Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans: Preview and Prediction

Scott SewellCorrespondent INovember 6, 2011

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 14:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs by Chinedum Ndukwe #41 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter of their NFL game September 14, 2008 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Titans defeated the Bengals 24-7.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

One game in the NFL is the equivalent of 10 games in MLB.

With only 16 games on the schedule, every single game matters. The matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans is especially important for both teams.

The Titans play in the wide open AFC South and have enjoyed moderate success this season, even with their best player having a subpar season.

The Titans have a 4-3 record and a win today, coupled with a Houston Texans loss, could propel the Titans into first place.

The key to the game for the Titans involves the defensive line play on both sides of the ball.  

The Bengals defensive line has been absolutely dominant this year. The Titans will have to find a way to combat their consistent pressure and give Hasselbeck time to find open receivers.

The Titans defensive line should be focused on disrupting Andy Dalton's rhythm. Dalton has been downright awful at times this season and pressure from the Titans front four will limit the amount of opportunities A.J. Green will have to bail Dalton out.

This game is equally important for the Bengals.

Cincinnati is 5-2, but four of their next five games are against opponents that should beat the Bengals. If the Bengals do embark on a downward spiral in the second half of the season then winning games against teams like Tennessee become even more important.

If the Bengals can beat Tennessee, Cleveland, St. Louis and Arizona then all they need to do is have a 1-4 record against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston to have a 10-6 record and a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

The key for beating the Titans today will be stopping Chris Johnson.

As a Cincinnati sports fan, I've become accustomed to watching struggling players find their stride against a Cincinnati team.  

We've seen Yadier Molina break out of slumps, countless losing pitchers throw eight inning gems, players that can't shoot miraculously start hitting three pointers and mediocre quarterbacks—like Bruce Gradkowski—destroy us, like nobody else in the league.

If I were a betting man—which I am—I would put money on Johnson having a big game today.

If the Bengals can actually contain him, I don't see any other way the Titans can win the game.

Scratch that. One other way: turnovers.

Contain Chris Johnson, limit turnovers and Cincinnati wins. I just don't think they are going to do that this week.

Prediction: Titans 24, Bengals 13

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