The Tennessee Titans hope to get back on the winning track Sunday when they travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals. Here is a look at this week's three keys to a Titans victory.
1. Get a pass rush. The Bengals have three offensive linemen out for Sunday's game due to injuries. The Titans have been terrible at rushing the passer, but if they are ever going to be able to pressure the quarterback, going against the Cincinnati patchwork offensive line would seem to be a favorable matchup. In addition, the Bengals are without running back Joe Mixon as well, which should give the Titans another edge.
2. Control things with the run game. Many people believe this game will be a shootout with two strong offenses and two porous defenses. The Titans should have an edge in trying to control the ball with Derrick Henry in the backfield. That makes the run game important for Titans, as always. The Titans cannot afford to let the Bengals hang around in this one, because Cincy's offense with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow is quite capable of putting up points. Also, the way Stephen Gostkowski has been inconsistent on field goals, the Titans probably don't want to be in yet another fourth-quarter deficit situation.
3. Prop up the secondary. The Titans are already allowing an amazingly awful 61-percent third-down conversion rate this season, and are even giving up a 54 percent conversion rate on third-and-7 or more this season. A lot of that has been the lack of pass rush. Some of it, however, can be pointed to poor play in the secondary with a group that has been banged up and will be missing Kristian Fulton with Adoree' Jackson still not yet ready to return. That means that the Titans are going to have to find some sort of way to make it work with Malcolm Butler, Johnathan Joseph and a cast of rookies, practice squad callups and backups against the Bengals. Kudos to Mike Vrabel, Shane Bowen and secondary coach Anthony Midget if they can pull it off.