Nick Chubb didn't start thinking about one of the biggest storylines of the Browns' Week 13 matchup against the Tennessee Titans until he was asked a question about it.
That question, which came Wednesday in his interview with local reporters, was about the significance of going head-to-head with running back Derrick Henry, who beat Chubb by 46 rushing yards last season for the NFL title and is the league's current leader. Henry and Chubb, as well as teammate Kareem Hunt, are among the premier backs in the NFL and are the biggest threats of their respective offenses.
But Chubb isn't worried about what Henry might do. He's worried about himself, and that comes at no surprise to anyone who's followed his gameday approach since he was drafted by the Browns in 2018.
"I haven't really thought about it," Chubb said. "I'm not really focused on anything that it has to do personally with me. (Henry) is a big, physical runner. He wears you down and doesn't stop."
The Browns' two-headed beast of Chubb and Hunt likely will need to top whatever damage Henry brings Sunday, and they're certainly capable of doing it. The duo has combined for more than 200 yards in two of the last three games and have been a catalyst behind the Browns' second three-game win streak of the season.
Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Jaguars yesterday by the Browns photo team
Henry, meanwhile, has rushed for over 100 yards in all but four games this season. At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, no running back in the league possesses the same combination of size and speed, and few defenses have been able to execute a game plan to fully suppress his Pro Bowl talents.
Chubb and Hunt can't do anything to stop Henry. But if they can top his output against the Titans, who own the 16th-best rushing defense in the league, the Browns offense should be in good shape.
"I know everybody is going to want to say it is all about these running backs – the three of them, they are extremely special; don't get me wrong," quarterback Baker Mayfield said, "but this is a great game and great teams. It's going to be all three phases against each other. We're going to have to play complementary football and play as a team to win this game. It's going to be a physical one."
Chubb could have extra motivation to outrush Henry. He was edged out for the rushing title last season in Week 17, when Henry ran for a season-best 211 yards to make a final leap over Chubb.
But if Chubb hasn't thought much about playing Sunday on the same field as Henry, then why would he hold any grudges over what happened in 2019? He's been one of the Browns' best offensive playmakers since he returned from his injury in Week 10, and his focus is on himself and possibly building his fourth consecutive game with over 100 yards.
"A little bit," Chubb said when asked if missing the title bothered him, "but it is nothing personal against him. It's more of just myself."
Revenge certainly will come for Chubb if he and Hunt help the Browns reach their ninth win and take another step closer to the postseason. The rushing duo has helped the Browns build their best season since 2007, but there's plenty of work left to meet their seasonal goals.
Maybe that's why Chubb hasn't put much thought on who's on the other end of the field. Sure, the matchup of the game might be between the running backs, but his personal focus is only on the production of one person.