Detroit News scouting report: Lions at Titans

Matt Schoch
Special to The Detroit News
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Lions at Titans

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Sunday, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

TV/radio: CBS/760 AM

Records: Lions 5-8; Titans 9-4

Line: Titans by 11

Matt Schoch breaks down the Lions' Week 15 matchup at the Tennessee Titans for The Detroit News:

Derrick Henry

Key matchup

LIONS RUSH DEFENSE AGAINST DERRICK HENRY

Seeing as though the result is immaterial this week, the rest of the season is for the Lions to take stock of what they have.

When you face an elite running back powering an advanced run game, team decision-makers (whoever they will be) have a chance to gain some valuable tape.

Which players in the defensive front are worth keeping? While there’s plenty more that goes into these decisions, Sunday will provide evidence.

Subscription: Detroit News predictions: Lions at Titans

Tennessee is third in the NFL at 4.9 yards per carry. The devastating Henry leads the NFL in rushing yards by nearly 200.

Who, if anyone, can bottle him up consistently?

Titans to watch

►Derrick Henry, RB: As great as Henry was at Alabama, his first three pro years were underwhelming. Then came last year, particularly in the postseason, where Henry grabbed the conch as the NFL’s best ballcarrier. Tackling Henry looks frightening, so I don’t think I’ll try. Henry could be the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (1,532 with three to go). He’d be the first since Adrian Peterson in 2012.

►Corey Davis, WR: While the Western Michigan product has enjoyed a big season on the field, he’s also endured heartbreak off it. His older brother and former Central Michigan wideout, Titus, died last month from kidney cancer. Corey played the next day and led the Titans with five catches on national TV. Davis is on track to set career highs in receptions (56 this season), receiving yards (835) and touchdowns (four).

Desmond King

►Desmond King, CB: The Detroit East English product was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason. The fifth-round pick out of Iowa had two nice kick returns for the Chargers last year in a Detroit homecoming and should get plenty of snaps in a defensive reserve role on Sunday. King does have six starts this season but seeks his first interception of the year.

Facts and figures

► Going on the road and handling business is one thing Detroit has done well this year, going 4-3. Sunday is a chance to finish above .500 on the road for the first time since 2017, the season that got Jim Caldwell fired.

► Arthur Smith is the Tennessee offensive coordinator and is near the top of head-coaching vacancy lists. FanDuel gives Smith 11-1 odds to be the Lions’ coach next season. Smith presides over an offense that is third overall in yards per game and second in rushing. Mike Vrabel is the fourth Tennessee head coach that has had Smith on staff. Smith, 38, is a former offensive lineman for North Carolina and started his coaching career on the defensive side.

► Hard as it may be to believe, the Lions are going to be double-digit underdogs for the first time this season (last week’s line settled at 9.5 points against Green Bay). Under Patricia, the Lions went 0-3 outright in these types of games. We’ll see if they can finally pull an upset against a playoff team.

Matt Schoch is a writer for PlayMichigan.com and freelances for The Detroit News.

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