Titans, Chargers face off with AFC playoff implications

December 17, 2022 GMT
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Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs with the ball as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs with the ball as Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)


Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS


AGAINST THE SPREAD: Titans 8-5; Chargers 8-5.

SERIES RECORD: Chargers lead 28-18-1.

LAST MEETING: Titans beat Chargers 23-20 on Oct. 20, 2019, in Nashville.

LAST WEEK: Titans lost to Jaguars 36-22; Chargers beat Dolphins 23-17.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Titans minus-2 (18T); Chargers plus-4 (7).

TITANS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Treylon Burks missed last week’s loss in concussion protocol, and his return would provide a much-needed counterpoint to RB Derrick Henry. The rookie from Arkansas was coming off his best three-game stretch, posting the first 100-yard receiving game of his career and then recovering a fumble in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown. Burks caught his first career TD pass in a loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 4 and got knocked out by a defender without losing the ball.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Mike Williams had six receptions for 116 yards and one touchdown against Miami in his return from an ankle injury that kept him out for the previous two games. That included a 55-yard grab, Williams’ 11th play of 40 or more yards over the past two seasons. His big-play ability opens up space for Keenan Allen and the rest of the receiving group.

KEY MATCHUP: Henry against the Chargers’ run defense. Henry had his best rushing game since Nov. 6 by halftime of last week’s loss and finished with 121 yards. Now the two-time NFL rushing leader will go against a run defense giving up 147 yards rushing per game. Los Angeles actually fared well against Miami, limiting the Dolphins to 92 yards on 19 carries, but some of that was dictated by game flow and a massive time of possession advantage in favor of the Chargers.

KEY INJURIES: Titans DL Denico Autry, who leads the team in sacks, will miss his fourth straight game. Titans starting CB Kristian Fulton (groin), S Amani Hooker (knee) and rookie CB Tre Avery (concussion) have also been declared out. Tennessee will also be without WR Treylon Burks (concussion), RB Dontrell Hilliard (neck) and WR C.J. Board (rib). ... Chargers S Derwin James Jr. (quad) is expected to miss his second straight game after not practicing all week. CB Bryce Callahan (groin), DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (knee) and RT Trey Pipkins III (knee) are questionable. TE Donald Parham Jr., limited to two games this season because of a hamstring injury and concussion, is on track to play this week.

SERIES NOTES: This is the first time these teams have met in Los Angeles since the then-Houston Oilers visited in 1960 in their first season in the original AFL. ... The previous time these teams met was Titans QB Ryan Tannehill’s first start in replacing Marcus Mariota. That also was the NFL debut for 2021 Pro Bowl DL Jeffery Simmons. The Titans are 37-19 since that week, the fifth-best record in the NFL. ... The Chargers won nine straight in the series between 1993-2021, but have split their past four games with the Titans.

STATS AND STUFF: The Titans have a two-game lead in the AFC South with four games remaining trying to earn a third straight division title. ... The Titans are trying to snap a three-game skid, their first since Weeks 5-7 in coach Mike Vrabel’s debut season in 2018. ... Henry has six 100-yard rushing games this season, tied for most in the NFL with Nick Chubb of Cleveland and Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs. Henry ranks second with 1,199 yards rushing. ... The Titans have won four straight and are 4-1 under Vrabel in games played in the Mountain or Pacific time zones. ... A win Sunday would give the Titans a fourth straight season with at least five road victories, which would be the longest streak in franchise history (1978-1980 and 1998-2000). ... Rookies have played 105 games this season for Tennessee, fourth most in the NFL. ... Chargers QB Justin Herbert continues to pile up the records. He needs 22 completions to top Matthew Stafford (1,239) for most through 50 games, 294 yards to make Herbert the first with three 4,000-yard passing seasons, and three touchdowns to pass Dan Marino (100) for most combined touchdowns through three seasons. ... After years of struggles in the kicking game, Los Angeles has been outstanding this season, making 25 of 27 field goals (92.6%) and all 30 extra-point attempts. ... RB Austin Ekeler leads the league with 746 yards after the catch, which puts into context the 623 yards he has gained on 93 receptions this season. ... Although he fell down on Tyreek Hill’s 60-yard touchdown catch, CB Michael Davis had at least two passes defended for the third straight game. ... The Chargers were 9 of 18 on third down against the Dolphins, their fourth game converting at least 50%. ... Herbert has not thrown an interception in his past three games following a run of five straight starts with a pick.

FANTASY TIP: Anyone that held onto Allen when he was sidelined by a hamstring injury has been rewarded the past two weeks. Now healthy, Allen has been targeted 14 times in each of those games, making 18 receptions for 180 yards and one touchdown. Such steady volume of looks should continue, making Allen a difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs.


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