: November 1, 2020
Start Time: 1:00 P.M. est
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Point Spread: TEN -7 (-110) | CIN +7 (-110)
Moneyline: TEN -335 | CIN +260
Over/Under: O 50.5 (-110) | U 50.5 (-110)
The sharps have been absolutely hammering Tennessee in this game. After the spread opened at -3.5, news of Bengals injuries drove it to -7, which is where it sits currently. Likewise, the total opened at 56 and as the week progressed, so many were taking the under that it has fallen to 50.5. That’s a pretty dramatic shift and presents a lot of value.
Cincinnati’s offensive line is hurting but if Burrow gets any time at all to throw, that total is toast. These two teams have combined score 54.6 points per game this season and have unimpressive defenses. Play the O/50.5 with confidence.
It is not realistic to think that the Titans can continue their rate of takeaways, and they have been masking a suspect defense. Burrow has played behind a horrid offensive line all season, so it’s doubtful that the fill-ins could be that much worse. This is a game that Cincinnati can win. However, Tennessee has playoff pedigree and has been a cohesive unit going back to last year, something the Bengals have not yet found. A late charge from the young Bengals quarterback makes it close, but the home team falls short in yet another one-score defeat.
Final Score: Titans 34, Bengals 27
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