NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** The Titans face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Marcus Mariota **
After struggling against the Cardinals, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota bounced back against the 49ers, posting his highest passer rating (110.8) of the season. The Titans need him to stay sharp. A reason to be optimistic: In the past three games at home against NFC opponents, Mariota has 791 pass yards (263.7 per game) with eight touchdowns and an interception, and a 112.0 rating.
The Titans worked out of the no-huddle roughly 75 percent of the time against the 49ers, and it worked. One of the most popular questions for coach Mike Mularkey this week has been: Will the Titans use it again this week against the Rams? Mularkey said the Titans have worked on it this week, just like every week, but he gave no hints on whether it will be used. Stay tuned.
Cornerback Logan Ryan didn't practice all week, and LeShaun Sims was placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in practice. The team signed cornerback Demontre Hurst to take his place on the 53-man roster. This week, Mularkey talked about the prospects of young cornerbacks Tye Smith and Kalan Reed playing on Sunday. Needless to say, some guys are going to have to step up against quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams. Mularkey indicated Ryan would be a game-day decision.
Todd Gurley vs Titans run D
Gurley has been a force out of the backfield for the Rams, with 1,187 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He had 180 scrimmage yards (152 rush, 28 rec.) last week against the Seahawks. The Titans run defense is ranked third overall, allowing just 87.2 yards per game on the ground. One of the big keys on Sunday will center on the team's success vs. the run.
Titans run game vs. Rams D**
OK, I'm flipping it here. As fun as the no-huddle was against the 49ers, the Titans would probably love nothing more than to run the football, and play keep-away from a high-powered Rams offense. Enter DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Tennessee's run game has been inconsistent this season. The Rams are ranked 24th in the NFL vs. the run (allowing 120.8 ypg), and 30th in average per carry (4.7). The Titans need to be able to run it.
The Titans didn't get it done out West. Losses to the Cardinals and 49ers have turned Sunday's game against the Rams into a big one. The Titans have been a different team at home of late, with a 5-1 record this season and wins in nine of their last 10 games at Nissan Stadium. On Christmas Eve, the Titans are going to need to play well to win. The team could also use a boost from the home crowd, which has impacted recent wins with noise.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)