An interconference battle that had plenty of luster before the season started has lost its sheen as week 12 of the NFL season stops in the Midwest. The Los Angeles Rams are on the road as they make the trek to face the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles was beaten 27-20 by the Saints on the road, failing to cover as a 2.5-point underdog, last Sunday in their previous contest. Kansas City rallied to edge the Clippers 30-27 on the road last Sunday night in their previous contest, failing to cover the line as a 5.5-point favorite. In the all-time regular season series between the teams, the Chiefs own a 7-5 advantage through the Rams took a 54-51 win at home in the most recent matchup on November 19, 2018.
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Los Angeles Rams Looking for Massive UpsetLos Angeles won the Super Bowl last season but things haven’t gone their way this year as they enter this game losers of four straight following a defeat to the Saints on the road last week. The Rams dropped to 3-7 on the season and sit in the basement of the NFC West standings. Against New Orleans, Los Angeles led 14-10 at the half before getting outscored 14-0 in the third quarter to trail 24-14. The Rams couldn’t find the end zone in the second half, settling for a pair of field goals, including a mainly meaningless 58-yard kick with six seconds to play, sending them to defeat. Los Angeles held a 336-323 edge in total offense though they lost the first down battle 19-17 and the time of possession by a 31:07 to 28:53 margin. Neither team committed a turnover in the contest.
The Rams are 22nd in the league in passing offense with an average of 211.9 yards per game through the air and 31st in rushing offense with an average of 76.1 yards per contest. Los Angeles is 29th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 16.8 points per contest while they are 17th in scoring defense by allowing an average of 22.7 points per game. Matthew Stafford has hit 206 of 303 passes for 2,087 yards with 10 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He adds nine yards plus a score on the ground. John Wolford (24 of 36, 212 yards, TD, INT) and Bryce Perkins (six of 11, 61 yards, 43 rush yards) have seen limited action. Perkins will get the start this week for the injured Stafford.
Darrell Henderson Jr. is the team’s leading ground gainer with 70 carries for 283 yards plus three scores: he was released earlier this week. Cam Akers (76 carries, 237 yards, TD) and Kyren Williams (eight carries, 45 yards) are the current backs in the system. Cooper Kupp leads the team with 75 receptions for 812 yards and six scores on the season. Allen Robinson II (33 catches, 339 yards, three TD), Tyler Higbee (48 grabs, 430 yards) and Ben Skowronek (27 catches, 249 yards) are all over the 200-yard mark in receiving yards on the year. Matt Gay has hit 18 of 18 extra point attempts and 14 of 15 field goal tries with a long of 58 on the year.
The injury report for the Rams is rather lengthy. Stafford (neck, concussion protocol) and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (knee) have been ruled out for this contest already. Tackle Ty Nsekhe (ankle) and center Brian Allen (thumb) didn’t practice Thursday. Meanwhile, tight end Tyler Higbee (knee), wide receiver Allen Robinson II (ankle), center Matt Skura (knee) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) were each limited in practice. Kupp (ankle) is also for most of the regular season. Watch for updates on their respective statuses leading toward kickoff.
Kansas City Chiefs Seeking Fifth Straight WinKansas City had another close call but managed to pull out the road win over the Chargers last Sunday night to earn a fourth straight victory. The Chiefs improved to 8-2 and own a comfortable lead over the moribund AFC West entering this game. Against the Chargers, Kansas City trailed 10-6 after the opening quarter, 20-13 at the half and 20-16 after three quarters. The Chiefs took the lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, gave up the go-ahead score with 1:46 to play and then went 75 yards in six plays to score the winning touchdown with 31 seconds to play to earn the victory. Kansas City owned a 485-365 edge in total offense, picked up 23 first downs while allowing 22 and forced a pair of turnovers while committing one in the game. Those numbers helped the Chiefs overshadow losing time of possession by a 32:19 to 27:41 margin.
On the season, the Chiefs are first in the league in passing offense with an average of 314.7 yards per contest this season. Kansas City stands 17th in the league in rushing offense as they grind out 114.6 yards per game on the year. The Chiefs are first in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 30 points per contest. Kansas City stands 20th in scoring defense by allowing 23.3 points a game this year. Patrick Mahomes is the signal caller for the Chiefs and he’s completed 265 of 400 passes for 3,265 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. He’s third on the team with 238 rushing yards plus a score. In the run game, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is second on the team with 71 carries for 302 yards plus three scores this season. Isiah Pacheco (75 carries, 386 yards, TD) and Jerick McKinnon (39 carries, 149 yards) have been involved in the ground game as well. There is no shortage in targets in the passing game, highlighted by Travis Kelce’s 69 receptions for 855 yards and 11 scores this season. JuJu Smith-Schuster (46 catches, 615 yards, two TD), Mecole Hardman (25 grabs, 297 yards, four TD), McKinnon (26 catches, 212 yards, TD) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (27 catches, 459 yards, TD) all have been good targets this season. Harrison Butker has hit 18 of 20 extra point attempts and eight of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 62 this season. Safety Eric Reid is one of two on extra points without attempting a field goal while Matt Ammendola has connected on three of four extra points and three of his four field goal attempts with a long of 31 on the year. Matthew Wright is five of five on extra points and two of two on field goals with a long of 44.
Edwards-Helaire (ankle) and Hardman (abdominal) were placed on injured reserve in recent days so they are out here. Fullback Michael Burton (illness), wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and guard Joe Thuney (ankle) all did not practice Thursday. Safety Juan Thornhill (calf) was limited in practice. Keep an eye out for updated information regarding their statuses leading up to kickoff.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Rams won the Super Bowl less than 10 months ago but things have gone south in a hurry for them. Los Angeles comes in 3-7 on the year and the playoffs seem like a pipe dream for the franchise at this point. Stafford won’t play and reports are that Perkins, who was the third-string guy under center, is going to get the start with Wolford banged up: the team signed Case Cookus to the practice squad as well. Without Stafford and Kupp, it’s tough to get excited about this Rams’ offense. Kansas City, even with their penchant for close games, is winning contests, which you can’t say about the defending champs. This one has blowout written all over it. The Chiefs roll to a win here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Los Angeles comes into this game having seen the under hit in six of their 10 contests this season. The Rams are just 1-3 on the road and stayed under the number in three of those contests. Their lone road over came last week against the Saints, where the total was just 39.5 points even with Stafford in the mix. Kansas City has split their 10 games in relation to the total on the year but the splits are jarring. Four of their five road contests have exceeded the total but at home, four of the five games have ended up falling short of the mark. We haven’t seen more than 44 points in a game at Arrowhead since the Monday night game against the Raiders in early October. With Perkins or Wolford under center for the Rams, you can’t expect much from them either. Go with the under in this game.