Chiefs, Mahomes brace for Henry in clash of the Titans

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball against Khaleke Hudson of the Washington Football Team during the first half at FedExField on October 17, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Patrick Mahomes says the Kansas City Chiefs will need to find a way of containing what he describes as one of the greatest running backs of all time when they head to Nashville on Sunday to face Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.

The Chiefs, who have made a slow start to the season with three wins and three defeats, face a Titans team brimming with confidence following their 34-31 win over much-fancied Buffalo on Monday.

Titans running back Henry was the cornerstone of that win over the Bills, rushing for three touchdowns, including a rampaging 76-yard score that saw him hit a top speed of 21.8mph.

It was yet another example of the devastating combination of speed and power that the 6ft 3in (1.90m) 238-pound (107.9kgs) Henry has posed to defenses across the NFL in recent seasons.

Henry has led the league in rushing over the past two seasons, breaking the 2,000-yard barrier last season after amassing 1,540 yards in 2019.

This year, Henry has surged clear once again in the rushing rankings, with 783 yards from six games at an average of 130 yards per game.

That could spell trouble for a Chiefs defense that ranks 28th in the league this season, and which has allowed 799 rushing yards in six games.

"I think he presents a challenge for everybody," Chiefs quarterback Mahomes said when asked about Henry this week.

'Special talent'

"He's one of the best running backs, to me, of all time, the way he's able to run the football to get 20, 30, whatever, 40 carries it is and then he comes back the next week and he’s just as fresh as the week before.

"He's a special talent who works his tail off to be who he is. We understand it's gonna be a great challenge for any defense to stop him, but we're gonna try to do the best we can to limit him as much as possible."

The Chiefs' trip to Nashville is a game the 2019-2020 Super Bowl champions can ill-afford to lose as they attempt to move back into playoff contention. Daunting fixtures against the Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys are looming over the next month, leaving little margin for error for the Chiefs if they are to reignite their season.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams (5-1) will look to stay in touch with the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals (6-0) when they host the winless Detroit Lions at SoFi Stadium.

The game marks a bittersweet return to California for Lions quarterback Jared Goff, who was hustled out of the door by the Rams earlier this year as part of a blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford.

'Disrespect, sourness'

While Stafford has flourished at his new home, the same can hardly be said for Goff, who admitted this week that the circumstances of his brusque exit from the Rams still rankled.

"It'll be fun to see all those people and it'll be fun to be there. Of course, you're motivated. Of course, you have the chip on your shoulder," said Goff, once viewed as the man to lead the Rams into a bold new era after being chosen with the top pick in the 2016 draft.

"There was some disrespect felt towards the end, there was some sourness there towards the end and you still feel that," Goff added.

While Goff will be reacquainting himself with his former teammates in Los Angeles, there will also be a reunion of sorts when the Arizona Cardinals host the struggling Houston Texans on Sunday.

The NFC West-leading Cardinals are the last unbeaten team in the NFL, and include in their ranks two former Houston icons in the shape of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt.

Hopkins was controversially dealt to the Cardinals in 2020 by former coach Bill O'Brien, while Watt was granted a release by the club earlier this year after 10 years of service.

Texans coach David Culley does not believe Watt or Hopkins will be motivated to make a point against their former club on Sunday as the Cardinals aim to go to 7-0 for the first time since 1974.

"Wen you are 6-0 like they are and one of the best teams in football, I would look at it like we are the next opponent," Culley told reporters.

"They are looking at the big picture of being a playoff team and moving on and we happen to be the next opponent in the way, although those guys have been here."