Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle was nice enough to answer 5 questions about his Cincinnati Bengals to get us ready for the game this week. You can head over to Cincy Jungle to see his questions and my answers.
1. Is Ja’Marr Chase likely to play?
Chase was limited in the team’s first practice of the week—his first time practicing since the conclusion of the Falcons game in Week 7. The fact he’s practicing this week, we haven’t heard there of being issues and that Joe Burrow said that both he and the team expect him to play this week is pointing to the fact he’ll play. It seems to be more of a situation of how many snaps he will play.
2. The Titans sacked Joe Burrow 9 times in the playoff game. What has changed on the offensive line for the Bengals? Are they playing better?
What’s changed is four new starters on the line (RT La’el Collins, RG Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras and LG Cordell Volson). It started off rocky because these guys didn’t play much through the preseason, but they’re starting to hit their stride. Two elements that they have improved upon is second-level blocking and responding to stunts and twists much better. Sacks and pressures are there and this isn’t a perfect line, but it’s far improved from the postseason run.
3. The Bengals have won 6 of 8 since starting 0-2. What went wrong in those first two games and what has changed?
In Week 1, Burrow turned the ball over five times and the Bengals lost their long snapper, causing issues to make late kicks to win the game. Additionally, teams adjusted heavily on defense with a lot of two-deep safety looks to limit Chase and explosive passing plays.
Cincinnati has since adjusted with RPO runs, allowed their offense to gel and settled for more shorter intermediate plays to exercise patience for big play opportunities later in contests. Burrow has also accounted for just five total turnovers in the other nine games since the Week 1 debacle with five in that game alone.
4. Give us a player on offense that we should be watching in this one.
Chase is seemingly back, but keep your eyes on Tee Higgins. He’s coming off of the second-best receiving game of his career and absolutely feasts in the middle and shorter parts of the field. While he isn’t a burner, he will occasionally make a big play downfield because of his sheer size, catch radius and ability to make contested grabs.
5. The Titans are currently a 2.5 underdog. Which side of that bet are you taking? Give us your prediction for the game.
That line really surprised me, honestly. That would mean the Bengals would conceivably be 5-5.5-point favorites if this matchup was at home? Just crazy.
I could see a scenario wherein the Bengals cover by winning with a late field goal or something, but it could just as easily go the other way. This game is really interesting because the wins for both teams haven’t been against teams with impressive records this year, so it’s a big litmus test. I think the Bengals are playing well right now and are getting healthier, but I also believe Tennessee is a well-coached team who have had this game circled on the schedule since it came out.