For the second week in a row, King Henry and his troops will prepare for battle as they look to dethrone yet another AFC powerhouse, this time the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last week, Tennessee commanded respect as a serious competitor after putting on a ruthless performance against the Buffalo Bills in a tremendous upset victory (34-31). Derrick Henry was on the front lines throughout the game, posting up 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns. To put it simply, the Bills’ defense had no answer for Henry. Heading into this week’s matchup, Henry will be looking to put on the same kind of performance.
In order for the Chiefs (3-3) to beat the Titans (4-2), they need to stop Henry. Period. End of story. But this is easier said than done, especially for the Chiefs who are currently ranked as the sixth-worst run defense in the NFL. This season, the Chiefs’ defense has struggled mightily, relying mainly on their dominant quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, to pick up the slack. The defense has allowed a total of 2,463 offensive yards this year—1,664 passing and 799 rushing.
Henry is one of the most explosive players in the NFL with a combined 783 rushing yards, for 10 touchdowns on 162 rushing attempts. But Henry’s biggest, most surreal strength comes from his ability to continue carrying after initial contact. So far, his rushing yards after contact amounts to a staggering 587 yards. More often than not, the Titans’ offense is virtually unstoppable with Henry leading the charge.
The game could really go either way, depending on a multitude of factors. If Henry can continue his almost inhumane performance against the Chiefs and keep Mahomes off the field, a Titans victory is very likely. However, it is important to note that the Titans' defense is an area of weakness as well. Going against Mahomes—who has thrown for 1,887 yards for 18 touchdowns with a 69% completion percentage and a 70.6 QBR—is just downright dangerous for the Titans defense. This is why it will be critical to keep the ball as long as possible.
Aside from Henry, the Titans have a series of offensive weapons at their disposal. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been having a solid season with 1,467 passing yards and six touchdowns and holds a 63.4% completion percentage with a 57.2 QBR. Then, there is Pro Bowler A.J. Brown and two-time All-Pro Julio Jones. Jones joined the Titans this season after being traded from the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason.
As of right now, injuries will play a major factor in Sunday’s game. The Titans were plagued by injuries in the game against Buffalo, one of them being to Jones. He is currently listed as “questionable” for Sunday's game after being injured late in the game against Buffalo. As for Kansas City, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have also been listed as ‘Questionable’.
This game will be a battle until the bitter end, if the Chiefs are going to walk away winners, they better be ready to dethrone the king.