Cincinnati Bengals: 3 keys to beating the Tennessee Titans

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Jason McCourty #30 of the Tennessee Titans knocks A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals out of bounds during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Jason McCourty #30 of the Tennessee Titans knocks A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals out of bounds during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Week 10 comes with a not so strange surprise, for this 2017 Bengals squad. It’s another journey into the land of pivotal games. The Titans come with a must-win tag and the Bengals seem to ignore those warnings. Over the past few years, games of this magnitude are always met with an indifferent attitude from the coaching staff and also the players. It’s hard to blame the athletes, since their psyches and philosophy of the game trickles down from the man in charge. Though the season seems to be dead already, a loss to the Titans would confirm that feeling for many.

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton have a distinct attribute they share. Big games tend to show up in the loss column. Now, that’s not saying that every battle with a primetime feel is going to be an L. But, the chances are good when it comes to the outcome of such matchups.

What has to be done to beat the Titans? Actually, the blueprint is there. But, game day seems to make Bengals’ coaches go brain dead. The talk all week is about what needs to be done. They seem to have a firm grasp of the opponent’s weaknesses. Then, like clockwork, it all falls apart. If the Bengals are looking to stay in the conversation about postseason play, Tennessee is where it starts.  They’re already a game down on the road trip.

Bill Lazor has to find a way 

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After a dismal (that’s a nice way of putting it) performance against the Jaguars, Lazor has to get it done. Moreover, he has to find a way for his players to get it right.

Things looked promising when he took the reins from Ken Zampese. But, since the giddy highs, the Bengals have fallen back to earth and occupy the bottom rung in offense. Yes, the Bengals’ O is just that stinky. Per, Cincinnati is stinkin’ up the league.

The passing game is the saving grace of the team. Dalton has had a decent year, despite running for his life behind a ragtag offensive line.  With Andre Smith and Eric Winston being thrust into action, there “may” be a sliver of hope. But, that’s pushing it. The only thing they bring is a veteran presence. In Lewis’ world, that’s all you need.

With Jeremy Hill being placed on injured reserve, there’s no longer a need for the running back follies. Joe Mixon should get the bulk of the carries. If he fails, then Giovani Bernard is the option until Mixon figures it out. Simple.

Dalton needs time. Titans defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau is no dummy. He has the Tennessee D humming. If the line gets swarmed with exotic blitzes, Andy will be in for another long day.

Get the running game going to keep the defense at bay. Please and thank you.

Paul Guenther needs a plan

The Bengals defense played a decent second half against the Jags. They were able to get the ball back to Dalton and Co., but they didn’t convert.

This should be the moment when a light goes on in DC Guenther’s head and he shares it with his crew. It’s all about the defense scoring. The Bengals pulled off a victory against the Colts with a Carlos Dunlap interception. For this team to start any sort of run, there has to be a complete game on both sides of the ball.

There can be no 30-minute games. Both the first and second halves need to be played with a complete understanding of what needs to be done. Shabby tackling has killed the Bengals. Week 10 should be a statement against a rising team. If they can’t beat another team that seems to be playoff bound, there’s no need to even think of getting to the dance.

Guenther needs to think outside of the blueprint that has become a W for opponents. Stop the run. Plain, with no chaser. Stop the Titans on third down and get off the field. Hopefully, the offense will back the good defense with a long scoring drive.

Know it has to start now

There is no next week for the Bengals. Every game has to feel like the last one on the schedule. They have to play like it’s January and a loss sends them home.

Lazor made a comment that covered the attitude of the entire team. In essence, he addressed the flat play of the team coming out of the Bye Week. He’s only one year deep and can see what Bengals fans and analysts have witnessed for years.

There has to be a nastiness that’s tapped into. Please forgive me, but I must. Simply put, the Bengals need to have the same sleeper hold mentality that A.J. Green displayed against Jalen Ramsey. There. It’s been said.

Hill put it in layman’s terms.

"“We can’t afford any more losses at this point of the season. It’s here, it’s now.”"

How far this team goes depends on how bad they want it.