How Derrick Henry injury impacts Patriots' outlook, Week 12 game vs. Titans

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How Derrick Henry injury impacts Patriots' outlook, Week 12 game vs. Titans originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Tennessee Titans' best and most important player, running back Derrick Henry, could be lost for the rest of the 2021 NFL season after he suffered a foot injury during Sunday's Week 8 win against the Indianapolis Colts.

Here's a report from NFL Media's Ian Rapoport:

How does Henry's injury impact the New England Patriots?

These teams play each other at Gillette Stadium in Week 12. It was one of the toughest games remaining on the Patriots' schedule, and while it won't be a cakewalk for New England assuming Henry doesn't play, the matchup would certainly be a lot more favorable for Bill Belichick's team if that was the case.

Henry has dominated the league over the last two seasons, and he's been particularly effective versus the Patriots.

He's rushed for 240 yards (5.3 per carry) and three touchdowns over his last two games against New England. His most recent performance was a memorable one. He ran for 182 yards and a touchdown as the Titans upset the Pats in the 2019 AFC Wild Card Round in Foxboro, which also happened to be Tom Brady's final game as a Patriot.

The Titans reportedly are signing veteran Adrian Peterson on Monday to help replace Henry. Peterson is 36 years old, and in three career games versus the Patriots he's tallied just 130 rushing yards (3.4 per carry) with one touchdown. 

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A weakened Titans team also impacts the Patriots from the perspective of the AFC playoff race. The Patriots will enter Week 9 just a half game behind the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, and a full game out of the No. 5 seed. In addition to playing the Patriots in Week 12, the Titans also will play the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in Week 15. The Steelers are one of the teams barely ahead of the Patriots in the AFC wild card chase.

The Titans are pretty unlikely to fall into the wild card race and battle the Patriots for one of those three spots. Tennessee shouldn't have much trouble winning the AFC South, even without Henry, because that division is putrid.