Super Bowl XXXIIII -- Titanic or Ram Tough?
Yes, headline writers across the country are getting ready. Titan-ic Victory, Ram Tough, St. Louis Rams the Titanic. I'm not certain if most people are excited about this game. Where are the Packers? The Cowboys? John Elway? The average person can't name anyone on the Titans. Hell, the average person couldn't tell you where the Titans are from. This is why they should have been named the Tuxedos. The person on the street can tell you where the Rams are from. Some of them might even get it right, the rest would say Los Angeles. So here we are, indoors (thankfully) in Atlanta. Two inexperienced teams, each trying to figure out how to deal with the circus makes for a more difficult to predict game than is usual. On the other hand, it may produce a much better game than usual.
These two teams have met previously this season. History tells us that this means very little. In fact, the nature of that game probably makes it even less meaningful. The Titans jumped out to a big early lead at home, then the Rams came roaring back, with only a missed FG preserving the Titan win. The Rams were very unlucky in that game, I remember thinking at the end that this game proved their class. Usually, the losing team in a game like that has the advantage. They make the adjustments and correct problems. When a team holds on to win the way the Titans did, I suspect that advantage is gone. Both teams had problems and the Titans are a tougher team in general at this point.
How they got here: Miracles helped. But Tennessee whipped the Jags at Jacksonville and that is awfully impressive. The Rams survived against a Tampa Bay team without a QB. If Green had just not thrown that interception at midfield, the Bucs might have won the game 6-5. Maybe if the refs hadn't decided to review a call no one thought needed reviewing, the Bucs might have scored and beaten them. But those things happened and the Rams won. They won because they made the big play when they had to. They won because they stopped the Bucs every time they got enough field position to threaten. I'm confident they would've stopped them again at the end of the game. They are an excellent offensive team and an excellent defensive team.
Prediction: I could analyze this in all kinds of depth. I could discuss matchups and tendencies. I could throw all sorts of stats at you. I could point out that the Rams are not a great offense, that great offenses don't get shut down like that. I could point out that at this level, a team has to have multiple threats and stretch the offense, which the Titans don't do. One could also look at the Titans and see a poor man's Bucs, with an excellent but not dominating defense and an offense with no passing game. It's all nonsense.
History tells us that the team from the better conference wins. As the Giants showed against the Bills and Broncos, being the team that survived a higher level schedule and a tougher playoff route should make you the favorite and usually makes you the winner. There is no question that the AFC was the better conference. While I have great respect for the Rams and their talent, this will be a street fight and the Titans are tougher. Titans 23, Rams 21