FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Six days after failing to stop Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick from beating them through the air, the Patriots face a distinctly different, and on paper at least, tougher challenge: Trying to contain the Titans’ Derrick Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher.

Henry rushed for 1,540 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and tied with the Packers’ Aaron Jones for the NFL lead with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Henry has the power expected from a 6-foot-3, 247-pound back, but it’s his ability to break big runs that sets him apart. With nine rushes for 20 yards or more this season, Henry challenges every level of a defense.

“Big back, and once he gets past the front seven, he’s a force to be reckoned with,” said defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, who played for Arkansas against Henry at Alabama twice.

Henry, clocked at 4.54 at the NFL combine, slipped all the way to the 45th pick in the 2016 draft. The Patriots’ didn’t select until the 60th pick that year, and took cornerback Cyrus Jones.

Decision makers in all sports have been known to overanalyze things and find reasons to talk themselves out of the obvious, which was the case with Henry.

“He’s a lot faster than people realize. … He’s a really good back,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “We’re going to have our hands full.”

Henry ran for a 68-yard touchdown vs. the Chiefs, a 74-yard score vs. Jacksonville, and a 53-yard TD in a 211-yard game in the Titans’ season finale in Houston.

“That’s a big guy, man, know what I’m sayin’? We need all the guys to tackle him, just gotta bring him down,” cornerback J.C. Jackson said.

Patriots defensive line coach Bret Bielema, as head coach of Arkansas, faced Henry three times. Henry rushed for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries, doing most of his damage as a freshman, when he turned six carries into 111 yards.

“I don’t remember a lot about those games. I think I got concussed as a head coach on some of those ‘Bama games,” Bielema cracked, “but he’s a very, very talented player. The thing that stands out to you is he has the ability to get what’s in front of him, but also a little bit more. He’s got great power. As intriguing as he was as just a physical talent, he really plays the game the right way. You see him, in my opinion, compete for extra yardage. Down on the goal line, he can smell the goal line.”

The Patriots faced four running backs who rank among the top 15 rushers in the league during the regular season and kept all four of them out of the end zone, but every coin has two sides. Flip this one, and it reveals that Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Mixon and Mark Ingram combined for 529 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry.

The Patriots were tied for 16th with 4.2 yards per carry allowed, but tied with the Steelers for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed with seven.

To listen to Coach Bill Belichick evaluate Henry now, it’s reasonable to speculate that had the big back slipped 15 more picks, the Patriots might have drafted him.

“He’s tough,” Belichick said. “He really does everything well as a runner.”

Such as?

“He’s got good vision. For his size, he sees things well. He has good quickness, he can get into space quickly and make the right cuts,” Belichick said. “He’s elusive in the open field, but he’s also very strong and powerful, and he can run through tackles, and he has the speed to make long runs. So, he’s got a good stiff arm, he’s got good lower-body strength. He’s a very hard man to tackle, but he’s got excellent quickness, vision and speed for his size. So he’s not just a one-dimensional runner at all.”

Belichick called Henry, “the best back we’ve seen all year.”

The numbers agree with him. Henry’s rushing total was the NFL’s highest since Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards in 2016.

In last season’s 34-10 Titans upset of the Patriots in Nashville, Henry carried the ball just 11 times, scored two touchdowns and gained 53 yards.

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