NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans (7-3) go for their eight victory in nine games Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals (6-4).
It is the first meeting of the two teams since the Bengals upset the Titans 19-16 in round two of the AFC Playoffs last season.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was adamant Tuesday this is not a “revenge” game and every player sounded like they got the message.
“Like I said, after Thursday night, that was the last year,” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “Half of this team wasn’t even here. This is a new team facing another new team in a game we want to win but it has nothing to do with last year.”
If Tannehill is not seeking revenge maybe he is after redemption after throwing three interceptions in the Titans stunning loss. It was a loss that Tannehill said sent him into therapy to get over.
Tannehill and the Titans pass attack come into Sunday off of their best two performances of the season. Improved pass protection up front, teams selling out to stop Derrick Henry and the return of Treylon Burks have helped open things ope in the pass attack. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Burks turned in back to back 100 yard games.
Ryan Tannehill Last 2 Games –
- Vs. Broncos: (19-36) 255 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 INT’s
- Vs. Packers: (22-27) 333 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
When asked if Titans have turned a corner on offense, Tannehill would not say.
“We want to keep building. You always want to keep building in what we’re able to do and how we’re attacking defenses. The receivers and tight ends have been doing a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities. Every week is going to be different and when we get those opportunities to make the plays, our guys have been stepping up and making them.”
Defensively the Titans expect to have Bud Dupree back rushing the passer, but they will be without Denico Autry who suffered a knee injury at Green Bay.
The Bengals had hoped to get back star receiver Ja’Marr Chase from a hip injury, but early reports indicate he is not expected to play. Starting running back Joe Mixon is also out after suffering a concussion last week against Pittsburgh.
However, weapons are not in short supply for quarterback Joe Burrow though who is having another big year.
- Tee Higgins: 50 Rec., 712 yards, 3 TD’s
- Hayden Hurst: 40 Rec., 331 yards, 2 TD’s
- Tyler Boyd: 39 Rec., 579 yards, 4 TD’s
The Titans have already seen Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen this year, so Burrow is the latest in star quarterbacks.
“He is very accurate,” said Mike Vrabel, “He is willing to wait some things out. In the quick game, he makes great decisions. He likes to work in and is comfortable in empty, turbo-two concepts, and three-by-one concepts that they have.”
Last year in their playoff loss, the Titans sacked Burrow 9 times but were unable to get him to turn the football over. That has been a rallying point for the team this season and something they are pointing to Sunday.
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If it comes down to the kicking game for the Titans there could be some nervous moments with rookie Caleb Shudak from Iowa making his NFL debut for Tennessee. Randy Bullock is still out with a calf injury, but Shudak was challenging for the job this summer before suffering a leg injury.
Titans special teams coach Craig Aukerman says Shudak gives the Titans more length on kickoffs and field goals.