The good news is last week's overtime win against Indianapolis made it a virtual lock the Tennessee Titans will win the AFC South and thus head to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons. The Two-Toners hold the AFC's best record at 6-2, and Football Outsiders calculates the team has a 96 percent chance of making the playoffs (and nearly a 94 percent chance of winning the division).
More good news? The Titans play only three more games against teams currently above .500. (And one of those is against the New Orleans Saints, who currently have a capital-letter Quarterback Situation.)
Now, of course, the bad news. The Titans will play out the string without Derrick Henry, the warp-speed Abrams tank who was in serious consideration to be league MVP and was chasing a second straight 2,000-yard season — and was all but certain to win the rushing title once again. Some perspective on how dominant Henry has been this season: Despite rushing for just 68 yards against the Colts, he still has a 116-yard lead over the Colts' Jonathan Taylor, currently second on the rushing list. The prognosis for the King after his foot surgery is that he could return in six to 10 weeks. If he comes in on the optimistic side of that range, he still has a chance at 1,000 yards. If he hits the fat part of the curve, he'll be back for the playoffs. And as anyone who has watched Henry work out in the offseason knows, no one is going to work harder to get game-ready.
The Titans brought in Adrian Peterson (also a member of the 2,000-yard club). AP practiced Thursday, and it's possible he'll suit up for Sunday night's matchup in Los Angeles against the 7-1 Rams. Some mix of Peterson, Jeremy "Third &" McNichols and the returning D'Onta Foreman is likely. The Titans won't have preseason stud Mekhi Sargent, as he was picked up by the Rams this week.
Julio Jones was limited in practice this week, but Titans coach/sentient Breaking Benjamin CD Mike Vrabel said the receiver will continue to be evaluated. He did do wind sprints with fellow future Hall of Famer Peterson this week, which made for a fun visual.
As for the Rams, Matt Stafford is showing what he could have done in Detroit for a dozen seasons had he been surrounded by a modicum of talent. (That said, he was damn good for the Lions as it was.) Receiver Cooper Kupp continues to solidify his position as one of the NFL's finest pass catchers. Aaron Donald is still beastly on defense, so the Titans O-line will have to continue their recent improvement at keeping Ryan Tannehill off the turf. Local talent Jalen Ramsey, having escaped from Jacksonville, will be roaming around the defensive backfield.
The NFL and NBC were wise enough to pick this one for prime time, so the game kicks off Sunday at 7:20 p.m. from SoFi Stadium. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will be on the call.