All Sean McVay wanted for Christmas was a pair of gloves, the kind worn by hall of fame receiver Jerry Rice.
McVay, the Rams’ 31-year-old coach, on Monday recalled that childhood wish and how it was granted, if not exactly with the same quality material NFL players enjoy.
Now it’s years later, and the Rams will travel to Nashville on Sunday for a Christmas Eve game against the Tennessee Titans.
If the Rams win, they will fly home that night as champions of the NFC West.
“I think you know what would be a good Christmas gift for everybody, is if we’re able to come away with a win,” McVay said, “and that would be a special thing for this team and for a lot of our players.”
The Rams positioned themselves to clinch a division title for the first time since 2003 by routing the Seattle Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle.
The Rams improved to 10-4 with a dominating effort that increased their lead over the Seahawks to two games.
If they win the division, the Rams will be assured of a home game to start the playoffs.
To this point, McVay has invoked the “one game at a time” mantra. But he acknowledged Monday that he would remind his team what it is playing for on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
“We don’t shy away from what is at stake,” McVay said, adding, “That’s absolutely something you talk about.”
Tennessee also goes into the game with playoff aspirations. The Titans are 8-6, two games behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South.
McVay and his players say they have grown from defeats suffered against top playoff contenders.
The Rams were defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings, the current No. 1 and No. 2 NFC playoff seeds, respectively.
The Rams lost at Minnesota in Week 11, and at home to the Eagles the week before dismantling the Seahawks.
“Since the Minnesota game, really, there’s been a tick up in everything we do,” offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said. “In the way we execute, in the way we’re playing.”
Rams players were brimming with confidence on Sunday after they took care of the Seahawks.
They also were looking ahead.
“We just have to be consistent and be able to do it against teams like Seattle, and Philly and Tennessee,” running back Todd Gurley said.
McVay has been a part of a division championship.
In 2015, he was offensive coordinator for a Washington Redskins team that won the NFC East.
He still has the cap commemorating the title.
“That hat is in my house,” he said. “Those are tough to get.”
After rushing for a season-high 152 yards and scoring four touchdowns against the Seahawks, Gurley is gaining traction as a possible candidate for recognition as the NFL’s most valuable player.
Gurley has amassed 1,817 yards from scrimmage and has scored a league-leading 17 touchdowns.
Asked where Gurley fits in the MVP picture, McVay admitted bias.
“He certainly has gotten himself into legitimate conversations with that just based on the production and what he’s meant to our team,” McVay said.
Linebacker Mark Barron came out of the game against the Seahawks because of knee soreness, but McVay said, “We feel like Mark will be OK.”
McVay said chilly conditions affected Barron. “When you just look at the weather and some of the elements, it just bothered him a little bit more than it had,” McVay said.
The forecast for Sunday’s game in Nashville is for possible snow.
“You always have to have some specific adjustments as far as some of your play calls and different things, especially from an offensive standpoint and how that affects your ability to handle the ball,” McVay said. “And a lot of times, especially in that weather, it feels like a rock. But, it’s something that guys will do a good job adjusting just like they did” against the Seahawks.
The Rams are off Tuesday. They have adopted a schedule of having only a walkthrough on Wednesday before resuming practice on Thursday.