The Kansas City Chiefs host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12 before taking a three-game road trip. What looked like a pivotal inter-conference clash between two Super Bowl hopefuls back in September now looks more like a cakewalk, at a glance. For starters, the Rams are playing like dirt. To make matters worse, their best players are dropping like flies. We’ll get to that in a moment.
The Chiefs are on top of the AFC standings at 8-2, but have some injury concerns of their own:
- OUT – WR Mecole Hardman (abdomen – injured reserve until Week 15)
- OUT – WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring)
- OUT – RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle – injured reserve until Week 16)
- QUESTIONABLE – FS Juan Thornhill (calf)
- QUESTIONABLE – LG Joe Thuney (ankle)
- QUESTIONABLE – CB Chris Lammons (concussion)
Thuney is the big question mark here, as the Chiefs’ interior will have their hands full with All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Some good news: the Chiefs plan to return wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who missed last week with a concussion, and offensive tackle Lucas Niang, who will suit up for the first time this season. Niang should function as a swing tackle for the playoff stretch.
While the Chiefs are favored heavily in this game, there is reason for pause. As observed by Kurtis Seaboldt:
And despite the fact that both the 2018 Eagles (Nick Foles) and 1995 49ers (Elvis Grbac) were quarterbacked by backups in those games, there is reason to think that this pattern will not continue this time. Most importantly, the Chiefs are led by Patrick Mahomes.
But let’s move beyond the obvious, and talk about how the Rams are going to be missing several important names:
- OUT – WR Cooper Kupp (injured reserve)
- OUT – QB Matthew Stafford (concussion)
- OUT – QB John Wolford (neck)
- OUT – DL A’Shawn Robinson (knee)
- OUT – C Brian Allen (thumb)
- QUESTIONABLE – C Matt Skura (knee)
- QUESTIONABLE – LT Ty Nsekhe (ankle)
- QUESTIONABLE – WR Allen Robinson (ankle)
- QUESTIONABLE – TE Tyler Higbee (knee)
Stafford is obviously the big news there, but the impact of the missing offensive linemen will have a huge impact on the Los Angeles offense. The 3-7 Rams are expected to start former UDFA Bryce Perkins at quarterback. Perkins is a dual-threat quarterback who thrived in a quick-passing attack at Virginia.
Most of the staff picked correctly in Week 11, but there was a little bit of shuffling around the standings. Anthony Hatton nailed the 30-27 score but picked the wrong winner. Lucas Strozinsky and Byron Smith were each just a couple of points with their predictions (31-28 and 31-26 respectively), so they each get the tip of the cap this week.
Patrick Allen (8-2)
The Rams are an absolute mess. If Kansas City executes, there is no reason it shouldn’t run away with this game. I think they will.
Chiefs 42, Rams 13
Adam Best (6-2)
Speaking of Thanksgiving leftovers, the Chiefs get whatever is left of a Rams team with a severe Super Bowl hangover. No Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald is not quite his usual self, the Rams can’t block your little nephew, etc. The Chiefs keep rolling.
Chiefs 37, Rams 10
Matt Conner (7-3)
The Rams are closer to the Puppy Bowl than the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are closer to the post-Y2K Patriots than anyone wants them to be. Chad Henne’s going to be closing out the winner in this one.
Chiefs 31, Rams 9
Lyle Graversen (8-2)
I’m going to keep this pretty short and simple. The Rams don’t have the offensive firepower to keep pace with the Chiefs. Cooper Kupp was their offense this season and now he’s injured. They’ve still got a couple of pieces on defense, but not enough to shut KC down. The Chiefs cruise to an easy win.
Chiefs 27 Rams 13
Anthony Hatton (7-3)
Kansas City really has zero chance to lose to the Rams. This is the part of the “eff them picks” story that wasn’t told. Things have taken an ugly turn for Los Angeles this season. Playing without a quarterback or your only productive wide receiver means Sean McVay rolls out a wishbone package all game, right? All jokes aside, the Chiefs have an offense that is probably not going to be stopped by anybody but themselves. Their linebackers and defensive line could also make this a long day for the Rams’ offense.
