The Tennessee Titans still lead the AFC South despite two straight losses.
However, their current path does not paint a positive picture.
They’ve scored only 13 points in both defeats, and Ryan Tannehill had contrasting outputs in those games.
He threw for 323 yards against the Houston Texans and still lost.
The @Titans now have used 86 total players this season, the most of any team in the NFL in any season since at least 1993.
Since 1993, the previous record number of participants in a season was 84 by the 2019 Dolphins and the 2020 49ers.
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 29, 2021
Likewise, Tannehill finished with only 93 passing yards against the New England Patriots.
They are lucky that the Indianapolis Colts tasted defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Otherwise, their division lead would be down to one game, and the momentum would be on Indianapolis’ side.
But despite having more cushion between them and their rivals, the Titans might unravel during the home stretch for the following reasons.
3. Their Top Receivers Remain Sidelined
But the Titans look limited without their primary wideouts.
Brown played during their loss against the Texans and finished with five receptions for 48 yards.
Unfortunately, he suffered a chest injury, forcing the team to place him on injured reserve.
#Titans WR AJ Brown, who left yesterday’s game early with a chest injury had negative X-Rays on his ribs, source said. He’ll have more tests today and those can sometimes show more damage. But promising early returns.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 22, 2021
As a consolation, his condition is not season-ending, and he will return by December.
However, there’s no definite time by which he will take the field again.
Before this injury, Brown dealt with knee and hamstring issues earlier in the season.
On the other hand, Jones is also on IR due to hamstring concerns.
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) November 27, 2021
He last played against the Los Angeles Rams and might return against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 12.
Having both players back will unlock more targets for Tannehill.
Without them, the Titans might find it hard to keep the chains moving.
During their absence, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine served as the Titans’ top receiver.
After review, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is in! #Titans
— NFL (@NFL) November 28, 2021
The second-year player from Indiana had 107 yards on seven catches versus Houston.
However, his production dropped to 25 yards against the Patriots.
2. Their Defense Is Regressing Once More
There were concerns regarding the Titans defense earlier in the season.
Their secondary couldn’t stop long gains while their defensive front did not generate enough pressure to rattle the opposing quarterback.
But the Titans proved their doubters wrong by unleashing their might against the Rams and the New Orleans Saints.
Sportsbooks favored the Rams to claim victory over Tennessee, but Mike Vrabel‘s crew refused to bow down.
The #Titans defense has quit.
— TicTacTitans (@TicTacTitans) November 28, 2021
Jeffery Simmons anchored their pass rush, collecting three of their five sacks.
Against the Saints, Tennessee’s left defensive end finished with two sacks.
Unfortunately, they regressed against the Texans and the Patriots, finishing with two sacks and zero interceptions for both games.
Neither Harold Landry or Jeffery Simmons managed a single pressure of Mac Jones today (each with 19+ pass rushes, per @NextGenStats). For an OL that couldn't protect Mac in the first 6 weeks of the season, that's about as impressive as it gets. That duo had been dynamic.
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) November 29, 2021
Worst, Tannehill threw four interceptions against the Texans, one of the worst pass defense teams in the league.
The Titans defense must come to their senses and rise again because their offense won’t score a ton of points.
Therefore, limiting their opponents is their best chance to win constantly.
1. Derrick Henry’s Absence Is Massive
The reigning Offensive Player of the Year was the heart and soul of the Titans offense.
Around 75 percent of their plays went through him, and defenders didn’t want the nightmare that comes with tackling him.
With Derrick Henry sidelined by injury, they are trying their best to compensate for his loss.
Sadly, using a committee of running backs isn’t enough to replicate his production.
— SportzStew Ⓥ (@sportzstewcom) November 24, 2021
Adrian Peterson had his day, but he made the Titans miss Henry more.
This concern offers no answers because it’s hard to replace Henry’s size and speed.
Their best hope is for him to return in time for the playoffs if they end up winning the division.
The defensive players on the team they’re facing in the postseason must recite their prayers already.