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VOL. 41 | NO. 45 | Friday, November 10, 2017

Bengals at Titans: What to watch

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Sunday, Nov. 12

1 p.m.

TV: Fox

Radio: 98.7-FM

First down: Welcome back, Pac. Admit it, when he ended his shameful tenure in Tennessee with a year-long suspension in 2007, you never thought you’d see Adam Bernard Jones play another game in Nashville.

Well, Jones has settled down – at least for him – and has been a mainstay in Cincinnati for several years now. Jones is going to want to make a big splash in his return to face the team that drafted him, so the Titans will need to not allow him to make a big play.

Second down: Keeping searching for the run game. The Titans keep saying they are an “exotic smashmouth” team, but they have not been effective running the ball. Last Sunday, for nearly three quarters, defensive back Adoree’ Jackson, put in at the start of the game to run a trick play on offense, was the team’s leading rusher.

DeMarco Murray is banged up, and Derrick Henry doesn’t often get enough carries to find a groove. Whatever is going on, the Titans have to find the run game soon.

Third down: Keep playing defense. Maybe the 57-point meltdown against the Texans a few weeks ago turned out to be a watershed moment for the Titans defense. Some of it too is that they have faced a few not go great offenses in recent weeks.

But whatever the reason, the defense – thought to be the weak link at the start of the season – is carrying this football team right now, led by defensive back Kevin Byard and his five picks the past two games.

Fourth down: Don’t get dragged into the mire. The Bengals have their share of agitators on their roster – Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict, being at the top of that list. But even receiver A.J. Green got in the act Sunday against Jacksonville.

The Titans cannot afford to lose their composure against a team like the Bengals that oftentimes will lose its poise. The Titans must take the high road and avoid penalties, even those of the offsetting variety.

Matchups to watch

Corey Davis vs. Pacman Jones. A battle of two former Titans first-round picks, albeit a dozen years apart. Jones isn’t the cover corner he used to be, but still makes plays on the ball. Davis is just now getting healthy from a hamstring issue. The Titans should match the 6-4 rookie up on the 5-9 Jones when they can and let him do what he does, which is go get the football at its highest point.

Kevin Byard vs. Andy Dalton. Byard has been feasting on AFC North quarterbacks the past two weeks, burning Browns QBs Deshone Kizer and Cody Kessler for three picks, and getting two more interceptions last Sunday off Joe Flacco. Dalton threw just eight interceptions all of last season, and already has eight thrown this year.

Adoree’ Jackson vs. A.J. Green. Green was not suspended for his fisticuffs with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey last Sunday. So, then the Titans might want to put Jackson on him some of the time. The rookie continues to improve week after week in his coverage.