NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Titans are banged up and underdogs once again as they head to Los Angeles for Sunday night football. In other words, they have the Rams exactly where they want them.
Mike Vrabel has led the Titans to a league-best 17 upsets since taking over as head coach. After losing star running back Derrick Henry to a broken bone in his foot, the 6-2 Titans are 7-point underdogs against the 7-1 Rams.
Henry was on pace to become the first player in NFL history to post back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons and as soon as he got injured experts went from calling the Titans “the best team in the AFC” to “season over.”
The Titans certainly do not see it that way. AJ Brown described the Titans as ‘motivated’ in the wake of losing Henry.
Motivated or not they face a major challenge in a Rams team that is rolling an average of 30.6 points per game with a defensive front that is an absolute nightmare for any offensive line.
Quarterback Matt Stafford is having a stellar season in his first year with the Rams. Stafford has thrown for 2,477 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. Getting Stafford will be tough as he has only been sacked seven times in eight games.
Titans Sack Leaders-
- Harold Landry- 8.5
- Denico Autry- 3.5
- Jeffery Simmons- 2.5
- Ola Adeniyi- 2.5
If the Titans can’t get to Stafford it could set up Cooper Kupp to have another huge game. Kupp is rolling this year with 63 receptions for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has a catch of at least 30 yards in 7 of 8 games this season.
“Cooper Kupp is playing like the best receiver in the league right now,” said Titans safety Kevin Byard, “He has over 80 targets, 30 more than the next player on their team. We definitely know he is going to get 10-plus targets this game.”
Offensively the Titans have to figure out life after Derrick Henry who is out 6-10 weeks with a broken foot. The Titans brought in future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman to help fill the void. They certainly replaced the physicality with backs who come in at 220 and 240 pounds.
The Titans also have Jeremy McNichols who is their second-leading receiver with 21 receptions for 201 yards. The Titans are expected to utilize all three backs in a sort of running back by committee situation.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said there are a number of factors that will determine how much each back plays, “I think that production is obviously going to be key with whoever is out there. I also think being conscious of where they are conditioning-wise and trying to find roles with everybody,” said Vrabel.
Whoever is back there has to produce enough to continue to make the play-action pass a weapon for the Titans and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In the last two weeks, we’ve seen Tannehill hit AJ Brown with 18 receptions and 2 touchdowns.
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Brown is sure to grab the attention of Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. This week though, the Titans’ receiving corps is not expected to be a one-man-show. Julio Jones is expected to play after missing last week’s game against the Colts.
The other spot to watch for the Titans is at right guard where Nate Davis is out with a concussion. Rams star Aaron Donald is expected to try and exploit whoever lines up at that spot.
Second round Dillion Radunz has been the first man off the bench at guard in the last few weeks, but the Titans activated Aaron Brewer from injured reserve on Saturday. Whoever gets the call has his hands full with the most destructive lineman in the game.