Chiefs 33, Rams 13
Scott Loring (6-4)
The Rams have already lost as many games this year (7) as they ever have in an entire season under Sean McVay in his six-year tenure. At just 3-7, they have fallen off a cliff, and there is no objective reason to think they are anything close to a playoff contender. But they are too much of a high-profile franchise to be a trap game for anyone. The Chiefs are going to roar to a comfortable lead early and then put things into cruise control by halftime. The Rams will score some junk points in the 4th quarter, so when the clock hits zeroes, the score will look a lot closer than the game flow indicates. The Chiefs get another huge game from Isiah Pacheco, and then get some much-needed rest for some players before traveling to Cincinnati for revenge next week.
Chiefs 30, Rams 16
Ellen Mathis (9-1)
The Rams are a shell of themselves after last year’s Super Bowl win. They sold the farm and are facing the consequences of that. The Chiefs, however, are probably getting healthy at the wide receiver position with the return of JuJu and are solid on defense. If the offensive line can protect Mahomes, this game could get out of hand pretty quickly ending in a big ‘ol Chiefs victory. I don’t think the Chiefs overlook this inferior opponent, they control this game, and we are looking at another Chiefs victory.
Chiefs 42, Rams 17
Jacob Milham (8-2)
When this season started, this matchup was supposed to be a marquee game and a possible Super Bowl preview. But the wheels have fallen off the Rams’ season. The Chiefs are two-score favorites, but this game could get ugly fast. Without Stafford and Kupp, Los Angeles has no offensive firepower. The Chiefs’ defense will leave its mark on this game.
Kansas City 30, Los Angeles 10
KC Proctor (8-2)
The best of the AFC vs the reigning Super Bowl champions should have been a legendary bout. Instead, we get a championship-caliber Chiefs team vs. the Rams, featuring a mediocre Bryce Perkins, and a banged-up Allen Robinson at WR1. Sounds like a chill Sunday for Chiefs Kingdom.
Chiefs 35 Rams 13
Charles Robinson (9-1)
This has gone from a highly anticipated matchup before the season started to a game that hopefully does not end up as a trap for the Chiefs. Matthew Stafford being ruled out should eliminate pretty much any chance the Rams had of pulling off an upset at Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon. The Rams do still pose a challenge to the Chiefs’ offense as they bring in the league’s 4th-best rush defense and a top-10 unit overall, but outside of their Week 1 debacle against the Bills, the Rams have not seen an offense that can kill them in multiple ways like KC’s. Patrick Mahomes vs. Matt Stafford would have been a compelling head-to-head matchup, but we won’t see it. We won’t even get Mahomes vs. John Wolford. I guess we’ll have to settle for Mahomes vs. Bryce Perkins.
Chiefs 34, Rams 10
The Rams and Chiefs are walking into this game with similar numbers on the IR. The difference is KC has Patrick Mahomes, and he is beginning to prove he can score with any receiver, whereas the Rams will be relying on an unproven UDFA throwing to unproven wide receivers. The worst matchup for KC is Aaron Donald against anyone, but even then, I’d expect KC to have no problems.
Chiefs 35, Rams 21
The Chiefs are riding a four-game winning streak coming into Week 12. A hobbled Rams team comes into Arrowhead Stadium without two of its top offensive weapons, and the defending Super Bowl champion won’t have the horses to keep up with a surging Chiefs team. Kansas City has won 25 straight in the month of November or December. This game will get out of control in the second half and Chad Henne will get late-game snaps.
Chiefs 31, Rams 17
Lucas Strozinsky (8-2)
This should be an easy win for the Chiefs (Keyword: “should”). No Matthew Stafford. No Cooper Kupp. No offensive line. Bryce Perkins is a serious threat as a runner but combined with a less-than-stellar receiving corps, he shouldn’t light it up in the passing game. The Rams’ pass rush could cause problems, although their secondary has little chance against Kansas City’s passing game. This screams like a positive regression to the mean game statistically for the Chiefs’ defense.
Chiefs 34, Rams 10
Grant Tuttle (9-1)
Let’s face it, the Rams are the worst Super Bowl-defending team in the history of the NFL. They went from being a legitimate threat to being a team that has no real talent. That being said, the Chiefs have weird games where they struggle for odd reasons every year. I look for this to be a weird one in which the Chiefs leave the game closer than it should be.
Chiefs 27, Rams 20