Let’s all take a moment to give Derrick Henry a round of applause. Henry has had a much maligned 2018 regular season. He came in with lofty, but divided expectations about what to expect from him. Throughout his career, Henry has shown flashes of being nothing more than a two to three yard plodder. He has also shown flashes of being a gashing, punishing, franchise running back. Henry has been under much scrutiny this season, and deservedly so. Football fans, analysts, and Titans fans alike have been frustrated with Henry’s inefficiencies. The noise around him has been deafening. Yet he stuck with the grind and it paid dividends with his explosion against the Jaguars last Thursday. Bravo Henry!
On the opposite sideline is a back that had sky-high expectations for his play and he has still, somehow, exceeded all expectations. Saquon Barkley has been tabbed as the best running back prospect there’s ever been. He’s heard he was the next Barry Sanders for years and yet he has never let that get to his head. Instead, he kept his head down and his nose to the grindstone. Barkley has been nothing short of extraordinary this season and has his sights set to a showdown against the Titans this Sunday.
Barkley vs The Titans
The Titans defense shut down a Jaguars ground attack spearheaded by Leonard Fournette that appeared to have thrown in the towel on the season. Fournette averaged a meager 2.6 yards per carry (YPC) against a struggling Titans run defense. On the season the Titans have allowed 4.4 YPC to opposing running backs. Barkley is much more than a gashing running back with a silky smooth, crisp cut. He is a fantastic pass catching back that has averaged 8.1 yards per reception (YPR) and 5.4 YPC. The Titans allow 6.2 yard YPR.
Barkley is due for a big day against the Titans. Hopefully, last week’s inspired play against Fournette will rally the Titans to put forth a respectable effort at containing Barkley.
Henry vs The Giants
Henry has likely earned the lions share of the teams carries this week against the Giants. On the season, Henry averages 4.9 YPC while his fellow backfield mate Dion Lewis averages 3.3 YPC. The last four weeks, Henry has been the more efficient running back for the Titans. Henry has demonstrated improved vision, cutting, and footwork. Pair that with his massive frame and great top speed, and Henry is primed for a breakout.
Last week vs the Jaguars looked like the beginning of the Henry show. This week against the Giants 22nd ranked rush defense looks to be the next step. Henry is still game script dependent, due to Lewis’ superior pass catching ability. It will be up to the Titans defense to keep the score close and Henry a significant part of the game plan.
With a wildcard birth on the line for the Titans, I expect both sides to come out focused and motivated. Henry will prove he belongs on the same field as Barkley. Titans come out and win this game 28-18. Titan Up!