Get ready to see a lot of Derrick Henry against the Patriots. Running back DeMarco Murray is officially out for Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff in Foxboro, meaning that Henry will continue to be the Titans’ bell cow back.
The second-year back out of Alabama split carries with Murray for most of the 2017 season. But Henry excelled in Saturday’s win over the Chiefs with 156 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
The kid is huge. At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, Henry is practically the same exact size as linebacker Kyle Van Noy (6-foot-3, 243 pounds). Van Noy, as you’d expect, will be key in slowing Henry and the Titans’ running game down on Saturday.
Derrick Henry: By The Numbers
— The Patriots allowed the second-most yards per rush (4.7) in the NFL this season. The Titans, however, finished in the middle of the pack on offense. They gained 4.1 yards per attempt as a team, tied for 14th.
— Tennessee finished tied for second in the league with 18 rushing touchdowns, five of which went to Henry. New England, however, allowed the second-fewest with six. And the Titans allowed the fewest with five, so it’s unlikely that either team will be able to punch it in that way on Saturday.
— The Titans’ fatal flaw against the Patriots could be in the red zone. In the regular season they finished 20th in touchdowns per red zone appearance, according to Football Outsiders. They also finished 29th in TD-to-FG ratio. So if they keep settling for field goals, they’ll have a bad time.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
— And as you’d expect, the Patriots finished fourth in TDs allowed per red zone appearance and second with just 3.94 points allowed in those situations. Only the Chargers had a better red zone defense by those metrics, leaving the Pats as the stingiest red zone defense remaining in the playoffs.
What To Expect
As it often happens against the Patriots, Henry will likely gain a lot of yards between the 20s. Then the Patriots will likely lock them down in the red area and ultimately trade touchdowns for field goals. The hope is that the game is already well in hand by the fourth quarter so the Titans will be forced to take the ball out of Henry’s hands.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.