Rams vs. Titans matchups: In prime time, L.A. faces tougher opponent
Breaking down how the Rams (7-1) and the Tennessee Titans (6-2) match up heading into their game at 5:20 PST on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be carried on NBC (Channel 4).
When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Matthew Stafford sat out two days of practice because of back stiffness and was limited Friday but will play Sunday. Stafford has passed for 22 touchdowns, with four interceptions. Receiver Cooper Kupp was named NFC offensive player of the month for the second time after amassing 63 catches for 924 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. The Rams released receiver DeSean Jackson, and rookie Tutu Atwell suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. So Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson will be backed up by rookies Ben Skowronek and Jacob Harris, and J.J. Koski. Woods is nursing a foot injury that caused him to sit out two days of practice but is expected to play. Running back Darrell Henderson is emerging as a dual threat after running for a touchdown and catching another touchdown pass last Sunday in a 38-22 victory over the Houston Texans. Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth could return after sitting out against the Texans because of a knee injury. Harold Landry III has amassed 8½ sacks, tied for second-most in the NFL, and fellow linebacker David Long has a team-best 60 tackles. Safety Kevin Byard has intercepted four passes.
The Rams and Tennessee Titans each have four-game winning streaks and injury problems heading into their marquee matchup Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
When Titans have the ball: The Titans suffered a massive blow when star running back Derrick Henry sustained a season-ending foot injury during a 34-31 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts last week. The Titans signed future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, 36, but that is not expected to make up for the loss of a player who leads the NFL in yards rushing and touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has passed for 10 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. A.J. Brown has been Tannehill’s main target, catching 35 passes but is listed as questionable because of a knee issue. Julio Jones has 17 catches. Former Rams receiver Josh Reynolds has only 10 catches. The Rams this week traded for outside linebacker Von Miller, adding him to a front that also includes three-time NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald and edge rusher Leonard Floyd, who has a team-best 6½ sacks. Miller has been nursing an ankle injury and probably will be a game-time decision, coach Sean McVay said. Greg Gaines will start in place of nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, who will have surgery to repair a chest muscle and will be sidelined indefinitely. Cornerback Darious Williams, sidelined for three games because of an ankle injury, could return to the lineup.
When they kick: The Rams’ struggling special teams are going through change because of injury. With Atwell sidelined, Koski and Buddy Howell are among those who could return punts and kicks. In each of the of the last two games, the Rams failed to recover at least one onside kick. Matt Gay has made 14 of 15 field-goal attempts. Titans kicker Randy Bullock has made 15 of 17 field-goal attempts.
Gary Klein’s prediction: After playing three weak opponents, this would have been a great test for the Rams. But Henry’s injury will be too much for the Titans to overcome. The Rams should win easily.
RAMS 34, TITANS 17
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