The Bengals kick off Week 3 of the NFL season on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Titans are 1-1 and lost to Dallas 26-10 on Sunday at LP Field. The Titans won their season opener on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of, ironically, 26-10. The season opening win was undoubtedly an impressive one, but last weeks performance was not. Tennessee managed just two first downs in the first half against the notorious Dallas Cowboys defense. Cincinnati won their home opener last week, beating the Atlanta Falcons 24-10. Sundays win coming just a week after beating division rival Baltimore on the road to open the season.
The Titans are led by quarterback Jake Locker, the teams 8th overall draft pick in 2011. Locker’s career has not gotten off to a good start however, with a lot of injuries, interceptions, and losses piling up. Tennessee has a decent offense, with few weapons. Wide receivers Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker are the main targets for Locker. Walker had 10 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown last week. Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster are the team’s running backs, and they have struggled so far this season, combining for just 170 yards on the season.
Defensively, Tennessee isn’t bad. They ranked 14TH in the NFL last season in total defense. The secondary is definitely the strongest part of the team, led by cornerback Jason McCourty, and safeties Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin. This could bode well for Tennessee going up against a battered group of Cincinnati wide receivers.
What to Expect
Last week the Bengals racked up 170 yards on the ground last week, and you can expect Hue Jackson to be dialing up more of the same this week against Tennessee. Giovani Bernard will be the main go to for Cincinnati, as wide receiver AJ Green is questionable with a toe injury. You can expect Gio to get 25-35 touches on Sunday, whether it be on the ground, or through the air. If Green is unable to go on Sunday, look for the Bengals to get the ball to tight end Jermaine Gresham. With Tennessee having such good cornerbacks, and the Bengals having a beat up receiving corps, the Bengals will be looking for the best matchup, which will probably be Gresham against a linebacker.
Tennessee will have their hands full, with a tough Bengals defense all the way around. The Titans need to establish a running game, and you can expect them to try to pound the ball with Shonn Greene against a Bengals defensive line that has been average so far this season. Pro Bowler Geno Atkins’, who is seeing more and more snaps each week coming back from last season’s ACL tear, will play a big role in stopping the run game. Also, the Titans could be doing what the Bengals are doing as well, by trying to get the ball to their tight end Craig Stevens. It is unlikely that the Bengals will have linebacker Vontaze Burfict on the field Sunday after he suffered his second concussion of the season last week. This gives Tennessee a chance to get some good matchups against young guy Vincent Rey, and the always slow, late, and below average Rey Maualuaga.
All signs point to the Bengals winning this game rather easily, as they have matchup advantages all over the field, and even more so if AJ Green suits up for the Bengals on Sunday afternoon.
My official prediction is that the Bengals will win this one and advance to 3-0 on the season heading into their Week 4 Bye.
Bengals 28, Titans 10
The forecast for Sunday in Cincinnati calls for a kickoff temperature of around 70 degrees. There is a 50% chance of rain on Sunday, with some morning thunderstorms expected. If it rains, and it lingers into the afternoon, it could have an impact on the game.
For what felt like the one hundred thousandth time, the Bengals headlines this week were dominated by whether or not the Bengals would sell out Sunday’s game and avoid a local television blackout. For those that don’t know the rule, each team has to sell 85-100% of the tickets available for the game each week. The Bengals are one of the teams that opted to go with the 85% rule. If a team does not reach that threshold of tickets sold, the game will be blacked out on television anywhere within 75 miles of the stadium.
This is a problem that the Bengals have faced before, and almost always, they end up selling the tickets. That does not mean there isn’t controversy, though. The people that are so quick to talk about how the Bengals can’t sell out a game are the same people who are sitting on their couch watching each week. If you’re going to talk and make a big deal about it, then get off your couch and go to the game. Otherwise, just keep your mouth shut.
Now listen, I understand not everyone is going to be able to go to a game, and I understand that. Tickets are expensive, and home is more comfortable. I respect that, because for a majority of Bengals games each year, that’s what I am doing too.
Let’s look at the real issue, though. The rule is stupid and it should be removed. I know that it has been under the microscope as of late and it has even been taken to the FCC and it is unlikely that this rule will still be standing 5 years from now, but the NFL has no one to blame but themselves. They have made the home viewing experience better than anything else. Sure, technological advances have helped out too, with huge HD TV’s and surround sound, but it’s also a lot cheaper in a number of ways.
I can pay $100 and get every game for the entire season, and I don’t have to worry about gas or parking or other stupid fans, and the beer is a lot cheaper too. The NFL has no one to blame for the blackout rule nearing it’s death but themselves.
Another thing that really grinds my gears is the people that bad mouth NFL fans based on the way they act at the game. They then continue on to talk about how their kids heard bad language and they were offended. The solution is simple: don’t take your kids to games. What do you expect at an NFL game? Rainbows and unicorns? No, people will be loud and rowdy and they will be drunk and they will be cursing. That is the nature of the beast and that is what you signed up for when you bought the tickets. Not all 65,000 people in the stadium are like that, but you can’t be surprised when you end up sitting next to them. Take your kid when they are older, it’s not that hard.
As always, thanks for reading. Who Dey.