Titans’ reasons for optimism and concern in Week 9 vs. Rams

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Tennessee Titans go into their Week 9 game against the Los Angeles Rams with one major concern: the absence of running back Derrick Henry.

Henry broke a bone in his foot during the Week 8 win over the Indianapolis Colts that required surgery which will sideline him anywhere from six to 10 weeks, or quite possibly the rest of the season in the worst-case scenario.

Meanwhile, the Rams are riding high coming into this game. Like the Titans, they have won four-straight games, but unlike the Titans they have made a major addition instead of a subtraction after trading for Von Miller.

While the loss of Henry is chief among the Titans’ concerns going into this game against the Rams, it certainly isn’t the only one. Here’s a look at what the biggest reasons for both optimism and concern are for Tennessee going into Week 9.

Optimism: Titans' resiliency

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans are heavy underdogs in this game and all 39 of the NFL expert picks we rounded up have the Rams winning — and this is just the way the Titans like it.

Over the course of the past few years, whenever the Titans have their backs against the wall and aren’t expected to win, they go ahead and shock the world with a victory.

We’ve already seen it twice this year, and multiple times more since 2019. Even more so than normal, the Titans will be motivated to win this game.

Concern: No Derrick Henry

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Not having Henry in the lineup is huge for multiple reasons.

Not only is Henry arguably the most explosive player in the NFL and someone who can change a game on a dime with a big play, he also forces defenses to bring extra help upfront, opening things up for the passing attack.

Barring Adrian Peterson finding the fountain of youth, the Rams won’t have to respect the run as much, thus allowing them to pin their ears back and get after Ryan Tannehill, while also being able to drop more players back.

Tennessee must establish the run to change that and allow their play-action game to thrive, but it’ll be difficult to do so without Henry in the lineup.

Optimism: The return of Julio Jones

AP Photo/Wade Payne

After sitting out in Week 8, his third missed game, Jones is set to make his return to the field on Sunday night.

And it’s a huge addition for Tennessee, a team that needs all hands on deck offensively after losing Henry for what could be the season.

Such a loss could force the Titans to lean on the passing attack more, but that approach won’t be successful if Jones and A.J. Brown aren’t playing and at their best.

We’ve seen Brown get back on track, but now the Titans need to see that from Julio also if they want to have a chance to win on Sunday night, and weather the storm until The King returns.

Concern: Rams' passing attack

Syndication: The Record

The Titans’ secondary has been much better of late, but there are still major concerns to be had and the unit will once again be without its best cornerback, Kristian Fulton.

That is particularly troubling against a potent passing attack like the Rams’, which is capable of ripping off big plays, something Tennessee has struggled to stop.

The addition of Matthew Stafford has provided a huge upgrade for Los Angeles’ passing attack. The Rams rank fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game after ranking 14th in 2020.

Adding to that, the Rams have an impressive trio of weapons for Stafford to throw to in Cooper Kupp, who leads the NFL in receiving yards, and Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Optimism: Titans' pass-rush

AP Photo/Wade Payne

While the Titans might not have the secondary to contend with the Rams’ air attack, they do have a pass-rush capable of shutting it down before it gets off the ground.

The Titans come into this game with 18 sacks, tied for 13th in the NFL. That number is one fewer than Tennessee had all last season. While not elite, the Titans have been getting consistent pressure on a weekly basis.

Tennessee’s pass-rush has been spear-headed by Harold Landry, whose 8.5 sacks are tied for second-most in the NFL. The Titans have also gotten significant contributions from Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, and Bud Dupree has slowly looked more and more like himself these last few weeks.

We’ve seen the Titans slow potent offenses like the Buffalo Bills’ and Kansas City Chiefs’ with their pass-rush. They’ll need an elite effort if they want to beat the Rams on Sunday.

Concern: Rams' pass-rush

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Even before mentioning the addition of Von Miller, the Rams’ pass-rush was one to be feared. Superstar defensive lineman Aaron Donald continues to wreak havoc on defenses and is the No. 1 priority for the Titans upfront.

In all, the Rams have 25 sacks, the most in the NFL, and they should be licking their chops with a matchup against a Titans offensive line that has been shaky in pass protection in 2021.

Not only do the Titans have to be concerned with Donald and Miller (if he plays), but Leonard Floyd is also having a great season with 6.5 sacks, the most of any Rams defender.

Tennessee has ceded 24 sacks, which is tied for the fourth-most in the NFL and one fewer than they gave up all last season. It’ll take a miracle for Tennessee to not add to that total in Week 9.

1

1