What the Cincinnati Bengals need to do vs. the Tennessee Titans to win in NFL Week 12

The Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) take on the Tennessee Titans (7-3) at Nissan Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET for what looks to be one of the best games on the NFL’s schedule this weekend.

In the last meeting between these teams, it was Cincinnati that left with the win to advance to the AFC Championship game. The Bengals and Titans are both coming off emotional wins and this matchup has all the makings to be a tough, physical AFC battle.

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Here’s how the Bengals beat the Titans on Sunday:

Don’t let Tennessee’s defensive line with Jeffery Simmons wreck the game

What made the Bengals’ last win over the Titans so remarkable is that it came despite quarterback Joe Burrow getting sacked nine times. Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons has played as the best defensive tackle this season with six sacks on the year. Against the Bengals in the divisional round game, Simmons sacked Burrow three times.

Tennessee Titans defensive end Jeffery Simmons (98) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) on third down forcing a field goal in the second quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Titans defensive end Jeffery Simmons (98) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) on third down forcing a field goal in the second quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

The hope is with the improved offensive line, Cincinnati will hold up better in protection in this game. Tennessee ranks No. 10 in sacks with 30 on the year. Burrow has been sacked 32 times this year with 13 of those coming in the first two weeks of the season. Since Week 2, the Bengals are averaging 2.3 sacks per game.

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Burrow is pleased with the performance of his offensive line and believes Cincinnati’s interior is playing as good as any group in the NFL. If the Bengals can protect Burrow and the Bengals get a lead early, this game is certainly winnable for Cincinnati.

The Titans want to control the time of possession with Derrick Henry running the ball. Burrow acknowledged when facing a team like Tennessee with Henry, it’s especially important to be productive every time the offense gets the ball.

“It just puts more urgency in you,” Burrow said. “You know you gotta make the most of every possession that you get.”

Contain Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry as much as possible

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores a touchdown in the second quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores a touchdown in the second quarter during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

The Titans’ offense runs through their All-Pro running back and he’s healthy this time around. When the Bengals beat Tennessee last January, Henry was coming off a foot injury that kept him out for several games. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo acknowledged that this week when talking about the challenges he poses.

Once again, Henry has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He has 1,010 on the year and 10 rushing touchdowns.

When asked what makes Henry such a challenge, linebacker Logan Wilson said it's his combination of size and physicality.

“I think he's probably the biggest and he's just a tough runner,” Wilson said. “He's good side-to-side and there's really nothing he can't do as a runner. Then his size is what sets him apart from most backs in this league. He's just hard to bring down. You have to bring more than one hat to the ball at all times."

When facing a player like Henry, it’s hard to completely shut him down. The Bengals will focus on trying to contain him and limit his production as much as possible. Tennessee is averaging 128.9 yards per game on the ground. Cincinnati ranks No. 18 in the NFL against the run, giving up 117.7 yards per game.

Execute in situational football

As mentioned earlier, the Titans are going to try and control the clock and dictate terms. That’s their style of play.

The Bengals are very familiar with what Tennessee wants to do and how they’ll try and attack Cincinnati. If the Bengals take advantage of their opportunities in situational football opportunities, it will help them leave Nashville with a win.

That means if they get a chance to end the half with the ball with four or two minutes on the clock, execute their four and two-minute offenses. Same goes for if they win the toss and elect to defer to the second half. If they get the ball coming out of the half, take advantage of the opportunity.

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The more Henry is on the sideline, the better for the Bengals.

Same goes for the red zone operation on both sides of the ball. The Titans are among the league’s best in the red zone and the Bengals have been a lot better this year in that area.

Whoever executes best in these situations will likely win the game as I expect it to be a close game that could go down to the wire, just like the last meeting.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: How the Bengals can beat the Titans in NFL Week 12