Rams vs Titans Live | The Christmas Eve matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans includes a couple of groups with playoff goals headed in inverse ways enterting the penultimate few days of the NFL’s normal season.
The Rams (10-4) are hitting their walk at the ideal time. New off a 42-7 beatdown of the adversary Seahawks in Seattle, Los Angeles now has a two-amusement advantage in the NFC West and are only one win far from securing a home playoff diversion out of the blue since 2003.
It’s astounding truly, to consider where this group was a season prior. Jeff Fisher was getting let go. Todd Gurley looked broken. Jared Goff appeared as though anything besides a NFL quarterback. Embed 31-year-old head mentor and evident hostile intellectual Sean McVay and the Rams look like genuine contenders in the NFC. Gurley is running wild once more. Goff resembles a totally unique quarterback. Football, you’re irregular, man.Rams vs Titans
On the other hand, the Titans (8-6) look like the team they’ve been for the last decade — underwhelming. Maybe we collectively over-hyped this team coming into the season. Clearly, Marcus Mariota (above, right) isn’t developing as quickly as many hoped or expected and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie’s scheme simply doesn’t seem to match up with the third-year quarterback’s strengths. Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” brand of football has been anything but exotic, and simply mundane.Rams vs Titans
Yet, somehow, the Titans still control their own playoff destiny with two games left to play. So, which team shows up? The squad that dismantled the Jaguars and Seahawks early in the season, or the one that has dropped back-to-back games to the Cardinals and 49ers?
Los Angeles at Tennessee
Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Los Angeles -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Todd Gurley
There’s been some talk of Gurley being an MVP candidate — and I’m totally here for it. Maybe it’s because I grew up in an era of unforgettable running backs like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Jerome Bettis (Heck, I wore a Rodney Hampton jersey every day for a week in first grade.) So, maybe I’m just longing for a simpler time when teams force-fed one guy 35 times a game. Or maybe, Gurley is just that good.Rams vs Titans
In the last decade, there has been only one running back to win the Associated Press NFL MVP – Adrian Peterson in 2012. Before AD (not “AP,” guys), it was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006. In ’12, Peterson became just the seventh player with more than 2,000 rushing yards in a season. In ’06, Tomlinson set the NFL single-season scoring record with 31 total touchdowns. So basically, Gurley would have to come close to setting some sort of record before even being considered.
Look, I know Gurley is a long shot to even come close to surpassing the great Tom Brady (although Carson Wentz would have been a serious contender had he not torn his ACL) and winning the award for himself — but hear me out. Gurley leads the league in touchdowns (17) and is third in the NFL in rushing yards (1,187), only 35 yards behind current leader Le’Veon Bell. Gurley also is second on his team in receptions (54, just four behind Cooper Kupp), and is the driving force behind the highest-scoring offense in the league (31.3 ppg, tied with Philadelphia).
While Gurley probably won’t dethrone Brady when the votes are counted, his 180 total yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns last week against Seattle has at least put him in the conversation. If Gurley can repeat against a Titans defense that has been stout against the run all season, it may be time to view him as a legitimate contender.Rams vs Titans
2. Tennessee’s playoff picture
Two weeks ago, despite their uninspiring play, the Titans were 8-4 and in prime position to win their first AFC South crown since 2008. Two straight losses to two bad teams later, and they are looking up in the standings at the Jaguars, who now hold a two-game lead with two to play. Despite their recent shortcomings, the Titans are still in control of their own playoff destiny, but they need help.
Luckily for Tennessee, it holds the tiebreaker against fellow 8-6 teams, Baltimore and Buffalo. But in order for the Titans to get back in the hunt for an AFC South title, they need help from the team and quarterback that beat them last week – Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. If San Francisco can somehow beat Jacksonville at home this week, and the Titans can take care of the Rams, the Week 17 matchup in Nashville against the Jaguars will be for the division title. More importantly, Tennessee can clinch no worse than a wild-card berth with a victory over Los Angeles and losses by both the Ravens (vs. Colts on Saturday) and Bills (at Patriots).
The moral of the Titans’ story? Don’t lose two straight games to two bad teams in the most important stretch of the season.Rams vs Titans