The outlook for the Tennessee Titans was brighter two weeks ago before they suffered back-to-back road losses to sub-.500 teams. The Titans get to come back home this weekend, but the competition gets much tougher when the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams pay a visit on Sunday.
Tennessee is one of three 8-6 teams tied for the final two wild cards in the AFC and still has an outside shot winning the AFC South, but it sits two games behind the Jacksonville Jaguars with two games to play. The Titans, who lost at Arizona and San Francisco in the last two games, could actually clinch a playoff spot this week with a win over the Rams and losses by the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills. Los Angeles is in its own playoff battle but is in a much more comfortable position after opening a two-game lead in the NFC West by blasting the Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle last week. “We got a game next week,” Rams linebacker Robert Quinn told reporters. “We gotta win that one. It’s pretty simple. I don’t try to look at the big picture.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Rams -7. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE RAMS (10-4): Los Angeles had five players named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday - the franchise’s most since 2003 - along with three alternates including quarterback Jared Goff. While Goff is excelling in his second season, running back Todd Gurley is the one sneaking into the MVP conversation and is up to 1,817 yards and 17 touchdowns - rushing and receiving - on the season after totaling four scores in last week’s win. “I might be a little biased, but I think he’s the best running back in the league,” Goff told reporters. “He’s the most complete running back. He can do it out of the backfield, he can do it in the passing game, he can do it in the pass-protection game. Obviously, the way he runs is special.”
ABOUT THE TITANS (8-6): Tennessee was held to one score in the 12-7 loss at Arizona in Week 14 but at least got the offense moving again at San Francisco in last week’s 25-23 setback. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was held under 200 yards passing in three consecutive games before breaking out with 241 yards and a pair of TD passes with no interceptions against the 49ers, and ball security is a point of emphasis. “It’s the difference between winning and losing every week,” head coach Mike Mularkey told reporters of the Titans, who are minus-seven in turnover ratio. “It’s a big emphasis. We talk about it, and it’s on the board every week. It’s a huge emphasis, and we need to start doing it.”
1. Titans DT Jurrell Casey, LT Taylor Lewan and P Brett Kern were named to the Pro Bowl.
2. Los Angeles will send DT Aaron Donald, PR/KR Pharoh Cooper and P Johnny Hecker to the Pro Bowl along with Gurley, although K Greg Zuerlein - who also made the team - is headed to IR with a back injury.
3. Tennessee LB Derrick Morgan (knee sprain) is expected to return after missing the last two games.
PREDICTION: Rams 35, Titans 24