Who: No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) at No. 1 Tennessee Titans (12-5)
When: 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
TV/Radio: CBS, Paramount+, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7
Series history: The Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) lead the series 40-35-1 and are 23-13-1 as the home team, including a 6-3 record in games played in Tennessee since their relocation there in 1997. However, the Bengals have won five of the past seven meetings overall and won the only previous postseason meeting between the teams, 41-14 in a Wild Card Playoff in Cincinnati after the 1990 season.
Last game: The Bengals beat the Titans 31-20 win in Cincinnati last year, a surprising upset considering Tennessee entered with a 5-1 record and the Bengals had just one win and were without their leading rusher and four starting offensive linemen. The makeshift line held the Titans without a sack, and Joe Burrow completed 70.3 percent of his passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. After trailing 17-7 at halftime, Tennessee made a late push with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the Bengals’ offense countered with two of their own and held on for the win.
Postseason history: The Bengals are 6-14 in playoff games with two Super Bowl appearances in 1988 and 1981 but no championships. They broke an eight-playoff game losing streak last week, ending a drought that spanned over 31 years. This is the organization’s first postseason trip since 2015. … The Titans are 17-22 in postseason games, including 5-9 in divisional round games, but they have been to six conference championships and one Super Bowl in 1999, a loss to the St. Louis Rams. This is their third straight playoff appearance and fourth in the last five years.
Coaches: Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor is 17-32-1 in three seasons as head coach; Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel is 41-24 in four seasons.
Bengals notes: The Bengals rank in a tie for seventh with 27.0 points per game, and their 259.0 passing yards per game ranks seventh as well. Joe Burrow threw for a franchise-record 4,611 yards passing and 34 touchdowns in the regular season, while his 70.4 percent completion rate led the league among regular starters. After struggling with interceptions early, he has been pick-free for five straight games. ... The Bengals didn’t score a touchdown in the second half of the Wild Card win over the Raiders but the defense allowed just one score in the redzone. … Joe Mixon’s 1,205 yards rushing in the regular season ranks third best in the league, and he has 13 rushing touchdowns. … Ja’Marr Chase broke Chad Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record with 1,455 yards on 81 catches and he also has 13 touchdowns. He had 22 catches for 20 yards or more in the regular season. … Tee Higgins topped 1,000 yards in his second season, recording 1,091 yards and six touchdowns on 74 catches, but was quiet in the Wild Card game and could be looking for a bounceback performance. … Tyler Boyd has been solid on third down and adds 828 yards and five touchdowns. … The defense went from recording just 17 sacks in 2020 to finishing off 42 sacks in 2021. Trey Hendrickson leads with 14 sacks and is back following a concussion last week. Sam Hubbard adds 7.5 sacks, but the Bengals will be missing Larry Ogunjobi’s production from the interior (7.0 sacks) after he suffered a season-ending foot injury. … The Bengals bring the fifth-best run defense in the league, allowing 102.5 rushing yards per game.
Titans notes: Tennessee’s strengths lie in the redzone defense and the running game, offensively and defensively. The Titans rank sixth in points allowed (20.8), fifth in rushing offense (141.4 yards per game) and second in run defense. … Derrick Henry is back from a Week 8 foot injury that required surgery. He was leading the league with 937 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns at the time of his injury. D’Onta Foreman has stepped up in his absence and accounts for 566 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. … Ryan Tannehill is a veteran quarterback in his ninth season, completing 67.2 of his passes for 3,734 yards and 21 touchdowns with 14 interceptions in the regular season. His receivers include A.J. Brown (869 yards, 5 TDs), Nick Westbrooke-Ikhine (476 yards, 4 TDs) and Julio Jones (434 yards, 1 TD), but Brown and Jones have missed all or parts of multiple games this year. They appear healthy going into the playoffs, with help from a bye last week. … Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard leads the defense with 88 combined tackles, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. Outside linebacker Harold Landry has a team-high 12 sacks, while defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons adds 8.5 and Denico Autry 9.0. … Former Bengals kicker Randy Bullock has made 26 of 31 field goal attempts in 16 games for the Titans. This is his first season there, as the Bengals drafted Evan McPherson to take over kicking duties this year.
Quoted: “We’ve been a really strong road team this year; we’ve taken a lot of pride in that and having a good routine on the road and guys stepping up and doing what we need to do. We enjoy going into hostile environments. We’ll keep our message to ourselves, but I think our guys are cranked up and ready to go for Saturday.”
Prediction: Bengals 31, Titans 24
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