Cincinnati still faces five of the six teams ahead of them, and the game in Nashville is a chance to help them get where they want to be at the end of the season in a position to make a playoff run.
“We can’t change what happened the first few weeks (opening with back-to-back losses),” left tackle Jonah Williams said. “All we did was get ourselves in a position to finish really strong. We play all the best teams in the AFC so if we want to climb the rankings of the AFC, it’s right in front of us. We just have to win these games with some really good teams, but that’s what we’re putting ourselves in position to do.”
Tennessee also opened the season 0-2 but has won seven of its last eight games with only an overtime loss to the top-ranked Chiefs in Week 9. The Titans bounced back with wins over Denver on Nov. 13 and Green Bay last Thursday, and they had an extra few days to recover and begin preparations for the Bengals with the mini bye.
Last year when they played the Bengals in the playoffs, Derrick Henry was just coming back from injury but he’s been healthy so far this season and leads the NFL with 1,010 yards rushing on 230 carries. He has 10 touchdowns, and Tannehill adds 10 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,685 yards over eight games. Tannehill had his best game of the season against Green Bay, completing 81.5 percent of his passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He’s thrown four interceptions this season.
Defensively, the Titans have another strong defensive line that has helped limit opponents to 82 yards rushing per game (second best run defense in the league) and that has contributed to the team’s 10th-ranked 30 sacks, including 7.0 sacks from Denico Autry and 6.5 sacks from Jeffery Simmons. They rank eighth in points allowed per game (18.5), but the pass defense has been a weakness with just two teams allowing more passing yards per game than their 266.
“We approach every game the same way, so I think that whether it’s a revenge game or not, we’re gonna approach it the same way,” Williams said. “We know that Tennessee’s a good team, they’re physical, and it’s gonna start up front with us. We have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Whether it’s revenge game or not, that’s what we have to do.”
Tennessee was without kicker Randy Bullock (calf), defensive end Bud Dupree (hip) and safety Amani Hooker (shoulder) against Green Bay, but coach Mike Vrabel seems to get the most out of whoever he’s got on the field.
“They’re physical, I think that’s probably the No. 1 word (to describe Tennesse),” Taylor said. “Physical, tough team, and really situationally sound. They do a great job of handling all the situations, pulling points out of the game. That’s why probably in a lot of 50 -50 games they find a way to come out on top because they manage all those situations really well and their team understands it. And I just think he’s done a really good job with that whole organization.”
Bengals at Titans, 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7