Axios Nashville

Picture of the Nashville skyline.
January 18, 2022

Happy Tuesday. Let's get going!

Today's weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 47. Some school districts are closed or delayed because of icy back roads.

Today's newsletter is 826 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Titans look to D-line

Titans player Jeffery Simmons charging onto the field.
Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Titans embark on their Super Bowl quest as slight favorites over the ascending Cincinnati Bengals in an upcoming divisional round battle this Saturday.

Driving the news: The game is loaded at the skill positions. The Bengals have young stars such as Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase, while the Titans are led by the return of Derrick Henry and wide receiver A.J. Brown.

  • But if there's one area where the Titans may have a distinct advantage, it's in the trenches.

Why it matters: The Bengals allowed the third-most sacks in the league and finished 30th in pass block win rate this season, according to ESPN analysis. That seems to present an opportunity for the Titans' ferocious front seven, led by second team All-Pro defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.

  • Simmons finished the season with 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
  • On the other side of the ball, the Bengals suffered a key loss last week when defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi was lost for the remainder of the postseason with a foot injury.

By the numbers: The Titans are 3.5-point favorites on DraftKings.

What we're watching: There's extra incentive to root for the Titans during the playoffs.

  • Edley's Bar-B-Que owner Will Newman promised one free pork sandwich to every Nashvillian if the Titans win the Super Bowl.
  • "I'm betting big," Newman said. "I'm going all-in on the Titans. So much so that if the Titans win, I'm feeding all of Nashville a pork sandwich."

2. Weather outside is frightful

A woman walking outside The Parthenon in Nashville after a snowfall.
The scene outside The Parthenon Sunday. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Another blast of snow over the weekend put this month in line with the snowiest Januarys in Nashville history.

  • The National Weather Service has recorded 9.3 inches of snow so far this month at the Nashville International Airport.

By the numbers: Our normal snowfall total in January is about 2 inches, according to the NWS.

  • Only two other Januarys on record were trending higher at this point in the month, NWS meteorologist Brendan Schaper tells Axios.
  • In 1918, 10.4 inches had fallen by Jan. 17. In 1977, the total stood at 10.3 inches.

⛄ And yes: We could get more.

  • Schaper says forecasters are watching two upcoming systems for the possibility of extra snow.

What's next: A storm coming through Wednesday night could include a combination of rain, snow, and sleet.

  • Another system that could hit early next week might also include a wintry mix.

3. Metro Council preview: More LPR debate

An exterior shot of the Davidson County Courthouse.
Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

The Metro Council is set to meet tonight. Some items on the agenda:

🚙 An impassioned and long-running debate over police using license plate readers is set to return to the council floor.

  • A bill that would allow police to use LPR data for a wide variety of investigations and initiatives is up for a pivotal vote.

ğŸŽ’ Two bills approving leases for Liberty Collegiate Academy and Nashville Prep charter schools face final votes.

🗺 Redrawn council and school board district maps, two local redistricting efforts led by the Planning Department, are up for a final vote.

4. The Setlist

Illustration of a neon sign in the shape of an arrow reading "THE SETLIST."
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

📍 Tennessee advocacy groups met Monday to protest redistricting plans they said could hurt minority voters. (WPLN)

Judge Gilbert Merritt, a fixture of the Tennessee judiciary, has died. (The Tennessean)

⚖ Democratic lawmakers are pushing to oust a controversial juvenile court judge in Rutherford County. (Daily News Journal)

An online memorial service is planned for Dan Einstein, the beloved Sweet 16th Bakery owner who died this week. (News Channel 5)

5. Child vaccinations lag

Note: Data is not shown for states in which the county was unknown for at least 10% of the children vaccinated in that state, or where children vaccination data was unavailable; Reproduced from a KHN analysis of CDC and NCHS data. Chart: Axios Visuals

Fewer than one in five eligible young children in Nashville are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to an analysis of federal data from Kaiser Health News.

  • And in many of Tennessee's rural counties, the percentage of vaccinated youth ages 5-11 falls into the low single digits.

Why it matters: "There's a myth that's been circulating since the beginning of the pandemic that children don't get sick from COVID, and that's simply not true," James Antoon, a doctor and professor at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, tells Axios.

  • "I see children hospitalized for COVID every day," Antoon says.
  • Often, he says, parents change their minds and want to pursue vaccination after their children are seriously ill.

By the numbers: Pediatric hospitalizations have spiked in Tennessee with the rise of the Omicron variant.

  • 70 minors who tested positive for COVID were hospitalized in Tennessee as of last Wednesday, seven of them in intensive care.

Between the lines: Vaccinating kids and adults is the best way to protect babies and young children ages 0-4, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

  • "We need to protect them because they can't protect themselves," Antoon says. "The way to do that is to vaccinate everyone around them."

6. 1 photo to go: MLK in Nashville

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks in front of a set of microphones at Fisk University in May 1964.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to a crowd at Fisk University in May 1964. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Fisk University in May 1964. His speech came amid a week of demonstrations throughout the city for racial equality.

  • King encouraged students to continue their demonstrations, according to media coverage at the time.

Background: Nashville was a crucial pillar of the civil rights movement. Prominent activists John Lewis, Diane Nash, and James Lawson trained and began organizing efforts in Nashville.

🤘 Nate is listening to new music from the rock band Cloakroom, whose members, like Nate, are from northwest Indiana. Cloakroom's music is dark and sludgy, like Nate's soul.

😱 Adam is looking for lighter movie options this week after watching the harrowing "The Power of the Dog."