The Tennessee Titans will be in Cincinnati Sunday for a rematch with the Bengals, a former divisional foe. The Bengals' team that lost 17-10 to the Ravens last week bore little resemblance to the one which played very well against Tennessee last November. The offense didn't score a touchdown against Baltimore and the total offensive production was their lowest in eight years.
Although all teams have some turnover in personnel every year, the Bengals no longer have three of their stars. Tackle Willie Anderson, running back Rudi Johnson and corner Deltha O'Neal were all cut for financial reasons. The three, who have combined for six Pro Bowl appearances as Bengals, were quickly picked up by other teams. Fans aren't happy campers in Cincinnati and the attendance isn't expected to be high. The Titans shouldn't be facing much of a loud or hostile environment.
Surface: FieldTurf. Forecast: a 50% chance of thunderstorms with a high of 79°F.
The Bengals' Offense:
The Bengals do return three of their top offensive stars, but quarterback Carson Palmer, receiver Chad Ocho Cinco and receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh were limited to just four completions for 66 yards last week. Chris Perry was re-signed, replaced Rudi Johnson as the feature back, and gained a whopping 42 yards on 19 carries against the Ravens. The offensive line had problems all afternoon. The offense converted only two of thirteen third-down attempts and were zero for two on fourth down. Fans are upset with offensive coordinator Bill Bratkowski's predictable play-calling.
After Week One, the offense is last in the league in both passing yards and total yards.
Despite their poor showing last week, the Bengals can't be overlooked. The Titans haven't forgotten Ocho Cinco's three scores and Cincinnati's 35 points last season. Incidentally, the name on the back of Cincinnati jersey #85 will still read "C. Johnson".
The Bengals' Defense:
The defense didn't exactly look good last week either. They allowed a slow-footed rookie quarterback to trudge unmolested for a touchdown. They're 26th in the league in total yards and 31st in rushing yards allowed. The only bright spots were provided by cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who returned a fumble for Cincinnati's only touchdown, and by linebackers Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones, who had ten tackles apiece. This is not the same defense the Titans faced last year.
Cincinnati's best d-linemen may be DE Robert Geathers, who had ten sacks last year, and DT Domata Peko. Former Titans John Thornton and Antwan Odom will also line up Sunday, but Thornton is probably past his prime. Odom was injured in training camp and will probably see only spot duty as a situational pass rusher.
The Bengals have two promising young corners in Leon Hall and Joseph, who were both first-round draft picks. Hall led the team with five picks last year and is also strong in run support. The secondary is probably the strength of the Bengals' 4-3 defense.
The Titans should have a big advantage on both lines, especially if Albert Haynesworth plays. I'll spend a lot of my time watching them, since you can't see much on TV when the Titans' secondary matches up with the Bengals' receivers. I'm looking for a different outcome this time around.
For a further look at the Bengals, check out MVN's The Bengal Blitz