NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans (6-2) will be featured on Sunday Night Football this weekend, traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Rams (7-1). Derrick Henry’s absence due to injury will, of course, be the overarching narrative.
Now, Tennessee will find out what life is like without the King.
Stringing four consecutive conference wins together has been massive for the Titans. Burying the Indianapolis Colts on Halloween for a 3-0 AFC South record gives them all the postseason cushion they might need. Beating Los Angeles seems like a tall task, and is not a necessity for the purposes of tie-breakers. The Rams have beaten both the Indianapolis and the Houston Texans. Los Angeles will host the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 5.
A win for the Titans would mean a 99% chance of making the 2021 postseason, per the New York Times’ playoff predictor. Losing to the Rams would drop that figure only one percentage point.
Tennessee may not have their lives on the line on Sunday night, but as the saying goes, you play to win the game.
The Rams defense will play Tennessee differently than any team has in the last three years
Losing Henry sucks for all parties involved, but it does not nuke the Titans season.
It does, however, mean that Los Angeles and every other defense until Henry returns will play Tennessee much differently.
“We are eight games in,” coach Mike Vrabel said on Wednesday. “So we are always going to have to continue to evaluate what we are doing in all three phases and making sure that things stay fresh, but also be able to do what we believe is a foundation for us and our players understand.”
We know that the Titans will not make wholesale changes without Henry. We also know that Tennessee’s offensive philosophy regarding running the football is not going to change. Too much of coordinator Todd Downing’s attack is predicated off the threat of the run, from play-action passing to quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s ability to make plays with his legs.
The larger question: will their play-calling tendencies adjust at all with their new backfield as presently constructed.
On this week’s episode of The Install, Greg Cosell of NFL Films takes you through the strengths and weaknesses of the Titans against Los Angeles. Tennessee is currently a 7-point road underdog, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
Titans vs Rams on The Install
The Rams are an incredibly impressive team made more deadly with this year’s addition of quarterback Matt Stafford.
Through eight games, Stafford has a 118.0 QB rating. It ranks as the eighth-best start to an NFL season through eight games since 1970. Los Angeles’ defense is nothing to shrug at, as well. The Rams acquired star edge rusher Von Miller on Monday to play alongside Aaron Donald and in front of Jalen Ramsey.
Their defense is built to play with a lead. Stafford and company have been inclined to oblige.
Los Angeles opened up the 2021 season by never trailing to the Chicago Bears in Week 1. Per Rams PR, they held a lead for 55:10 of the 60:00 minutes. In Week 3 they once again never trailed, this time against Tampa Bay. During Week 8 they jumped out to a 38-0 lead over Houston without ever trailing. The Los Angeles Rams have had 25 games since the start of the 2017 where they never trailed their opponents, including three in 2021.
Each week we analyze trends that are taking place with Tennessee’s season, break down that upcoming week’s opponent and look ahead to the biggest games across the sport. You can find the Install with Greg Cosell on Spotify, Google Play and Apple Podcasts as a part of the 104.5 The Zone podcast network.
You can also hear my radio show on the Zone from 10 am – 1 pm CT Monday through Friday. Each week features insights and in-depth conversations of the Titans, the Tennessee Vols, the NFL, the SEC and local Nashville sports with players, coaches and media members.
Enjoy the Week 8 edition of The Install in your favorite podcast app.