Derrick Henry vs. Pittsburgh’s protection

Titans working again Derrick Henry enters Sunday’s AFC showdown in opposition to the Steelers in Nashville because the reigning AFC Offensive Participant of the Week for Week 6.

If Henry stays on this tempo, he’ll be in line for a way more prestigious honor by season’s finish: NFL MVP.

For Week 7, although, Henry and the Titans in opposition to the Steelers represents The Put up’s Large Recreation this week based mostly largely on the matchup between Henry, who leads the NFL in speeding with 588 yards, and the Steelers’ protection, which is second within the league defending the run, permitting a median of simply 66.2 per recreation.

The Titans and Steelers are each 5-0, which marks the sixth time within the Tremendous Bowl period that two undefeated groups can have performed in Week 7 or later. Within the earlier 5 conferences, the winner went on to the Tremendous Bowl with New England (2004) and Denver (2015) successful the title. The Patriots gained two of these video games in 2007 and Minnesota gained in 1973 earlier than dropping the Tremendous Bowl.

The Titans are undefeated by way of 5 video games for the second time in franchise historical past and for the primary time since they went 10-0 to start the 2008 season. The Steelers are 5-0 for the primary time since 1978, once they went on to win the Tremendous Bowl.

The Steelers' defense gave Baker Mayfield fits, but they'll face a bigger test against Derrick Henry and the Titans.
The Steelers’ protection gave Baker Mayfield matches, however they’ll face an even bigger take a look at in opposition to Derrick Henry and the Titans.Getty Pictures (2)

This recreation was initially scheduled for Oct. 4 however was postponed due to the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak. The rescheduling by the NFL required each groups to take their bye instantly in Week 4, the Steelers’ recreation in opposition to the Ravens was moved from this week to subsequent week, and the Ravens’ bye was moved as much as this week.

The Steelers’ concentrate on Sunday is squarely on the Titans’ 6-foot-3, 250-pound again who kilos like a fullback however has the velocity of a sprinter. Henry is coming off a 212-yard speeding efficiency final Sunday in opposition to the Texans. The spotlight of that recreation was his 94-yard scoring run within the fourth quarter, his eighth profession landing of a minimum of 65 yards.

Henry grew to become the primary again in NFL historical past to hurry for greater than 200 yards in a recreation in three consecutive seasons. Since Week 14 of the 2018 season, Henry has rushed for greater than 170 yards in seven of 28 video games, together with two playoff video games final season. Courting to 2018, he has seven rushes of fifty yards or longer (second in NFL).

“It’s actually astounding {that a} again his measurement is able to going to the home nearly each time he touches it,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin instructed reporters this week. “Over the course of the final 10 or 12 video games, relationship again to final yr, this man has a spotlight reel of huge runs not like which I’ve by no means seen over that sort of a time span.”

The Pittsburgh run protection ought to present a stout problem for Henry. The Steelers held Giants working again Saquon Barkley to 6 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, and final week they restricted the Browns to 113 yards fewer than their league-leading speeding common. The Steelers even have produced 42 tackles for losses, most within the NFL.

The Titans gained’t be helped by the very fact they misplaced beginning left deal with and high offensive lineman Taylor Lewan for the season with a knee harm final week.

The Steelers additionally suffered a key harm final week when linebacker Devin Bush went down with a knee harm.

Search for the Steelers to run-blitz the Titans, which is of one in all its strengths and tendencies on protection. Pittsburgh clearly goes to attempt to make Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill beat them, relatively than Henry.

“They’re extraordinarily well-coached and gifted,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel instructed reporters this week. “It’s been powerful for folks to run the soccer on them.’’

That’s what makes this a basic matchup of power on power.

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