There is one big story affecting NFL betting lines more than any other this week. The Tennessee Titans will play the rest of this season without Derrick Henry. The devastating loss of the NFL’s leading rusher could change the fortunes for the Titans.
With a visit to Los Angeles Sunday night, the Titans need to regroup in a hurry. Read about the team’s scoring potential now without their star running back.
Replacing Derrick Henry
Since we’re already in Week 9, finding an able replacement for Henry is a daunting task. So instead of going the trade route, the Tennessee Titans called on Adrian Peterson. The 36-year-old star hasn’t suited up since last season in Detroit, so he’ll need to get ready for his Titans debut quickly.
Peterson is 5th on the list of all-time rushers, so his talent is not in question. But at 36, one has to wonder how long he can last. For now, any production the Titans can get out of the veteran will be a bonus.
Despite whether Peterson is ready for Titans vs. Rams, Mike Vrabel does have other options. Sixth-year player Jeremy McNichols will get a sudden increase in touches Sunday night.
In limited use so far, McNichols has been productive, with a 5.4-yard rushing average. But at 5′ 9″, durability could be a factor. On the plus side, Jeremy has shown some flash catching 21 balls out of the backfield.
Yet Derrick Henry was carrying almost 30 times each game until he went down. With nearly 300 yards more than any rusher in the NFL, Henry was on pace for a huge year. The Titans can’t expect to replace all that production on the ground.
The Passing Game
The role of Ryan Tannehill and his receivers has changed dramatically with the loss of Henry. In part, it’s because Derrick set up the passing game with his running. So, will the Tennessee Titans have to open up the playbook against the Rams in Week 9?
With so much attention on Derrick Henry, it’s easy to forget that Tannehill has a 90.2 QB rating. He’s passed for over 2,000 yards and ten touchdowns. A.J. Brown has been the go-to receiver because of injuries to Julio Jones.
The most intriguing stat about Ryan Tannehill is his play on the road. His passer rating goes to 94.3 during away games with only two interceptions.
The Tennessee Titans needed overtime to beat division rival Indianapolis Colts last week. Yet during that game, Derrick Henry rushed 28 times for 68 yards. And after spotting the Colts 14 points in the first quarter, Tannehill went to A.J. Brown for the comeback.
This team also knows how to get up for bigger opponents. Note that the Titans won their last three games against playoff contenders. So even without Henry, the Titans will use all their weapons against the Rams.
Tennessee Titans vs. Rams (-7.5)
It’s a tall order to expect the Tennessee Titans to replace 937 yards of offense production from Derrick Henry. Yet with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, and a committee of running backs, anything’s possible. If there’s any chance of Henry returning this season, the Titans are still AFC contenders.
So the Titans might not get their fifth win in a row, but I’m betting on them to cover the 7.5 spread.
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