The Cincinnati Bengals are gearing up for an all-important tilt against the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round. Joe Burrow and company took care of business against the Las Vegas Raiders but now face a stiffer test on the road. Tee Higgins was quiet in the Wild Card Round. However, the Bengals wide receiver must come up big to eliminate Tennessee from the NFL playoffs.
Tee Higgins took a step forward in Year 2
The Cincinnati Bengals struck gold when they landed Tee Higgins with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The former Clemson Tigers standout enjoyed a highly-productive college football career. He was one of the most talented wideouts in the draft class.
It didn’t take long for Higgins to make an impact in Cincinnati. He recorded 67 receptions for 908 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie.
The 23-year old receiver took a step forward in 2021. He caught 74 passes for 1,091 yards and six scores in 14 games. Higgins missed three games and still eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Not to mention, he played alongside Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon.
With plenty of mouths to feed in Cincinnati, Higgins still found ways to be productive. His 110 targets were second on the team, with Chase leading the way (128).
The Oak Ridge, Tennessee native is establishing himself as an ultra-reliable weapon for star quarterback Joe Burrow.
Why the Bengals WR will be key against the Titans
The Bengals boast one of the most explosive offenses in the entire NFL. They can beat a defense in multiple ways and have the tools to run up the scoreboard any given week.
However, the Tennessee Titans will present a tough test for Joe Burrow and the crew. Cincinnati needs Tee Higgins to have a solid outing to help set the tone on the road.
Higgins had a quiet game against the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round. He saw just four targets, catching one pass for 10 yards. Lackluster performances are rare for the second-year wideout. However, Ja’Marr Chase had a monster performance.
The Bengals cannot afford to neglect Higgins in the Divisional Round. Throughout the season, he’s excelled at making contested catches across the middle and downfield. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Higgins is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s also a legitimate scoring threat in the red zone.
The Titans could potentially match ball-hawking safety Kevin Byard up with Higgins due to his physicality. Still, Burrow can’t shy away from targeting his big-bodied receiver.
What Cincinnati must do to upset Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans are the No. 1 seed, but the Cincinnati Bengals certainly aren’t lacking in confidence heading into their Divisional Round matchup.
Zac Taylor’s squad secured the franchise’s first playoff win since 1990 in the Wild Card Round. Still, Cincinnati isn’t satisfied. The Bengals want more, and they must upset the Titans in Nashville to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
This team has shocked many people in 2021 and has what it takes to keep it going against Tennessee. Joe Burrow and the offense have been on fire lately and should be able to put up points on the Titans.
Tennessee is one of the best run-stopping teams in the league. However, the defense is not nearly as good defending the pass. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are all capable of having big games against the Titans secondary. Meanwhile, running back Joe Mixon may not have as much success.
If the Bengals win, it will likely be because Burrow lit Tennessee up through the air. The Titans’ pass rush will be a massive test for Cincinnati’s offensive line, though.
The Bengals’ defense will also have its hands full trying to stop the run. With Derrick Henry expected back, it could be an uphill battle.
If Cincinnati can keep Joe Burrow clean and slow down Tennessee’s potent rushing attack, it has a solid chance at pulling off the upset.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.