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The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t have long to bask in the glory of their first playoff victory in over three decades, as they have a date with the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in Music City this Saturday. The Bengals are one of two NFL franchises that have never won a road playoff game, but they certainly have hope with Joe Burrow at quarterback.
The main headline of this matchup is the return of star running back Derrick Henry, who is expected to make his first start since suffering a foot injury on Halloween. It remains to be seen what kind of workload he’s in line for and if he will look like the same back who carried the Titans to the playoffs last year, but his return will certainly provide some juice for the Titans.
Below, we will examine the different betting angles for this matchup. We will provide picks from both CBS Sports and SportsLine experts on this AFC showdown, as well as a few player props that we view as enticing.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 22 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: Nissan Stadium (Nashville, TN)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Odds: Titans -3.5, O/U 47.5
Bengals at Titans spread picks
“Hi, I’m the guy who has been betting against the Titans all season long, and I see no reason to stop now. If you’re going to do it, it’s best to do it when the Titans are favored. Tennessee is 10-7 ATS on the season, but it’s 4-5 ATS as a favorite compared to 6-2 as a dog. And while it’s a good team that’s getting back to full strength, I still don’t have a healthy Tennessee team as being this large a favorite against the Bengals.
“I’ve watched Joe Burrow thrive in too many big spots already to go against him now. This isn’t a fluke. I’m not going to proclaim that Burrow is already an elite QB and embarking on a Hall of Fame career just yet, but Burrow is definitely elite and will be in the Hall of Fame (as long as he stays healthy). The surest way to get there is by covering the spread! Join me on the bandwagon now, so 20 years from now, you too can say that you knew it all along.” — CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli is banking on Burrow this weekend. To read his divisional round column, click here.
“If this game turns into a shootout, you have to like Cincinnati’s chances, especially since they’re going up against a Titans defense that struggles to stop the pass. During the regular season, the Titans were one of just eight teams in the league that surrendered more than 245 pass yards per game. If the Bengals can take advantage of that, it might be tough for Tennessee to keep up in a shootout.
“The Bengals have NEVER won a road playoff game in franchise history (0-7), but after watching them end their 31-year drought without a playoff win, it’s starting to feel like they’re going to be ending a lot droughts this year.” — CBS Sports’ Bengals expert John Breech is on Cincy this weekend to score an upset victory. To read his full explanation and all of his picks for this round of the postseason, click here.
“The Bengals are a much more scary matchup for the Titans than the Las Vegas Raiders would have been. If you had to point out a weakness on the Titans, it has to be the secondary/pass defense. Tennessee finished the regular season with the eighth-worst pass defense in the NFL, and the Bengals have a legitimate “big three” at receiver with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and a great quarterback in Joe Burrow tossing the rock. The Bengals have what it takes to pull off an upset, but the Titans are the No. 1 seed in the AFC for a reason.
“Nissan Stadium is going to be rocking on Saturday, and it’s mostly because Derrick Henry is expected to make his return to the field. It’s fair to question if he will look like the same dynamic playmaker after two-and-a-half months off, but Tennessee is going to run the ball no matter who’s taking it from Ryan Tannehill. This Bengals defensive line has some issues worth worrying about. Larry Ogunjobi was placed on injured reserve, Mike Daniels is dealing with a groin injury and Josh Tupou has a knee injury — although he’ll play. I’m taking the Titans. The 3.5-point line is a bit weird, but winning teams are covering in the playoffs.” — CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani is taking the Titans to win and cover on Saturday. To read his full column, click here.
Bengals at Titans total picks
“The Titans are 8-9 to the Over this season, but went 5-3 to the Over with Derrick Henry in the lineup. While the Bengals-Raiders Under cashed after Derek Carr failed to tie the game on the very last play, we saw this Cincy offense put up 34 points on the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this month. The Bengals also finished the regular season seventh in points scored per game (27.1). Saying we could be in for a ‘shootout’ may be too strong of a descriptor, but I’m leaning to the Over.” — CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani
Before making any Bengals vs. Titans picks or any other NFL predictions, you need to see what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say. The model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up over $7,500 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception six-plus years ago. The model enters the divisional round of the 2021 NFL playoffs on an incredible 137-97 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates back to the 2017 season. Amazingly, it hasn’t missed a top-rated pick since Week 14 of the regular season. To check out what the simulations have to say about the spread and the total in this matchup, head on over to SportsLine.
Evan McPherson OR Randy Bullock Over 2.5 made extra points (McPherson +120, Bullock +100): Take the Over on the made extra points prop for the kicker of the team you think wins. I may get crazy and take both, parlay them together!
Joe Mixon receiving yards: Over 21.5 (-115). I told you to take this Over last week and we needed just one catch to cross it. Vegas bumped up his line two yards, but I’ll still take a flier on it. Just look at his last few games: Mixon caught four passes for 28 yards last week against the Raiders, seven passes for 40 yards against the Chiefs and six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
Geoff Swaim receiving yards: Under 11.5 (-110). You probably weren’t expecting to read about a Geoff Swaim prop, huh? Taking an Under on such a small number is certainly something to think about, but here’s my thought process: Anthony Firkser is the Titans’ starting tight end, the main receiving tight end and he’s coming off of his best performance of the season against the Houston Texans with 56 yards and a touchdown. He will be getting targets in the receiving game, not Swaim. Swaim has 40 targets on the season — and while he’s averaging 13.1 receiving yards per game — he hasn’t crossed 11.5 yards since Week 14.