As the AFC’s No. 1 seed, the Titans are coming off a first-round bye while the Bengals will be traveling on a short week. Tennessee finished the season 12-5 to secure the top spot. The Bengals defeated the Raiders Saturday to earn the opportunity.
Led by head coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans winning as many games as they did was certainly impressive. Vrabel is one of the leading candidates for the NFL’s Coach of the Year award. Tennessee’s season was one ravaged with injuries, none bigger than Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry’s foot injury that forced him to end his season early.
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Henry is expected to be back for the playoffs. The Titans’ star running back hasn’t seen game action since Oct. 31. Henry is a game-changer for Tennessee’s offense as the entire unit revolves around getting him the ball.
“Any time we can get him back out here working, and working his way to going out and competing with us, is going to be huge for us,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of Henry’s return.
To put into perspective how impactful Henry can be, the Titans were 6-2 before he suffered his foot injury. In the eight games he saw action in, Henry led the NFL in rushing with 937 yards and 10 touchdowns on 219 carries.
The Titans’ passing offense is predicated off the run game, and Tannehill is one of the better play-action quarterbacks in the NFL. Tennessee also has a dynamic wide receiver duo with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the roster. Brown leads the Titans in catches and receiving yards with 63 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns. Brown, Henry and Jones have combined for 10 Pro Bowls in their respective careers.
Defensively, the Titans get it done with a dominant pass rush and some of the best defensive backs in the league. Harold Landry has leads Tennessee with 12 sacks and veteran safety Kevin Byard recorded five interceptions in the regular season. The Titans had the No. 2 run defense in the NFL allowing 84.6 yards per game.