The Los Angeles Rams head to Tennessee after dominating their division rival Seahawks. They now will have a match-up against Marcus Mariota and the desperate Titans. The Rams find themselves on the cusp of an official playoff berth but Mariota and Titans are on a two-game losing skid in desperate need of a win to stay in the playoff picture.
The Titans are 8-6 but they are playing one of the hottest teams in the league in the Rams and then next week they square off against probably the best defense in the league in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mariota and the Titans will not make the playoffs by losing two straight and might not even get to the playoffs winning one of these two games so this Rams game is a must-win. The overall look of this young team is the fact that they simply have all of the talent you would want in an NFL team which has been assembled by none other than General Manager Jon Robinson. The irony of this game is the fact that these two franchises make a trade that has a lot to do with where the Rams are this season in which the Rams acquired the first-overall selection for a boatload of picks to select their now-franchise QB, Jared Goff.
Before we get into the gritty details about both teams and the preview let’s just take a quick look at how this Goff-Titans trade looks through almost two years.
QB Jared Goff – struggles in year one going 0-7, year two under new coaching leads the Rams to 10-4 record and a Pro Bowl selection.
WR Pharoh Cooper – struggles to see field year one, year two he’s now the top return man in the game and a Pro Bowl selection.
WR Mike Thomas – special teams stud in year one, much of the same in year two
TE Temarrick Hemingway – struggles to see field year one, year two ends abrupt after a pre-season ending injury
RB Derrick Henry – has been behind DeMarco Murray but looks like a future star at the position
WR Corey Davis – has loads of potential but has had his rookie year set back due to injuries
TE Jonnu Smith – has flashed this season as a contributor and will likely fill the Delanie Walker’s role after his time is up with the Titans
OT Jack Conklin – has been a great offensive tackle for two years consistently now
NT Austin Johnson – has continued to improve and build up his role in year two
CB Kalan Reed – played well last season, has only played in one game this season and has logged zero statistics
CB LeShaun Sims – struggled in year one, has continued to take the next step in year two as a starter
It’s crazy to think now even though the Rams dealt the farm for the first-overall selection, they still ended up with two Pro Bowl players in their second years. Anyway, one of the aforementioned players LeShaun Sims and free agent signing Logan Ryan are questionable to play in this one which would put a team in desperation mode in real trouble. As you know by now, this Rams team averages over 30 points per game and with Goff playing at a Pro Bowl level and the Rams having players like Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp to throw to, this could be serious trouble in Tennessee. Let’s not forget the new popular MVP candidate runner-up to Tom Brady by many at the moment, Todd Gurley. Gurley just put four touchdowns up on the board on the road in just three quarters. Tennessee is going to need to stop Gurley or this could be serious danger.
Looking at both teams the Titans are actually a really good home team with a 5-1 record at home but unfortunately for them, they face a Rams team that might be the best on the road with a record of 6-1. This is the Rams last game against an AFC South opponent this season, they are 3-0 against the division with blowout wins over the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and a convincing road win over the playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars. This will be no easy task for the Titans who are on a two-game losing streak and have been unable to really explode like many expected the offense to do. DeMarco Murray has been an utter Ram killer in his career but this is a completely different defense coached by Wade Phillips and Murray isn’t the dominant back they saw in Dallas anyway.
The most recent headline was the fact that Greg Zuerlein who is not far or was not far from breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s scoring record in a single-season is now going to be sidelined for the year. This is a semi-lucky break for the Titans, which as crazy as that sounds means that the Rams lost a significant weapon. Zuerlein was an offensive weapon with his ability to make long field goals consistently which allowed the Rams to have an offensive drive stall deep in the opponents territory and still come away with points. Now, the Rams bring on a kicker that has never kicked in a regular season game Sam Ficken, that will be one of the least talked about storylines but it’s a big one. The Rams rely mainly on explosive plays for their offense and when push comes to shove they really do not have the best red zone offense surprisingly as far as consistently finding ways to score touchdowns in the red zone. Without Zuerlein, if the Rams find themselves unable to score touchdowns and Ficken unable to make kicks, this game could be scary for the Rams.
As for the Titans, the play-calling has been rather dull and that has everything to do with Head Coach Mike Mularkey. The Titans just don’t have that creativity and they are already playing with an injured QB that has been playing injured all season long. Mariota and company have recently begun going heavy with the no-huddle and mainly calling the plays himself on the fly and the Titans actually found some success last week albeit in a loss but it was certainly something to build off of. While Mariota has struggled this season you cannot take away what he has been able to do in the league already and his obvious ability to make accurate throws while under duress and of course, use his legs to extend plays and move the chains. Last week, the Rams turned Russell Wilson’s world upside down but with Mariota even if you pressure him he’s second in the league for QB’s under pressure.
This is likely going to be another Jaguars or Saints-like game in which the Rams are able to command the lead and the clock but never truly blow out their opponent. Look, the Titans aren’t some pushover team, they have a lot of talent and could be in for a Rams like season next year with a legit offensive coaching direction. However, right now, this team is now better than the Rams. The reason this game will likely be close is due to the talent on paper and the fact it’s at home. The Rams have a playoff berth to clinch and will be able to take care of business on the road in somewhat of an entertaining match-up.
Final Score: Rams 34, Titans 21