Specifically, it will be a revenge game for Titans running back Derrick Henry.
When Cincinnati beat Tennessee in the playoffs last season, it was Henry’s first game back after missing nine games due to a foot injury.
And Henry wasn’t at his best, rushing for just 62 yards on 20 carries in the Titans’ 19-16 loss to the Bengals.
Not only was Henry not his usual self, but his return also threw off Tennessee’s offensive approach a bit. They got by without Henry for much of the year by adjusting their offensive plan. When Henry came back, that plan got thrown out of whack (mostly because Henry was a bit rusty).
Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor knows the Bengals won’t be facing the same Henry this week.
Taylor called Henry an MVP-caliber player this week and acknowledged that Cincinnati won’t see the same running back this year that they saw in the playoffs.
“And we know last year when we got him, he was coming off an injury,” said Taylor this week. “And so that’ll be a little bit different in what we see from him this week.”
Zac Taylor on Derrick Henry: "Derrick Henry is a premier player in this league, MVP-caliber player.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) November 23, 2022
"And we know last year when we got him, he was coming off an injury. And so that’ll be a little bit different in what we see from him this week."
The former Alabama standout isn’t quite back to his 2020 form when he rushed for over 2,000 yards, but he’s still on pace for the second-best season of his career (Henry has 1,010 rushing yards through 10 games).
Tennessee’s offense runs through Henry. If the Bengals can limit his success, they’ll have a pretty good chance to win the game.
Of course, that’s not the only thing the Bengals will have to worry about on Sunday when they head to Nashville to take on the Titans.
Tennessee’s defense plays hard. They take teams out of their game plan and force them to improvise. The Titans did it to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes a couple of weeks ago (Tennessee likely wins that game if Ryan Tannehill starts at quarterback instead of rookie Malik Willis). And there’s a good chance they’ll do it to Joe Burrow this week.
Burrow, however, is a lot like Mahomes in that he can improvise with the best of them.
It should be a fun chess match this week between Taylor, Burrow, and the Bengals and Mike Vrabel and the Titans.
Featured image via David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports