Initial reports were that the injury could end Henry’s season, but the outlook appears to be a bit more optimistic.
If anyone could return at the most optimistic end of the timeline, it’s Henry. He finished Sunday’s game with 28 carries despite reportedly suffering the injury in the first half. He had only 68 yards, which broke a run of four straight 100-yard games against the Colts. But he still did his part to help the Titans secure a season sweep and assert their commanding position in the AFC South.
Since entering the NFL, Henry had played in 86 of 88 regular-season games. In 16 games last season, he racked up 378 carries on the way to finishing with 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. This season, he was on pace to top 400 carries and challenge for back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons, which has never been done. In eight games, he had 219 carries, 937 yards, and ten touchdowns, leading the NFL in each category.
With Henry on a run of five straight 100-yard games, the Titans took control of the AFC South after a Week 4 loss to the Jets dropped them to 2-2. With four straight wins, including wins over the Bills and Chiefs, they had begun to look like the AFC title contender they hoped to be entering this season.
Can the Titans continue rolling without their workhorse?
Here’s a look at how Tennessee’s schedule shakes out for the remainder of the regular season.
Remaining Regular Season Schedule for the Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams (Week 9 – November 7, NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET) vs New Orleans Saints (Week 10 – November 14, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) vs Houston Texans (Week 11 – November 21, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) at New England Patriots (Week 12 – November 28, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) Week 13 – BYE WEEK vs Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 14 – December 12, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) at Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 15 – December 19, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) vs San Francisco 49ers (Week 16 – December 23, NFL Network, 8:20 p.m. ET) vs Miami Dolphins (Week 17 – January 2, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) at Houston Texans Week 18 – January 9, CBS, 1:00 p.m. ET) Check out our NFL betting odds, betting picks, and other betting info for Sunday’s Tennessee Titans vs Los Angeles Rams at our Titans vs Rams matchup page: Tennessee Titans vs Los Angeles Rams Matchup: NFL Betting Picks, Odds, Stats and More For betting odds, betting picks, and matchup pages for every remaining game on the Tennessee Titans’ schedule and for every game on the NFL schedule in Week 9 and beyond, check out our NFL odds and NFL picks pages this week and every week. And look out for our Titans vs Rams preview and best bets later this week, along with our other previews and best bets for other notable games on the Week 9 schedule. Friendly Schedule = Cautious Optimism for Continued Success for Titans
The headline speaks for itself, but their next game is the only remaining game that stands out as a likely loss. And that’s a game that would have been a projected loss even with a healthy Henry. The Rams are 7-1 and one of the leading favorites to win the NFC title and Super Bowl LVI.
All five of the Titans’ home games are favorable matchups. The Saints just lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a season-ending ACL tear, and the 49ers, who opened the season as one of the favorites in the NFC, are just 3-4 at this point. Even if they get hot between now and Week 16, it will still be a game that the Titans will expect to win. And who knows? By that point, Henry could be back.
The other three road games that the Titans have are favorable as well. The Patriots and Steelers are tough, but both matchups are navigable, and they should handle the Texans in Week 18.
This is not to say that the Titans will go 9-0, 8-1, or even 7-2 over their last nine games, because no one is a pushover in the NFL. But the Titans have every chance to win the most games that they have since 2008, when they went 13-3. That season also saw the Titans win their last AFC South title prior to last season’s Henry-led triumph.
There is a reason why NFL futures odds still look pretty favorable for the Titans even without the league’s best running back.
2021 NFL Season Futures Odds for the Tennessee Titans Odds to Win the Super Bowl Buffalo Bills +500 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +600 Los Angeles Rams +650 Dallas Cowboys +950 Green Bay Packers +950 Baltimore Ravens +1000 Arizona Cardinals +1100 Kansas City Chiefs +1200 Tennessee Titans +2200 Odds to Win the AFC Title Buffalo Bills +220 Baltimore Ravens +460 Kansas City Chiefs +600 Tennessee Titans +850 Los Angeles Chargers +1000 Cleveland Browns +1400 Las Vegas Raiders +1600 Cincinnati Bengals +1700 Odds to Win the AFC South Tennessee Titans -1500 Indianapolis Colts +950 Houston Texans +50000 Jacksonville Jaguars +50000 Tennessee Titans NFL futures odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Henry’s Absence Opens Opportunity for Others to Shine
A number of teams would be in serious peril after losing an MVP candidate, but the Titans are in a fortunate position. Or at least as fortunate as they could be in the circumstances. Henry is not replaceable, but the Titans should still continue to have a productive offense.
A big part of that must continue to be the ground game, but look around the NFL. You don’t need a star running back to have success at that position.
The Titans signed Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman, the latter of whom ran for 95 yards on 22 carries in six games with the Titans last season. It remains to be seen if or how much that duo will be able to contribute Sunday, however. But Foreman’s familiarity with the team is helpful in this situation, and Peterson should be eager to make the most of an unexpected opportunity to be a lead back again. He’s certainly not going to be prime Peterson, but he doesn’t need to be.
Jeremy McNichols should also have an expanded role in the offense this week and beyond. McNichols has contributed more as a receiver (21 catches, 203 yards, one touchdown) than he has as a rusher (seven carries, 38 yards) so far this season. But he had 47 carries in 16 games last season and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, which is what Henry was averaging this season.
While that trio can’t come close to replicating Henry’s impact, they should be productive enough to ensure teams don’t fully focus on forcing the Titans to win games through the air.
Brown’s Timely Breakout Brings Renewed Optimism in Aerial Attack
Speaking of the passing game, that area
Ryan Tannehill isn’t in the upper echelon of NFL starting quarterbacks, but he does what he is supposed to do well. He already has as many interceptions (seven) as he did all of last season, but after throwing 106 touchdown passes and 66 interceptions in 77 games in his first five seasons, he has 82 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in 47 games since.
Julio Jones hasn’t had the expected impact and is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, but A.J. Brown has broken out over the last three games after catching only ten passes (out of 25 targets) for 130 yards and one touchdown in his first four games this season. Over his last three games, Brown has 25 catches (on 29 targets) for 379 yards and two touchdowns. Against the Colts, he had 10 catches for 155 yards and a score.
Assessing an Optimistic Outlook for the Titans
There are certainly questions to answer. There’s the obvious one about what kind of production Henry’s replacements will be able to generate. Also, it would help for someone to step up in the passing game alongside Brown, whether it’s Jones when he returns, McNichols in an expanded role, or someone else.
More importantly, the defense must bend less. Sunday was the fifth time in eight games that the Titans have allowed at least 27 points. If anything, that is their biggest obstacle to significant success, not the loss of Henry. But there is potential there, as shown by their decimation of the Chiefs. Also, with all of the best offenses on their schedule in the rearview mirror after Week 9, we should see things steady on that side of the ball.
If the Titans can answer the answerable questions that lie in front of them, there’s still a lot to like about this team. Having a three-game lead and the tiebreaker already secured in the AFC South takes a lot of pressure off of the Titans from here. Their schedule doesn’t hurt either.
In the short term, there should be some good betting opportunities. Use caution until there is a better idea about how things are going to shake out on offense, but odds are going to adjust with Henry out, and there will be spots where that can be taken advantage of.
In the long term, Henry’s potential return for the end of the regular season and NFL playoffs is huge, especially with the AFC no longer looking like the Chiefs vs their chasers. If you have already bought into the Titans, don’t give up on your futures just yet. And if you haven’t bought in yet, now might be the best time to do so.