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All Bengals Staff Makes Picks for Saturday's Playoff Matchup Against Titans

Will Cincinnati win their first road playoff game in franchise history?

CINCINNATI — The Bengals hit the road to play the Titans in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs on Saturday. Will Cincinnati pull off the upset on the road and advance to the AFC Championship Game?

The All Bengals team made our predictions for the matchup. Check them out below!

Elise Jesse, All Bengals Insider

Season Record: 9-9

Cincinnati is the newcomer to the divisional round, but they’re led by a guy who sat back at the podium last week rocking Cartier square-frame sunglasses and a cool demeanor. If you didn’t know any better you’d think he’s been there before.

Joe Burrow is now tasked with taking his team into Tennessee to face the top seed in the AFC. While taking down a No. 1 seed won’t be easy, you can bet Burrow already has a plan to exploit the Titans and he won’t need to wear the plays on a wristband to accomplish that.

In order to keep Tennessee’s vicious pass rush honest, the Bengals will have to do what they’ve been doing all year which is to the ball to Joe Mixon early and in a lot of different ways. Establishing the run will be important in keeping Burrow upright this weekend with Jeffrey Simmons exploding off the line of scrimmage.

I think Burrow’s connection with the Soul Snatcher—Ja’Marr Chase—will continue to be strong. If not, he can rely on Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and C.J. Uzomah.

Cincinnati is dealing with injuries on the defensive line and they must contain Tennessee’s run game with Derrick Henry expected to return.

The Titans are 2-3 in playoff home games since relocating from Houston and I think they drop to 2-4 on Saturday after Cincinnati escapes Nashville with a win.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Titans 24

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Russ Heltman, All Bengals Contributor

Season Record: 7-11

Hello Week 20, it's been far too long.

Cincinnati proved they aren't the same old Bengals all season, and now they have another chance to break an ugly streak. The franchise has never won a road playoff game (0-7).

They've also never had Burrow—a player who makes all things possible. He will be the difference in a rare even matchup between a one-seed and four-seed. We know the two sides of the coin offensively with a strong Bengals passing attack (0.167 dropback EPA per play, No. 7 vs. Titans' 0.092 dropback EPA per play, No. 14) against a strong Titans rushing attack (-0.054 rush EPA per play, No. 13 vs. Bengals' -0.098, No. 22).

On defense, Tennessee is 13th in EPA/play allowed, and Cincinnati is 14th. The difference comes down to quarterback play in a game where Zac Taylor must live and die with Burrow. According to The Athletic, Aaron Rodgers and Burrow are the only quarterbacks currently riding five-game streaks of having no turnovers combined with a 100-plus passer rating.

Translation: "Joey Franchise" is on fire. Taylor needs to largely throw out the run game, pass on 70-plus percent of early downs, and live with the result. Taylor called 21 early-down runs at -0.23 EPA/play for just a 19% success rate against Las Vegas. The run game isn't going to improve until the offseason, but all Burrow does is get better.

The star quarterback knocks down another barrier, and Bengals fans start reserving hotels in Buffalo or Kansas City.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Titans 26

Nicole Zembrodt, All Bengals Contributor

Season Record: 8-10

Cincinnati's playoff win drought is over, but it's just another step towards their Super Bowl aspirations.

The Bengals are on the road against a fresh Titans team with star running back Derrick Henry expected to be back for the first time since Week 8. Henry is a bulldozer, but even with him missing most of the season, Tennessee finished with the NFL's fifth-best rushing offense. Cincinnati's defense has given up 4.4 yards per rushing attempt this season. Although Larry Ogunjobi was lost for the season, Trey Hendrickson will play after suffering a concussion last week. 

This game will be another opportunity for Burrow to continue his hot hand. Tennessee is 25th in pass defense allowing 245 yards per game and 60 plays of 20+ yards in the air. Cincinnati's pass protection will need to hold up against a front-seven led by Simmons. They have 43 sacks this season.

Both teams have overcome their own adversities this season. The Titans went 6-3 after their best player went down, while the Bengals went from worst to first in the AFC North, proving many wrong about this young, talented roster.

Cincinnati continues the season narrative and gets upset in the Music City.

Prediction: Bengals 30, Titans 28

Blake Jewell, All Bengals Contributor

Season Record: 12-6

The Titans have a fantastic running game that could cause issues for the Bengals on Saturday. The big advantage for the Bengals? Burrow. With a better quarterback, the keys to winning this game are getting an early lead, forcing Ryan Tannehill to throw the ball, and consistently scoring points. 

The best way to stop Henry is to outscore him. If the Bengals get out to an early lead, Burrow and the Bengals offense can control the game and limit Henry from beating them.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Titans 21

Mike Santagata, All Bengals Film Analyst

Season Record: 10-8

The Titans are coming off of a bye and are getting Henry back, which is a scary proposition. On the other hand, the Bengals have been one of the hottest offenses in football over the past few weeks. With that in mind, this game has the chance to produce fireworks.

When it comes to their defense, the Titans have a pretty nasty duo of defensive tackles with solid players elsewhere on their front. On the back end, they have a good safety duo, but the cornerbacks are not the best. This makes for an interesting matchup with the Bengals, who have a lackluster offensive line, but a very talented wide receiver group. If Cincinnati's pass protection can hold up, they should have a big day on offense. 

Even though the Bengals have the better quarterback, I'm going to go with the No. 1 seed Titans in this matchup. It will be a very close game, and the Bengals could win, but I lean towards Tennessee with their extra rest and home field advantage.

Prediction: Titans 31, Bengals 30

Lindsay Patterson, All Bengals Reporter

Season Record: 6-4

The Titans are a number one seed for a reason and the way they played without Henry shouldn't be overlooked.

With Hendrickson set to play, this Bengals' defensive line needs to step up with Larry Ogunjobi out. 

It's also about stopping A.J. Brown and how the secondary matches up with the Titans' offense.

The Bengals have to start out fast and field goals won't work in the red zone this week. If they get the lead I think they can balance out the offense, but I'd like to see Mixon have some receiving yards too. January Joey is putting up the numbers over the last few weeks and I think we see that again. This time around I look for Higgins and Chase to have a balanced day in the air with both finding the end zone.

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Am I riding the optimistic side on this one? Yes. Will I change my mind before Saturday, probably more than once.

Prediction: Bengals 34, Titans 31

James Rapien, All Bengals Publisher

Season Record: 9-9

This game is a coin flip and I've gone back and forth this week, but there's something about this Bengals team. They're a veteran laden defense and most of their guys have faced Henry, Brown and Julio Jones before. 

And offensively the Bengals have a bunch young guys that look like the next generation of game changing stars. From Burrow to Chase and Higgins to a reliable weapon like Boyd. 

Cincinnati has the quarterback, they have the pieces. If they protect Burrow, they'll win the game. They do just enough to escape with a their first road playoff victory in franchise history. 

Prediction: Bengals 31, Titans 27

For more on Saturday's contest, watch Lindsay Patterson's exclusive conversation with T.J. Houshmandzadeh below. 

Make sure you bookmark All Bengals for the latest NFL news, exclusive interviews, film breakdowns and so much more!

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