Los Angeles Rams vs. Tennessee Titans: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams battle the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams battle the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Nissan Stadium. TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 6-5. It's been four years since the Rams and Titans last played, with the Titans winning 28-21.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans find themselves in desperation mode with two games left, having blown winnable games against Arizona and San Francisco on the road. They now return home to face the playoff-bound Rams and Jaguars to finish the season, needing to win at least one to solidify a postseason berth.

The first mission for the Titans will be to slow down Todd Gurley, who has rushed for 1,187 yards and also has 54 receptions. Even if they hold Gurley in check with the league's third-best run defense, there is still the passing game with a much-improved Jared Goff to contend with. The Rams will try to get off to an early lead, as they did against the Seahawks.


On the other side, the Rams will look to attack with a relentless pass rush. They followed that recipe to perfection against Seattle -- sacking Russell Wilson seven times.

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The Titans need to get their running game going to keep the Rams from teeing off, but it has failed them too many times, so the best course of action might be to turn things over to Marcus Mariota and let him operate from the spread and the two-minute offense as much as they can.


--Titans' offensive line vs. Rams' pass rush. The Titans' offensive linemen have not been great in the running game this year, but they have done a good job of protecting Mariota and not allowing many sacks -- just 23 for Mariota in 13 games. But the Rams, with Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn leading the way, will present a major challenge. Donald recorded three sacks for 37 yards against Seattle.

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--Rams QB Jared Goff vs. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. One of the big things for Goff in his success this year has been the fact that coach Sean McVay has been reading the defense and helping with the play calls before the headset shuts off. You can bet LeBeau will have something up his sleeve to try to make that diagnosis a false read.




--Out: LB Matt Longacre (back)


--Questionable: CB Logan Ryan (ankle)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Rams WR Cooper Kupp. He needs 121 receiving yards to pass Eddie Kennison (924 in 1996) for the rookie franchise record. He continues to be the top rookie receiver in the NFL and -- with the Titans likely paying added attention to Todd Gurley, Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins -- Kupp should have plenty of room to produce in the passing game.

FAST FACTS: Rams QB Jared Goff aims for his fifth game in a row with two passing TDs and a 90 rating. ... RB Todd Gurley leads the NFL with 17 TDs and ranks second with 1,817 scrimmage yards. He had 180 yards (152 rushing) and a career-high four TDs in Week 15 and joined Marshall Faulk as the only players in franchise history with 150 rushing yards, three rushing TDs and a TD catch in a game. ... DT Aaron Donald tied a career high with three sacks last week. He aims for a third game in a row vs. the AFC with a sack and forced fumble. ... LB Robert Quinn had two sacks in Week 15. He aims for a fifth straight game with a sack a third straight on the road with two or more sacks. ... Titans QB Marcus Mariota passed for two TDs last week. In his past three home games vs. NFC teams, he has 791 passing yards, eight TDs and one interception. ... RB DeMarco Murray has 587 scrimmage yards (195.7 per game) and three rushing TDs in three career games vs. the Rams. ... Titans TE Delanie Walker had a TD catch in Week 15 and has a receiving TD in three of the past four. ... Titans LB Wesley Woodyard had 10 tackles, two for loss, and a sack last week. ... Titans LB Avery Williamson has three sacks in his past four games. He aims for a third straight game vs. the NFC with a sack.


PREDICTION: While both teams are in the thick of the playoff race, the Titans desperately need a victory. They will find a way to pull this one out at home.

OUR PICK: Titans, 24-23.

--Ellen Port

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