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Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Prediction, preview, pick to win

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The Sports Xchange
Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans play host to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans play host to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-4) AT TENNESSEE TITANS (5-3)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Nissan Stadium. TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 74th regular-season meeting. Titans lead series, 39-33-1. There have been some interesting and memorable games between these two old AFC Central rivals. The Bengals were the opponent in the first game at Nissan Stadium (then called Adelphia Coliseum) as the newly rechristened Titans rallied behind Steve McNair for a win.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans rank second from the bottom in the NFL in sacks, but Jurrell Casey and Derrick Morgan can test the Bengals' struggling offensive line.

The Bengals signed veteran Eric Winston to take over for Jake Fisher, who's out for the season due to illness. Winston has experience, knows the Bengals' system and could help boost the line. The Bengals' running game needs to get going. They are averaging barely three yards per carry this season.

The Bengals' offense has struggled this season, and the Titans have been inconsistent themselves. The Titans need to get their running game back on track, but they also need a productive day from Marcus Mariota and might even have to pass to set up the run, given that Cincinnati's run defense is solid.

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Defensively, Tennessee has improved greatly in recent weeks, but has not been challenged by a top offense. The Titans must slow down A.J. Green and find a way to rattle Andy Dalton in the pocket.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Titans WR Corey Davis vs. Bengals CB Adam Jones. Jones, a first-round pick of the Titans in 2005, was a talented and troubled player in his time in Tennessee. The Titans might try to take advantage of Jones, who isn't the tallest of corners, by using Davis and his size to their advantage.

--Bengals QB Andy Dalton vs. Titans FS Kevin Byard. Byard leads the league with six interceptions, including five in the last two games. He has 10 passes defensed and 30 tackles. Dalton will put the ball up for grabs if pressured; and, although they haven't notched many sacks, the Titans are getting pressure on the QB.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Titans TE Delanie Walker. Despite being bothered by an ankle with a bone bruise, Walker continues to shine as the Titans' best target. Despite limited work in practice last week, Walker caught all five passes thrown his way last Sunday. He has a team-high 37 receptions this season.

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FAST FACTS: Bengals QB Andy Dalton had an 18-yard TD catch in the last meeting. He passed for three TDs in his only career game at Tennessee, on Nov. 6, 2011. In the past four games on the road, he has eight TD passes and two interceptions. ... RB Joe Mixon had a rushing TD last week. He is one of two rookie RBs (Kareem Hunt) with 250 rushing yards (284) and 200 receiving yards (204). ... DT Geno Atkins has 57 sacks since entering the league in 2010, the most among NFL DTs. He ranks second among NFL DTs with five sacks in 2017. ... Titans QB Marcus Mariota passed for two TDs last week. In his past nine games at home, he has 16 passing TDs and three interceptions. ... RB Derrick Henry rushed for a TD last week. He aims for his third game in a row at home with a rushing TD. ... S Kevin Byard had two interceptions in Week 9. He has five interceptions in the past two games, tied for the most by a player in consecutive games since 1970. He leads the NFL with six interceptions.

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PREDICTION: The Bengals' offense is too limited to win many games, unless the opponent is even more limited or makes a lot of mistakes. The Titans don't appear to fit either category, so they should stretch their winning streak to four games.

OUR PICK: Titans, 23-14.

--Bucky Dent

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