Derrick Henry closing in on record set by Barry Sanders – AL.com

If Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry runs for 100 yards against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, the former Alabama All-American will tie an NFL record held by Barry Sanders.

And that could punch the Titans’ ticket to the playoffs.

Entering the contest at Lambeau Field, Henry has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of Tennessee’s past nine road games. Sanders holds the NFL record for consecutive road games with 100 rushing yards at 10.

Sanders also holds the NFL record for 100-yard rushing games in December with 19. Henry has eight 100-yard rushing games in the 12th month, including seven of his past 11 December outings.

Tennessee has won all eight of those games. Only one NFL player has produced more 100-yard rushing games in December without his team losing any of them – Edgerrin James, who had a 17-0 record in 100-yard games in the 12th month.

If the Titans defeat Green Bay, then Tennessee will secure a playoff berth with a week remaining in the regular season.

In his past nine road games, Henry has run for 1,268 yards and 14 touchdowns on 230 carries. Henry’s road stats don’t include last season’s playoffs when he ran for 446 yards and two touchdowns on 83 carries in three away games.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur worked as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2018, Henry’s first season as an NFL starter.

“He is a beast,” LaFleur said of Henry. “And you can see it. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. You can see all 11 guys, they’re very efficient on offense, both in the run game and the pass game. Obviously, when you have a guy of the caliber of Derrick Henry, who’s a big man that is very, very fast, it sets everything up for you. They know each and every week everybody’s going to come to try to stop the run and nobody can do it.”

Entering Week 16 of the NFL season, the Titans have scored more points than any team in the league with 436. The Packers have scored only two fewer. Sunday night’s game is the first in NFL history in Week 16 or later in a season between teams averaging at least 30 points apiece.

For Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the reason for the Titans’ offensive success is no secret. It’s Henry.

“To me, that’s what makes this offense so difficult to defend,” Pettine said. “You think of it as one-dimensional, and it really isn’t because it starts with the run, and then the run opens everything up. The play-pass, just some of the wide-open looks they’ve been able to get and that’s just a credit to how well they run the football. If you’re not locked in and flying downhill and reacting to these run looks, you’re going to get gashed in the run game, so that’s why you see so many wide open or just real advantageous looks coverage-wise for an offense. …

“The tape doesn’t lie. This is a special back having a career year, so it’s a big challenge for us. Our guys are looking forward to it. It’s December football at Lambeau. I just think it being a night game and national TV, everything’s going to be ramped up.”

The Titans and Packers are scheduled to kick off at 7:20 p.m. CST Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. NBC will televise the game.

NFL WEEK 16: SCHEDULE, TV, ODDS

The weather forecast calls for a temperature of 29 degrees with snow at kickoff on “the frozen tundra” on Sunday night.

“It’s football,” Henry said. “The climate changes as the year goes on. Just go out there and play. No matter what the weather is, you got to go play a game. Got to go out there and do your job, so whatever the weather is you’ve got to go play football.”

For the season, Henry has 1,679 yards and 15 touchdowns on 321 rushing attempts. He has a 122-yard lead on second-place Dalvin Cook in the race for the 2020 rushing crown, and the Minnesota Vikings running back has only one regular-season game remaining. Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards last season. LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and 2007 is the most recent player to lead the NFL in rushing in consecutive seasons.

With 147 rushing yards in last week’s 46-25 victory over the Detroit Lions, Henry passed former Auburn standout William Andrews for third on the single-season rushing list for NFL players from Alabama high schools and colleges. Andrews ran for 1,567 yards for the Atlanta Falcons in 1983.

The only state player ahead of Henry is another former Alabama standout – Shaun Alexander, who had 1,880 rushing yards in 2005 and 1,696 in 2004 for the Seattle Seahawks.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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