With a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense led by a resurgent quarterback, the Cincinnati Bengals have established themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL. The Bengals seek to extend their home winning streak to a record 11 straight games and start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2006 when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. It could be a long afternoon for the Titans and mercurial quarterback Jake Locker after they managed just 68 yards in the first half against a Dallas defense that surrendered 415 yards a game in 2013.
The Titans will provide Andy Dalton and the Bengals a stern test through the air, having allowed a league-low 163 passing yards through two games. Dalton could be without his top weapon, wide receiver A.J. Green, who left early last week with a toe injury. "If it's feeling good, then I'm going to go," Green said after practice Wednesday. "If it's not, then we'll go from there."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bengals -7. O/U: 43
ABOUT THE TITANS (1-1): Tennessee, which is second in the NFL with eight sacks, has shown a formidable pass rush since switching to the 3-4. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton likes to bring defensive backs on the blitz, but beware, Dalton burned the Falcons' blitz last week with a 74-yard TD to Mohamed Sanu. Dalton was 6-of-9 against extra pass rushers on the game. Fans in Nashville are getting impatient with Locker, who couldn't convert any of his third downs passing against Dallas in the first half, leading to a big deficit and just 19 minutes of possession time for the game.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (2-0): A slimmer Dalton is completing 66 percent of his passes for 553 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but even more impressive is no sacks or turnovers in wins against Baltimore and Atlanta. Giovani Bernard, who had a career-high 169 yards from scrimmage last week, is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The Bengals will look to get him going against a defense that was slashed for 220 yards and a 5.1 average by the Cowboys last week. Led by linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, the defense is yielding a league-low 5.43 yards per pass play and has stymied both Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, but there is concern over linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was diagnosed with a concussion in each game this season.
1. The Bengals lead the AFC with 426 total yards per game and a plus-five takeaway margin.
2. Titans TE Delanie Walker had 10 catches for 140 yards and a 61-yard TD against the Cowboys - the first Titan to reach those marks since Drew Bennett in 2004.
3. The Bengals won a franchise-high 10 straight games during the 1988-89 season.
PREDICTION: Bengals 24, Titans 10