Clash with the Titans Locks Up the NFC West

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Updated: December 21, 2017

Sunday’s clash in Nashville against the faltering Titans is loaded. Not only will there be Super Bowl XXXIV footage but this game will act as a referendum on the Jared Goff trade. Much has been written about this trade (mostly negative) but the tables have turned. At the time it appeared that the Titans won this trade outright. Tennessee had a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. They found a top back in Derrick Henry in the third round and this year they selected Corey Davis to be Mariota’s primary target. As the season has gone on the hopes the Titan fans saw last year has diminished. The team is plagued by an offense so conservative that Mitch McConnell would only pass it after midnight. For the Rams, what appeared to be an inverse of the RGIII trade has become a boon. With a win, the Rams lock up the NFC West and possibly eliminate the Titans from playoff contention.

Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” offense looked dangerous. Mariota could run the option while DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry chewed up yards. The offense went stagnant because Mariota was overrun and got hurt and the passing game all but disappeared. For the Rams defense, this clash comes down to two factors. Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn need to shut down the running game and stop Mariota from running out of the pocket. Mariota is turnover prone and thus it should be a great day for the secondary. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker are the only reliable targets Mariota has. If the pass rush makes it to Nashville it’ll be a long day for the Titans.

Offensively, the Rams have every opportunity to succeed. The Titans defense has come on in recent weeks but they did so only against bad teams. Their secondary has talent. Kevin Byard is a terrific young safety and Adoree’ Jackson is a great corner waiting to happen. Still, Logan Ryan has had a rough year and they will struggle against a team with as many receivers as the Rams. Todd Gurley should be a factor against a Titans front seven that is in flux. Wesley Woodyard and Jurell Casey are stout defensive tackles but the Rams offensive line should be able to open holes.

Jared Goff will have a great game. He has more targets than the Titans have the people to stop them. If the Rams decide to go double tight end, it’ll be over. The Titans were never going to draft Goff since they had Mariota but this game might hurt. If the Rams come in and beat him it will prove that they squandered their haul from the Goff trade. Corey Davis was taken with the 5th overall pick and hasn’t developed into a number one target yet. Derrick Henry is the best of those picks and he’s still stuck behind DeMarco Murray. Les Snead took a swing and it very well could’ve cost him his job. A year later and now that trade is being reevaluated as a major win. The Rams are going to win the division and the Titans may have to reassess the direction their team is going. What a difference a year makes.

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