The Rams clinched their first division title since 2003 by beating the Titans on Sunday, and a few of their leaders may have clinched some end-of-year accolades in the process.
Rookie head coach Sean McVay — arguably the favorite for Coach of the Year honors — oversaw one of the best games by an indiviidual player this season, as Todd Gurley tallied 276 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 30 touches. That comes one week after Gurley scored four TDs and totaled 180 yards and four touchdowns in the throttling of the Seahawks in Seattle.
If that sounds like legitimate MVP and Coach of the Year candidates, well, it should. Gurley covered up plenty of Rams issues on Sunday, including replacement kicker Sam Ficken, in his first NFL appearance in place of Greg Zuerlein, who was sent to injured reserve this week with a back injury, missing his first two attempts — a PAT and 36-yard field goal.
McVay has orchestrated an offense that's more than doubled its scoring from a year ago and has an MVP candidate in Gurley and perhaps Most Improved Player in Jared Goff. The 2016 first overall pick — who had a 5:7 touchdown-to-inteception ratio as a rookie tossed four touchdowns to bring his total to 28 — the most by a Ram since Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in 2001.
· Meantime, the Titans' playoff hopes took a hit in the defeat. The Jaguars clinched the AFC South and their first division title since 1999 with Tennessee's loss, in which Marcus Mariota and the offense again struggled. Tennesse, now at 8-7, will need help from the Ravens and Bills to return to the postseason.
· The Chiefs locked up their second consecutive AFC West title for the first time in franchise history by beating the Dolphins at Arrowhead. Alex Smith again threw for more than 300 yards, and Kansas City was plus-two in turnover differential in the 29-13 victory that eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention.
· The Saints and Panthers secured postseason spots with wins at home over the Falcons and Bucs, respectively. The NFC South has yet to be decided — a Panther win paired with a Saints loss in Week 17 could give the division to Carolina — but Atlanta's postseason aspirations now depend on a Week 17 win at home over the Panthers.
New Orleans was dominant in avenging its Week 14 loss in Atlanta, with the 'D' notching a pair of turnovers and limiting Atlanta to 2-13 on third downs. Carolina needed a game-winning drive to rally past the Bucs after struggling on offense most of the way. But Cam Newton, on a QB sneak in the final minute, helped the Panthers complete the comeback.
· The Raiders and Lions were each eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday and could be facing an offseason of change. Detroit brass opted not to comment on the status of coach Jim Caldwell, whose offseason extension was reportedly only through 2018. The Raiders, who visit the Eagles on Monday night, gave Jack Del Rio a four-year extension in the spring but have been one of the NFL's most disappointing teams, after winning 12 games a season ago.
· After a competitive first half that ended in a 13-13 tie and controversial overturned touchdown, the Bills coudn't keep up with the Patirots in a 37-16 defeat tha diminished their chances of snapping the NFL's longest postseason drought.
The Bills visit Miami in Week 17 and, in addition to a win, now need a Titans loss in Jacksonville and Chargers loss in Oakland to get in the playoffs.