The Titans have taken their standard game plan under head coach Mike Vrabel to new levels with the play of their defensive line and linebacker corps, ranking first in the league in defensive rush DVOA, first in defensive adjusted line yards, and fifth in yards allowed per running back carry this season. That said, a dead-last overall pace of play and 29th-ranked net drive success rate combine to have the Titans ranked just 19th in average time of possession after finishing second to the Packers last season. Furthermore, the team has averaged only 56.8 plays per game, the second-fewest to only the Panthers. Basically, this team wants to crack down on the run, get pressure on the quarterback to disrupt drives, and play slow with elevated rush rates in order to stay in games into the fourth quarter. And for what seems like the better part of the previous four seasons, it’s working.
The biggest positive for the Titans this week is a matchup with the extreme run-funnel nature of the Philadelphia Eagles, who rank second in DVOA against the pass but just 24th in DVOA against the run. Derrick Henry’s snap rate has fluctuated wildly this season, with final touch counts almost directly correlated to his time spent on the field. As in, Henry has played six games since the team’s Week 6 bye. He has seen 71% or more of the offensive snaps in three of those games and 59% or fewer in three of those games. He averages 32 running back opportunities in the three games on the higher side and 19.67 in the three games on the lower end, with two of the three games with low snap rates coming in losses. The Titans are currently 4.5-point dogs on the road. The most telling part is that his touch-per-snap rates have remained fairly consistent all year, it’s simply a function of Henry being on the field more in positive game scripts. Dontrell Hilliard should continue serving as the clear change of pace and long down and distance to go back, with a snap rate tied to the previous conversation. The pure rushing matchup yields a well above average 4.60 net-adjusted line yards metric against an Eagles defense ceding 24.9 DK points per game to opposing backfields.
Titans pass-catchers, as a collective, have exactly two combined instances of more than 81% snap rates, with Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine each going over the mark in Week 5, the first game following Treylon Burks’ injury. That makes sense considering the makeup of this team, a team that utilizes 12 personnel at almost a 60% clip this season. Rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks is the spark of the offense through the air, leading the team in targets per route run rate by a wide margin. He’s also the only pass-catcher to score more than a modest 13.0 fantasy points without scoring multiple touchdowns this season, as NWI did it once on a blowup, two-touchdown game with Treylon out, and tight end Austin Hooper did it once on a two-touchdown game in Week 11. Basically, the low overall volume from this offense, combined with the low pass rate and slow pace of play, has meant no pass-catcher outside of Treylon Burks can be considered viable outside of fluky variance.