BRONCOS

Three numbers to know for Broncos-Titans

Nov 12, 2022, 6:53 PM
Derrick Henry...
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Offensive production is down across the league this year. This means more games are won at the margins. And it also means that old, tried-and-true maxims about rushing the football and protecting it that seemed passe matter a little more often than they did in recent years.

Which brings us to Sunday’s game between the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans. The two starting quarterbacks have averaged exactly 1 touchdown pass per game this season. Both have missed time because of recent lower-body injuries. And both Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill should be in action, with doubt about Tannehill’s status fading away in the three days leading up to kickoff at Nissan Stadium.

When you watch, bear these numbers in mind. Because since Mike Vrabel became Tennessee’s coach in 2018, the Titans have a basic, old-school formula to win. The Broncos’ chances for success likely rest upon disrupting it.

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47

You want to find a way to run on 47 percent of your snaps. Of course, game flow has something to do with this. But in Vrabel’s four-and-a-half seasons as Titans coach, teams are 15-4 against them when they reach that percentage of runs at Tennessee’s expense.

Rushing yards are difficult to accumulate against the Titans. This season, they rank second in the league in run defense, allowing just 87.6 yards on the ground per game.

Tennessee’s injuries — including three starters of their front seven out — give the Broncos a chance to sustain a ground game, if they can be patient.

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20-2

That is Tennessee’s record when Derrick Henry rushes for at least 6.0 yards per carry. Conversely, the Titans are 4-13 when he averages under 3.0 yards per carry and 37-25 for all of the games in between during his career. And the Broncos’ last two opponents — the Jets and Jaguars — averaged 6.5 and 6.0 yards per carry, respectively.

Much of the damage came on explosive runs — a 62-yarder for New York’s Breece Hall in Week 7 and a 49-yard gallop by Travis Etienne Jr. in Week 8. But even without Etienne’s sprint, the Jaguars still averaged 4.6 yards per attempt on all other rushes.

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94.0

The passer rating that often separates success from failure for the Titans. In the Vrabel era, Tennessee is 11-24 when its quarterback — or quarterbacks — finish with a rating of below 94.0. Above 94.0, the Titans’ record is 37-6, including wins in 15 of their last 16 games with a passer rating above that mark.

Of course, Tannehill will have to cope with the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense. Denver allows just 165.8 yards per game through the air. Meanwhile, the Titans had the 30th-ranked passing offense in the league at the time of Tannehill’s ankle injury. Since then, Tennessee dropped to 31st.

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OTHER NUMBERS OF NOTE:

  • 1-12: Tennessee’s record under Vrabel when the opponent forces at least 3 turnovers at their expense.
  • 12: Number of first-teamers expected to miss Sunday’s game for the Broncos with various injuries.
  • 25: Man-games lost by the Broncos to hamstring injuries alone, factoring in this week’s absences of FB/TE Andrew Beck and WR K.J. Hamler.

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