Lexus may have a “December to Remember,” but the Titans’ Derrick Henry is hoping to continue his “December of Destruction.”
Call it luck, call it a narrative quirk, call it the NFL’s most bruising running back tearing through tired defenses, call it whatever you like, but Henry’s performance in December throughout his career is something that cannot be easily ignored.
Last week in Jacksonville, he went for 222 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. That made up for his 60-yard dud against the Browns the week before, but in his defense, the Titans did fall behind 459-0* in the first half (*estimated).
This week, Henry and the AFC South-leading Titans look to continue their dominance from last week, and on paper, the matchup could not be juicier.
Home against the Detroit Lions and their 29th-ranked defense — and potentially lacking their starting quarterback Matt Stafford — the Titans are set up to continue their winning ways.
Additionally, the Titans can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Ravens loss, or with a win and Raiders and Dolphins losses (and a Browns victory).
Titans very good, very confusing
So is there a way the Titans could blow this seeming slam dunk, home run, goaaaaal! spot?
Well, this is the 2020 Tennessee Titans we’re talking about, a team that just when you think you’ve figured them out, they go and give up 3,829 points to the Browns.
If the Lions were to compete in this game, it would probably be through the air. The Titans pass defense is 29th in the league in yards allowed per game, and the Lions, under interim head coach (and offensive coordinator) Darrell Bevell have leaned pass-heavy. Of course, if Stafford sits and Chase Daniel gets the nod, the entire Lions offense gets ticked down a notch. Furthermore, the Lions will probably be without Kenny Golladay, who hasn’t played since he injured his hip against the Colts nearly two months ago.
So despite the Titans pass defense woes, the chance of the Lions airing it out — and succeeding — doesn’t exactly leap off the page.
Could the Lions do it through their explosive rookie running back, D’Andre Swift? Perhaps, but they’ll have to give the ball to him more than the 11 times they did in last week’s loss to the Packers.
On the Titans’ side of the ball, it would appear that they can do whatever they want. We’ve already touched on Henry, but Ryan Tannehill and Co. don’t have it much more difficult, with the Lions pass defense ranking 27th in yards allowed per game.
Green Bay on tap next
Clearly, this is the Titans’ game to lose. With a trip to Green Bay on tap for Week 16, the Titans can ill-afford to drop this matchup. Ideally, they’d like to jump out to a big early lead and keep their players fresh for next week’s tough trip to Lambeau.
And while it would be a shock for anything other than that scenario to play out, this is the NFL, and “any given Sunday” ain’t just the name of a mediocre Al Pacino pic.
On the player prop side, caution may be the name of the game. The over/under on Derrick Henry’s rushing yards is probably going to be north of 115, and while he could — and should — easily smash that number, if the Titans come out throwing in an attempt to put this game away early, Henry could conceivably not get there, especially in a blowout scenario.
All in all, the best bet — especially if Stafford sits — is probably laying the points, however uncomfortable the -10.5 spread may be.
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