The Tennessee Titans are a prime example of how ascending franchises can impact the NFL landscape. The offseason acquisition of RB Derrick Henry and his return to form in 2018 have made the Titans one of the most compelling stories entering their Divisional Round matchup with Cincinnati Bengals
The “derrick henry age” is a question that has been asked many times before. The Titans will beat the Bengals and advance to the AFC Championship game because of Derrick Henry’s age and experience.
The Tennessee Titans are preparing for a Divisional Round matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL playoffs. During the Wild Card Round, the AFC’s top seed had the chance to lay back and relax while also getting well. Tennessee’s standout running back Derrick Henry is on the rise, which bodes well for the Volunteers’ hopes of reaching the AFC Championship Game.
The Titans will defeat Joe Burrow and the Bengals for three reasons.
1. Derrick Henry’s reappearance
The Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry runs against the Cincinnati Bengals | Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Tennessee Titans’ best-case scenario was to win the AFC’s top seed. Mike Vrabel’s team not only clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage, but it also allowed Derrick Henry plenty of time to prepare for the big game.
Henry has been sidelined since breaking his foot against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8. The Pro Bowl running back was expected to miss the rest of the 2021 season, according to the original diagnosis. However, the organization remained hopeful that he would be able to play in the playoffs.
As Tennessee prepares to meet the red-hot Cincinnati Bengals, Henry’s return would be ideal. Zac Taylor’s team defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round and comes into this game full of confidence and enthusiasm.
If the sixth-year tailback returns close to 100 percent, Cincinnati will have its hands full. The Titans had the fifth-best running offense in the league, averaging 141.4 yards per game. Given that Tennessee was without King Henry for the entire second half, it’s quite a feat.
The Bengals, however, have the fifth-best run defense in the league, allowing just 102.4 running yards per game. Something has to give, but few teams have been able to stop Derrick Henry for four quarters when he is healthy. It’s impossible to envisage a different outcome in this battle.
Henry passed the contact test during practice, according to ESPN. “I was in a wonderful mood,” Henry stated. “All I wanted to do was put some pads on.” I haven’t seen them in a while and we’ve made contact.” That’s encouraging news going into the game.
2. The Titans will be able to take advantage of the Bengals’ pass defense.
The Titans operate a high-powered offense that is captained by Derrick Henry. That’s where they get their bread and butter. Head coach Mike Vrabel is unconcerned with the team’s identity. Tennessee, on the other hand, has the firepower to defeat the Bengals in different ways.
If Henry is able to play, that will be a good sign for Ryan Tannehill. In play-action pass situations, the experienced quarterback shines. The presence of the All-Pro running back would increase passing game chances.
The Titans have the weaponry to make the Bengals’ secondary’s life tough. Both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have dealt with injuries this season, but they look to be in good shape coming into the Divisional Round. Brown has stepped up his game in the second part of the season. Tennessee is hoping Jones can take his game to the next level in the playoffs.
The ground game will be a contest of strength vs strength, but Cincinnati will struggle against the pass. During the regular season, the Bengals gave up 248.3 passing yards per game to opposing opponents, which was the NFL’s seventh-worst number.
The Titans will not attempt to force a shootout. Nonetheless, it would be prudent to take advantage of the mismatches. Cincy’s defense lacks a cornerback capable of covering Brown one-on-one. Because the Bengals will have to account for the run, this may be a problem.
3. Playoff knowledge
Under Mike Vrabel, the Tennessee Titans are on their way to being perennial postseason challengers. In each of the last three seasons, the team has advanced to the NFL playoffs.
For the most part, Tennessee’s core remains intact. In a battle like this, previous postseason experience might be crucial. The Bengals of Cincinnati are talented, but they’re also inexperienced. Since 2015, the squad hasn’t reached the playoffs. Many of Cincinnati’s top players have never played in the playoffs.
The Bengals deserve credit for advancing to the Wild Card Round. The Titans, though, are a different animal than the Raiders.
In 2019 and 2020, Mike Vrabel’s team lost in the AFC Championship Game and the Wild Card Round, respectively. In 2021, they want to go over the hump. Since 2020, the Titans’ defense has vastly improved, giving them a more complete football squad this time around.
By no means will the Bengals be an easy exit. The Titans, on the other hand, have been here before and know exactly what to anticipate. Tennessee gains an advantage in more ways than one now that Derrick Henry is back in the fold.
Cincinnati is hungry, but Tennessee may be even more so after coming so close to winning the Super Bowl a few seasons ago. The Titans are now on the lookout for redemption.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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