NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans may be getting a big boost for Saturday's playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the form of a Derrick Henry return.
Henry, the NFL's leading rusher in 2019 and 2020, was placed on injured reserve Nov. 1 because of a fractured foot he suffered in the team's 34-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite missing eight games, Henry has 937 rushing yards on the year, which ranks sixth among all running backs this season. He led the NFL in rushing when he got injured.
The Titans were still able to go 6-3 without Henry and claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but his return will certainly be a massive addition for a team trying to make it to their first Super Bowl since 2000 (1999 season).
On Thursday's Locked On Today podcast, Tyler Rowland of the Locked On Titans podcast joined Peter Bukowski to analyze just how much Henry's impending return could affect Saturday's game against the Bengals.
SUBSCRIBE: The Locked On Today podcast hosted by Peter Bukowski gets you caught up every morning on the biggest stories in sports without taking up your free time.
"All indications are that Derrick Henry is looking healthy and he's ready to go," Rowland said on Locked On Today. "They're trying to do things to get him back into contact mode in practice...With what he's been doing in practice, I don't think there's any reason to doubt that Derrick Henry will be out there with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday."
While Henry obviously impacts the game tremendously as the NFL's best running back, Rowland said he actually affects the way the Titans' entire offense operates, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"When facing an 8-man boxes with eight-plus defenders, with Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill has a 91.1 Pro Football Focus passing grade and 9.8 yards per attempt...Without Derrick Henry against stacked boxes, Tannehill's efficiency drops dramatically. He goes to 7.3 yards per attempt and he goes from a 91.1 grade to a 76.6," Rowland said.
"When you look at the numbers behind it, it becomes even more clear how important he is," Rowland continued.
SUBSCRIBE to the Locked On Titans podcast, your daily podcast covering all things Tennessee Titans. Free and available on all platforms.
Meanwhile, the Titans are going to have their hands full with the explosiveness of Ja'Marr Chase and one of the best receiving trios in football. How will their defense fare against this type of offense?
"I think the only way to stop that explosive offense for the Bengals is to get Joe Burrow on the ground and not let him get those deep balls to those receivers," Rowland said. "Jeffrey Simmons is the foundation of which the Titans defense is built upon. Everything revolves around him. If he can beat double teams and win one-on-ones throughout the game, the Titans are going to have a good chance to get Burrow on the ground."
Catch all of Rowland's Titans-Bengals preview coverage on Locked On Titans on YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.
SUBSCRIBE to the Locked On NFL podcast, a daily podcast covering league-wide news, rumors and more. Free and available on all platforms