The Tennessee Titans dropped a heartbreaking game to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12, 20-16.
The revenge game narrative was overhyped all week long and finding an ugly way to lose another close game to the Bengals only amplified the disdain many within the fanbase already has toward them.
Truthfully, the hardest pill to swallow in all this is how the Titans still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. They did beat the Commanders, but it was prior to their quarterback change that has sparked a resurgence for that franchise.
Tennessee played well enough to win this one, but it was far from the type of performance worth praising on either side of the ball.
Now that the Titans’ Week 12 game is officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to review and reflect on a few takeaways from Next Gen Stats.
Let’s dive right in and see what three things stood out most.
Tee Higgins kills the Titans in the fourth quarter
Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins continues to have a phenomenal season despite not having Ja’Marr Chase alongside him as of late. In total, Higgins caught seven passes for 114 yards and one touchdown on the day.
However, it was the fourth quarter when the Clemson product truly became a nuisance for the Titans. Higgins caught all three of his deep receptions in the final quarter, tied for the most in a fourth quarter since 2016.
Standing at 6-foot-4, the talented Bengals wide receiver was seemingly too big for the Titans’ defensive backs to defend, as he routinely won 50/50 balls with relative ease.
If the Titans are going to accomplish what they aim to do at the end of the year, their defensive backs have to figure out a way to counter these bigger wide receivers that are often capable of making plays over the top of them.
Titans' pass-rush has a rare disappointing outing
Needless to say, this was not the tenacious pass-rush the Titans displayed against the Bengals back in January.
The absence of Denico Autry was felt tremendously as the Bengals’ offensive line was able to focus more on limiting Jeffery Simmons’ presence.
Also, maybe it was the lingering hip injuries, but Bud Dupree seemed to lack the explosiveness and physicality that we’re used to seeing out of him whenever he’s on the field.
For the most part, this was collectively an extremely disappointing day for the entire defensive line, which had been the strength of the team for most of the year.
According to Next Gen Stats, not a single pass-rusher was able to average less than 4.3 yards of distance from Joe Burrow at the time of his throws/sacks.
For a group that usually has at least one, if not multiple defenders averaging under four yards of distance from the opposition, the entire team seemed to flutter around the league average against a very good quarterback.
In the end, the lack of a consistent pass-rush caught up to them as Burrow made enough plays to help his team win their third straight contest in as many tries.
Treylon Burks is developing into a stud
Over the last two weeks, Titans rookie Treylon Burks has finally started to develop into the type of player everyone envisioned he could be when he was selected with the No. 18 overall pick back in April.
The rookie technically accounted for his first career touchdown following a rare fumble by Henry led to Burks recovering it in the end zone for six.
Derrick Henry 69-yd rec & Treylon Burks TD
🔹 Henry Top Speed: 20.27 mph
🔹 Yards After Catch: 70
🔹 YAC Over Expected: +58*
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 27, 2022
This obviously wasn’t the ideal first career touchdown for Burks, but it was a great example of what can happen when you hustle all the way through the whistle.
Outside of the flukey touchdown, it was a pass that the Titans wideout caught later in the game that truly showed what Burks is capable of doing.
BIG. PLAY. BURKS. @TreylonBurks
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 27, 2022
Similarly to his Arkansas days, the Titans receiver went up and high-pointed the football over the nearest defender.
— Shaun Calderon (@ShaunMichaels31) April 29, 2022
This was an incredible, eye-popping play that ultimately put some much-needed points on the board for Tennessee.
According to Next Gen Stats, as of right now, Ryan Tannehill’s 51-yard pass to Burks is the second most improbable completion of the week. Tannehill’s pass to the rookie only had a 20.4 percent chance of being completed.
In total, over the last two weeks, Burks has averaged over 16 yards per reception en route to 181 combined receiving yards, along with the one touchdown by technicality.
Good things continue to happen when No. 16 is a priority for the offense, and with performances like these, that should only increase his role with each passing week.