NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Titans running back Derrick Henry earned Player of the Month honors in October, and now he's ready for a November to Remember as the team kicks off the first of five games this month. Henry has averaged 110.5 yards a game so far this season, averaging 4.6 yards a carry. The Bengals, meanwhile, have struggled vs the run this season, allowing 133.7 yards per game (28th in the NFL) and 4.9 yards per carry (27th). This is a week the Titans will likely look to pound the rock for more reasons than one. (Check the weather note at the end).
The Titans are due to disrupt on defense. After six games, the Titans have just seven sacks, as opposing quarterbacks have been way to comfortable in the pocket. On Sunday, the Titans will face a Bengals team with a rookie quarterback in Joe Burrow, and he'll be playing behind a banged-up offensive line playing without multiple starters. It's time for the Titans to turn up the heat and get to Burrow, who has been sacked 28 times in seven games.
Third Down Defense
This has become a topic every week because the Titans defense can't change the subject. The Titans are allowing opponents to convert 60.98 percent of the time on third down, which is last in the NFL. Opponents have converted from long distance, and from short distance. The Titans are going to need to get off the field on the critical down to keep the Bengals from getting into a rhythm. Reason for hope: Cincinnati is converting just 38.8 percent of the time on third down, which is 25th in the NFL.
Special Teams Bounceback?
The Titans have been mostly solid on special teams this season … until last Sunday happened, when seemingly everything went wrong (with the exception of Brett Kern's booming punts). The missed field goal at the end left a lasting impression this week. The Titans don't need to make things easier against a Bengals team with just one win on the season. The Bengals have been effective in the return game, ranked in the top-third in the NFL returning both punts and kicks. It would be nice to see the Titans turn the momentum here with a big play, although Coach Mike Vrabel would be happy with just overall solid play.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is expected to have all his weapons with him on Sunday, and that's a good thing. The offense had a bit of a hiccup last week with a slow start, but for the most part the unit has been very successful. Heck, the Titans are ranked 5th in the NFL in total offense, and 4th in scoring, averaging 31.3 yards per game. Tannehill would love to throw the ball around to his receivers against the NFL's 25th ranked pass defense. As always, receiver A.J. Brown is the big play man to watch. A fast start would be nice, huh?
The Titans hit the road on Sunday for the first time in over a month. Only something will be different this time compared to previous road games at Denver and Minnesota – fans will be in the stands. The Bengals are allowing up to 12,000 spectators to attend games the rest of this year, and they'll look to make a difference at Paul Brown Stadium. Sure, it won't be a noisy, raucous atmosphere no matter what happens in this one, but the Titans would sure like to keep 'em quiet from the get-go. Side note: It's expected to be windy, with the forecast calling for 20-30 mph winds, with occasional gusts of over 40 mph.