Cincinnati is more well-rounded team now, and Burrow said Tennessee is different on defense from that November 2020 game, but the Titans are still a “really good,” well-coached team. For him, it’s just the next challenge, no different from the one 14 months ago in Cincinnati.
“Staying level-headed (is key),” Burrow said. “We could feel the intensity and energy in the locker room for the playoff game (last week) and I was trying to remain calm and get everyone else to remain calm as well and we hadn’t been in that situation for a long time. But the key to performing in those kinds of situations is treating it like every other week. If you go out in warm ups and are super intense and wear yourself out you’re not gonna be able to sustain that into the fourth quarter of these high-intensity games. At least that’s the way I think about it. I know some guys treat game days a little different, but if I go out there in warmups and I’m ‘rah rah’ yelling, trying to get the fan fired up, I know I’m gonna burn out in the fourth quarter so I try to stay even keel.”
This week Burrow faces the challenge of having to work in a hostile environment where the noise will be a bigger impact when he has the ball, but the Bengals have managed that well this season, going 5-2 on the road when Burrow starts.
The Titans have the sixth-best scoring defense, allowing just 20.8 points per game, and the second-best run defense, allowing 84.6 rushing yards per game. That means the Bengals could need another big game from Burrow. The Titans allow 245.2 yards passing per game.
Burrow said the Titans’ defensive line is “explosive and aggressive” and the Bengals will have their “work cut out” for them. Edge rusher Harold Landry leads the Titans with 12.0 sacks, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons has 8.5 sacks, and in the back end of the defense, safety Kevin Byard has five interceptions.
Tennessee also has one of the best rushing offenses in the league, so any rhythm Burrow finds on offense could be interrupted by lengthy drives with the defense on the field. The Titans tend to grind out games and lead the league with 32.4 carries per game. Henry hasn’t played since Week 8 due to a foot injury and subsequent surgery, but was activated from injured reserve prior to the regular-season finale and is back at practice this week. Henry has rushed for 937 yards and 10 TDs in eight games.
Bengals at Titans, 4:30 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7