How do you follow up the type of performance the Rams put on in week 15? Clinch your first playoff berth since 2003. That’s what is on the line when the Rams head to Tennessee in week 16. As exciting as last week’s statement win was, the Rams have moved on. There is no time to look back at this time of the season. Week 16’s matchup brings a rare late-season non-conference opponent… a non-conference opponent that barely holds the five seed in the AFC playoff picture. That’s beside the point, it’s time for the Rams to punch their ticket to the playoffs. A win will take care of that.
Time and time again the Rams have shown their ability to move on from a big win, or loss, and come ready for the next one. There are no egos in that locker room, just like the “Greatest Show on Turf” days. Instead, they push one another to be better, to be the next to make the big play. Iron sharpens iron and these are the games that separate the contenders from the pretenders. You can bet they know this and will be ready come Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams Offense vs. Tennessee Titans Defense
Rams run game
For the second consecutive week, running back Todd Gurley averaged over 7.0 yards per carry. This time it was on 21 carries, his fifth game with 20 or more carries this season. No surprise, it is also their fifth win of the season in such games. Amazingly, Gurley has averaged 7.3 yards per carry over the last two games. That’s 1.7 more yards per carry than the next closest running back with at least 25 carries over the last two weeks.
Yards won’t come easy against a Titans run defense that is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game at 87.2. Though Gurley had his way with the team allowing the fewest in the Eagles a couple of weeks ago. In fact, he had two rushing touchdowns against the Eagles in week 14 and rushed for more yards against them than any other running back in 2017. All that on only 13 carries, too. Well, the Titans have allowed only five rushing touchdowns all season long. Titans are one of seven teams that are allowing 3.7 or fewer yards per carry on the entire season. Not to mention they’re fourth fewest in first downs allowed on runs. Gurley is having none of that. He and the Rams’ offensive line have been magnificent in the run game. Having their way with opposing defensive lines and second-level linebackers. If head coach Sean McVay’s press conference was a sign of things to come, Gurley will be force-fed the ball in Week 16. And if history tells us anything, the offense will be successful.
Rams pass game
If the Titans focus their attention on stopping the run the Rams have the passing attack to take advantage of a Titans defense that has allowed 17 more first downs than any other team in the passing game. To be exact, 207 passing first downs. Wide receiver Robert Woods will be in his second game back since missing weeks 12 through 14. He will see a fellow USC standout in rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. So far this season has been up and down, though he is tied for the league-lead in pass defended with 13. Jared Goff has not thrown for 200 or more yards since week 13 but has thrown four touchdowns over the last two games. Only twice has he not thrown at least one touchdown in a game this year and they lost both of those games. Dropping back will come with difficulty, though. The Titans are currently fifth in the league in quarterback sacks with 40, while the Rams have allowed the eighth-fewest with 24. With how effective the run game has been, passes could come in bunches. It could also eliminate the Titans’ pass-rush.
Los Angeles Rams Defense vs. Tennessee Titans Offense
Titans run game
Titans have two of the most sure-handed running backs in the league in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Not to mention a whole lot of speed and size. These two have combined for over 1,300 yards and 10 punishing touchdowns. Defenses don’t want to let them get ahead in games as these two runners will wear you down much faster than a single back throughout a game. Coming out and setting the tone for the run defense will be key. The Rams’ defense has been pushed around for 4.7 yards per carry this season, third most. As well as the ninth most rush yards allowed per game at 120.8. A few weeks back the Rams faced a similar pair in Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. Big powerful backs, but not the same speed as the Titan’s duo. They were held to a combined 90 yards on 22 attempts. That was with Carson Wentz leading the Eagles’ passing attack. With all due respect to Marcus Mariota, Rams will have more focus on the run game this week. The speed possessed by the Rams on defense will help swarm the running back before they are able to get in space and make them pay. Keeping the run game contained will be the key for this Rams defense.
Titans pass game
The Titans offense is barely averaging over 200 yards per game passing. They are eighth lowest in that category with 200.4 yards passing per game. Up against a Rams passing defense allowing the sixth fewest pass yards per game at 208.1 and third lowest completion percentage allowed at 58.4. Mariota’s 14 interceptions will have an aggressive Rams defense salivating at the prospects of adding to their 15 interceptions. Especially with the way the Rams’ pass-rush has performed over the last two games, sacking the quarterback 18 times, though the Titans’ offensive line is one of the best in terms of pass blocking. They’ve given up a total of 12 quarterback sacks on the season, that’s the fifth fewest. After seeing Troy Hill step up in a major way against the Seahawks, it gives the Rams confidence should they not generate much in terms of pass-rush. The advantage goes to the Rams in this phase. They just held Russell Wilson to 142 passing yards, his lowest amount over his last 32 games. It was complete domination, with credit to the pass-rush. When they generate the type of pressure like they did in week 15, the secondary’s job becomes a little less demanding.
Every week it appears the Rams unveil another level of play nobody knew they had. Just when you think you have them figured out, they blow the defending NFC West champs out of the water. You can feel what these guys are doing is special, and no game is unwinnable. These are going to be a very exciting last couple of weeks to the 2017 season. Fans are hoping they can get the playoffs locked up this week in order to take some of their stress away for week 17. It’s a completely understandable feeling after watching many different Rams teams botch any chances they’ve had over the years. Fans will find out a lot about this young Rams team in week 16. How they respond to a win like the one they had over the Seahawks will tell us how ready they may be for the postseason. It’s time for the drought to end, Rams win this one 30-17.
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