Six Things to Watch in Titans at Rams on Sunday Night


NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Here's a look at six things to watch in the contest:

Adrian Peterson and Others

During the first eight games of the season, running back Derrick Henry was featured as one of the six things to watch each week. Well, after Henry went on Injured Reserve this week, the Titans now have to find a way to keep the running game going without him. The Titans signed future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson this week, and he'll be part of the solution on Sunday. Peterson, decked out in No.8, practiced all week and he'll suit up for the sixth team in his career. Jeremy McNichols will also continue to be a factor, as a runner and pass catcher. Like Peterson, the Titans also added running back D'Onta Foreman this week, and he'll be in the mix as well. The distribution of carries and snaps will be interesting to see.

Julio and A.J.

The Titans haven't had their WR tandem together often this season, but it looks like they'll be reunited on the field on a Sunday once again. A.J. Brown has been on quite a roll of late – he had 10 catches for a career-high 155 yards last week, and he'll look for his 3rd straight game with 8-plus catches, 125-plus receiving yards and a receiving TD. Julio Jones, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, has 17 catches for 275 yards (137.5 per game) and a receiving TD in two career games vs the Rams. He has 125-plus receiving yards in four of his past games vs NFC opponents. Jones hasn't made a big impact for the Titans this season, but this would be a nice place to get jumpstarted for the second half of the season.

Spotlight on Tannehill

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets a bad rap nationally from those who don't watch him on a regular basis. Tannehill isn't perfect, and this year he's already thrown too many interceptions (7). But he's been more than a game-manager during his time in Tennessee. On Sunday night, Tannehill has a chance to show his skeptics what he's capable of without Henry in the backfield. In eight games this season, Tannehill has thrown for 2,002 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also made some nice contributions with his legs. With some new faces around him – and signs pointing to Julio's return – Tannehill would love to keep the train moving on offense.

Protect the QB

We're going to get to the Titans defense, because they'll face a huge challenge vs the Rams. But Tennessee's offensive line has a big assignment as well. Already I've mentioned Tannehill, the receivers and running backs in here. Well, in order to make things work on offense the Titans are going to have to find a way to deal with a Rams defense that's talented, and dangerous, especially up front. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald has 5.5 sacks on the season, behind OLB Leonard Floyd's team-high 6.5 sacks. This week, the Rams traded for former Broncos edge rusher Von Miller, who is a force himself. Throw those guys in a defense that also includes one of the game's top cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey, and the Titans have their work cut out for them up front, and in trying to separate.

Slow Down the Rams, and the Explosive Plays

The Rams are averaging 30.6 yards per game, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford's 2,477 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. Receiver Cooper Kupp already has 924 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 63 catches, and receiver Robert Woods (38-458-4) is a dynamic playmaker as well. The Rams also have a pair of talented running backs in Darrell Henderson (110-507-5) and Sony Michel (65-251), and the backs are dangerous out of the backfield as well. It's no surprise the Rams are ranked fifth in the NFL in total offense, and in points per game. The Titans need to hold the Rams to field goals as many times as possible.

Generate a Pass Rush

The Titans have faced some athletic and elusive quarterbacks this season, which makes getting them to the ground more challenging. The Titans know where Stafford will be, because he doesn't move around a lot. But that doesn't mean he's easy to get on the ground – he's been sacked just seven times this season, because he gets the ball out. Harold Landry has been a consistent force for the Titans this season, with 8.5 sacks in eight games. Bud Dupree has flashed more of late, too. The Titans might not be able to rack up a lot of sacks on Sunday night, but providing a push inside and a burst outside would go a long way in forcing Stafford to get rid of the ball before his receivers have a chance to break free for explosive plays.

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