Titans vs Bengals Tale of the Tape: Who has the edge?

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /
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Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Titans vs Bengals Tale of the Tape: Running back

Cincinnati Bengals

When discussing the best running backs in the league, Joe Mixon’s name is seldom brought up. In 2018 and 2019, Mixon rushed for well over 1,100 yards. We won’t hold his injury-hit 2020 against him. Instead, we’ll pay more attention to his pattern of consistency. This year, Mixon rushed for a career-high 1,205 yards per game, making it three consecutive healthy seasons in which he broke through the thousand yard barrier.

When the passing game isn’t going for the Bengals, Mixon is relied on heavily to get things done. To prove how explosive Mixon can be, look no further than his Week 12 showing against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mixon ran all over Mike Tomlin’s defense to the tune of 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The passing game of the Bengals will always be focused upon but Mixon truly gets this team going with his violent rushing style on the ground.

Tennessee Titans

Before being forced to miss more than half the season due to a foot injury, Derrick Henry was well on his way to a historic season. Over the past two years, Henry ran away with the rushing title. In fact, his 2,027 rushing total from last year ranked fifth in the history of the NFL.

With an extra game to work with, Henry seemed poised to take care of Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and break his all-time single season rushing record. But, unfortunately for Henry, he was forced to hit the sidelines.

Interestingly enough, the Titans were still very much a powerhouse in terms of running the ball. With Henry touting the rock, the Titans rushed for 147.6 yards per game. Without him, they rushed for 135.8, not a huge difference.

While Henry will return this coming weekend, is his presence enough to give them the edge in the rushing department?

Verdict: Titans

Joe Mixon is one of the best running backs in the league. At some point, maybe in the not-so-distant future, he will be considered the best running back in the NFL. But that time isn’t now.

The Tennessee Titans have made it this far due to their reliable rushing attack. Ryan Tannehill simply isn’t the sort of player that will lead the Titans to the promised land. If Henry wasn’t poised to make his return, maybe the Bengals would’ve swayed us in their direction. But when you have a generational running back on your side of the field, particularly one that can either run right pass or over you, we have to side with him.