Continuing our series of offseason breakdowns following the 2021 schedule release, theRams.com examines the Rams' Week 9 Sunday Night Football home opponent, the Tennessee Titans (SoFi Stadium, Nov. 7, 5:20 p.m. PT, NBC – TICKETS | SUITES).
The Titans got off to a 5-0 start, and while that win streak was snapped with consecutive losses, they would never lose back-to-back games the rest of the regular season. That success culminated with a Week 17 victory over the Texans to win the AFC South and clinch the No. 4 seed in the conference playoff picture.
Along the way, running back Derrick Henry claimed the NFL's rushing title with 2,027 yards on the ground and tallied a league-high 17 rushing touchdowns. Despite those incredible performances during the regular season, though, he was contained in the postseason, managing just 40 yards on 18 carries in a 20-13 Titans loss to the Ravens in the wild card round of the playoffs. Still, the body of work was enough to earn him AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year for the 2020 season.
Most of the offseason so far has focused on overhauling a defense that allowed the fifth-most total yards of offense per game (398.3) in the NFL last season.
Tennessee released safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson prior to the start of free agency. After free agency began, they signed former Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (2-year deal), former Browns cornerback Kevin Johnson (1-year deal) and former Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (5-year deal), former Colts defensive end Denico Autry (3-year deal) and former Jets safety Matthias Farley (1-year deal).
On offense, the Titans signed former Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds to a one-year deal after letting Corey Davis walk.
In the draft, they used their first-round pick (No. 22 overall) on former Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley. Overall, they used five of their seven selections on defense.
Mike Vrabel enters his fourth season as head coach of the Titans, compiling a 29-19 regular season regular through his first three years with the franchise. Tennessee has reached the playoffs twice under Vrabel, including a run to the AFC Championship game in the first appearance (2019 season).
What to watch for
Rams run defense vs. Derrick Henry
The individual matchup of Henry vs. Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was already covered in the top six games, so in this piece the focus will be on Los Angeles' run defense.
Attempting to contain the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry could end up being the best test of the season for L.A.'s run defense, and that's with a schedule that includes the Colts' Jonathan Taylor and the Giants' Saquon Barkley before facing Henry, and the Packers' Aaron Jones and the Vikings' Dalvin Cook after. Henry had 10 games of 100-plus rushing yards last year, including three games of 200-plus; the Rams didn't allow a single 100-yard rusher last year on their way to the NFL's No. 2 run defense.
There will be plenty of opportunities to see how that unit measures up as the Rams chase a Super Bowl this season, but a Week 9 primetime game against the defending rushing champion is positioned to be the most informative.
With the 2021 NFL Schedule released, take a look at when and where the Los Angeles Rams will play during each week of the 2021 season.