Scouting preview: Evenly matched talent puts premium on Titans and Bengals coaches

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The more tape I watched of the Bengals and Titans leading up to this game the more one thought kept entering my mind.

The game will be less about the players and more about the coaches.

The Bengals and Titans are very similar talent-wise, and the strengths and weaknesses are almost a mirror image.I Believe In Tennessee

Both have capable and efficient quarterbacks, who distribute the ball well when they have all their weapons. They each have running games that can be impactful and force defenses to adjust and take away that running threat.

Each team has top-level wide receivers who must be focused on by coverage and have serviceable tight ends who will help in the short passing games and the red zone.

Each of the offensive lines is solid with the Titans holding a slight advantage as run blockers.

On the defensive side of the ball, everything starts up front.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Things are set up perfectly.

But the Tennessee Titans seem to be working hard to be conscious that a No. 1 seed and a home game guarantee nothing.

Derrick Henry

Courtesy Tennessee Titans

Kevin Byard was eloquent about how the Titans, as a sixth-seed, knocked out top-seeded Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium and how Tennessee can’t be lulled into any sense of security from being the AFC’s top team and earning the week off.

Others are banging the same drum.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – He gave up coaching after the 2017 football season.

But this week Jay Roth’s phone has been ringing and buzzing with texts.

Ja'Marr Chase, Jay Roth, Kristian Fulton

Ja'Marr Chase, and Kristian Fulton with their high school coach, Jay Roth/ Courtesy Jay Roth

Now athletic director at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, La., people want to know about two stars he coached near the end of his tenure as the school’s football coach: Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton and Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who are sure to face off some in a divisional-round playoff game at Nissan Stadium Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool how those guys are in the NFL, how many people are calling,” Roth said. “It’s pretty exciting. Those guys are keeping me relevant.”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Happy wild card weekend! 

If you're in Nashville I suspect you've bought up all the bread and are ready to hunker down and watch all the games. I know you've bought all the sleds. There is not one to be found. I am fortunate that my son's friends are a sharing people.

Tennessee Titans logo wall

Thanks for a nice mailbag full of good questions. Here's a good read to hold you over with some Titans info and thoughts.

I'll do a members broadcast once we know the opponent for next weekend, which will probably be at the half of the Steelers-Chiefs game. I'll send the text message.

Here we go...

DeWayne Gee What is going on with the developments with the Titans’ land project and stadium lease? Why is it so quiet on that news front?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Votes have been cast for all the Associated Press’ post-season awards.

The All-Pro Team will be announced Friday morning. But MVP, Coach of the Year and the other individual awards will be revealed at the NFL Honors show, which has been moved this year to the middle of Super Bowl week. That will be held Thursday, Feb. 10.

Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson

Mike Vrabel’s case for Coach of the Year was certainly strong, and I think his primary competition should have been Zac Taylor. I know Matt LaFleur was a popular candidate too.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Through two-and-a-half seasons, Ryan Tannehill has been a very good fit in the Titans’ system.

Some people hurl that at him as an insult.

Ryan Tannehill

Pool photo/ Tennessee Titans

But being in a place where coaches put you in advantageous positions and try to minimize situations that expose your weaknesses is smart football functionality. With Tannehill as their quarterback, the Titans are 30-13 in the regular season.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Mike Vrabel and his staff inserted 91 players into their lineup over 17 games, the coach talked to every available player each Wednesday.

If you are here, on the 53-man roster, on the 16-man practice squad, you may play, we need you to work this week as if you will play.

Mike Vrabel

Pool photo/ Donald Page, Tennessee Titans

He was taken seriously as evidenced not just by the numbers called into action, but the contributions made by them in a 12-5 season that earned the Titans the No. 1 seed in the AFC and an automatic spot in the conference’s final foul.

The psychology of getting guys amped up for chances is one thing, but there have been come-downs to follow. Vrabel has had a good touch, too, with the human nature involved with that.

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