Derrick Henry has run all over the KC Chiefs in their last three meetings. If the Chiefs defense can stop him this Sunday, their chances of reaching the Super Bowl drastically improve.
*EDITOR’S NOTE – Cameron Black, the staff member who wrote this, is blind, but has a great feel for the game, even without his vision. This article was written with the help of a screen reader.*
It is no secret that the Titans’ greatest strength is the Kansas City Chiefs‘ greatest weakness, and I don’t think I am letting some big cat out of the bag by saying so.
For as much as the Chiefs defense has improved, they still seem to struggle against the run. This would not be a game changer in itself, if not for the fact that the Titans are a ground pound type of team, and they accomplish this with that runaway freight train named Derrick Henry.
Henry has rushed for nearly 200 yards in both his playoff appearances and 211 yards in the Titans’ final game of the regular season against the Texans. In the Titans’ last meeting with the Chiefs, Henry rushed for 188 yards.
If the Chiefs are going to defeat the Titans on Sunday and break not only the Titans curse, but the curse that has hovered over the Chiefs postseasons for generations, then they absolutely must bottle up Derrick Henry or at least slow him down.
In the Chiefs’ regular season game against the Titans in week ten, the defense was finally beginning to find its feet, but still allowed Henry to run roughshod over them for nearly 200 yards. The funny thing is, even with that monster performance by Henry, it still took a late fourth quarter collapse for the Chiefs to lose that game. Something tells me that isn’t happening this time.
Stopping Henry is important, but perhaps not paramount. Between Frank Clark, who has come full circle and is now a force of nature, and a healthy Chris Jones (which the Chiefs did have the last time they faced the Titans) if the Chiefs can at least slow him down and limit him even somewhat, their chances of victory drastically improve.
Expect to see a big performance from the Chiefs defensive line, bursting into the backfield and hopefully shuvving Henry back before he can even get both legs going. If Henry breaks into the line backing core, trusting Anthony Hitchens or Damien Wilson to bring him down would be tough to do. Henry is just a tough dude to tackle and bring down, the damage must be done up front and he must be stopped in his tracks.
Don’t expect the Chiefs to completely neutralize Henry to where he is a non-factor. If, however, the Chiefs can at least serve to put up a couple of speed bumps and slow him down a bit, maybe even just hold him to 100 yards or less, then the Chiefs’ chances to emerge victorious will sky rocket.
The Chiefs run defense is not great, but we have seen it improve throughout the season. Against the Texans last Sunday, Carlos Hyde was held to a mere 44 yards, whereas when the Chiefs faced the Texans during week six he gashed the Chiefs for 116 yards. It is worth noting, however, that the Chiefs were ahead by quite a bit in the second half, making it more difficult for Hyde to make an impact.
In the Chiefs’ last regular season game against the Chargers, Melvin Gordon was held to 46 yards. Now, it is true that neither one of these players is Derrick Henry, but it shows deffinit improvement by the Chiefs D in stuffing the run.
If the production of the running game is slowed down at least somewhat, this forces the Titans to take it to the air, which while Ryan Tannahill is a skilled quarterback, the passing game is not their strength. Even though the Titans beat the Ravens 28-12, Tannahill only had seven completions of 14 attempts for 88 yards.
If the Chiefs manage to corral Henry, then Clark, Jones, and company will be able to turn Tannehill into an all-day sucker, forcing him to pass. That opens him up for one of the greatest strengths of this Chiefs defense – which is making a passing quarterback very uncomfortable – along with takeaways.
The deck is stacked in the KC Chiefs’ favor; To reach the ultimate goal, to reach the pinnacle that this team has not reached in 50 years. On Sunday afternoon, Derrick Henry and the Titans will roll into Arrowhead, but they will be facing a Chiefs team that has been denied for far too long; a Chiefs team with an offensive guru at head coach and a phenomenal young quarterback taking the snaps with an arsenal of weapons to spread the ball to.
They will face a Chiefs team who absolutely will not stop, will not quit and will continue to find new ways to win, whether that is by an offense fireworks show, or a grueling win where they must grind for every inch of field.
This time, they’ll stop Derrick Henry just enough and make it to the sport’s biggest stage.