The upstart Cincinnati Bengals have a shot at taking a huge step as a franchise when they take on the Tennessee Titans this weekend with a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line.
It'll be a cold, rocking atmosphere in Nashville when quarterback Joe Burrow, former Clemson star Tee Higgins and the rest of the Bengals make the short drive down from Ohio. It'll be a battle between a high-flying passing attack for the Bengals versus a Titans ground game that gets star running back Derrick Henry returning from an injury for the playoffs.
When: Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (CBS)
Betting line: Titans -3.5, total 47.5 according to FanDuel Sportsbook
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How they got here
Fourth-seeded Cincinnati Bengals: The AFC North winners knocked off the Las Vegas Raiders in last week's super wild-card round to advance to Saturday's showdown. Burrow threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and receiver Ja'Marr Chase caught nine passes for 116 yards in Cincinnati's 26-19 victory. It was the first playoff victory for the franchise in 31 years. In a sluggish game for both teams at times, and with a highly-criticized officiating crew, the Raiders had the ball late and in Bengals territory, but the defense forced a turnover on downs to hold on for the win.
Top-seeded Tennessee Titans: The AFC South champs earn a bye with the best record in the conference after the Titans held off a furious rally by the Houston Texans in Week 18. Tennessee has been without Henry since he suffered a foot fracture in Week 8. At the time, he had 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and was a candidate for NFL MVP. The Titans, behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill, went 6-3 without Henry to win the division for the second consecutive year.
Former Clemson players
Tee Higgins: The star receiver put together a 1,000-yard season in 2021, but he was quiet in the win over the Raiders. Higgins had just one catch for 10 yards on four targets after he was limited in practice last week with a foot injury. He didn't look 100% healthy in that playoff game, but Higgins, who had 74 catches and six touchdowns during the regular season, wasn't listed on this week's injury report, so he should be more of a factor against the Titans.
D.J. Reader: The former Clemson defensive tackle had two tackles against the Raiders for a depleted defensive front. The Bengals hope to be healthier for Saturday's game, and if Cincinnati comes out on top, Reader could be a big reason. Stopping Henry and the running game is the top priority for the Bengals.
Jackson Carman: The rookie offensive lineman didn't see any snaps on offense last week, but he did play on special teams. Carman started six games during the regular season and could be called upon off the bench against the Titans.
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