KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (9-1) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-1)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:15 PM ET; Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; ESPN, Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (Field reporter)
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 7-4. Kansas City owned the Rams when they were in-state rivals, winning all six contests against the St. Louis Rams. But against the Los Angeles Rams, the Chiefs own just one win in five contests. The Rams also had better luck in the Governor's Cup, however, winning nine of 15 preseason games between the teams in Missouri from 1995 to 2015.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Rams are bracing for a shootout playing against an offense that is every bit as powerful as their own. The key is to remain true to who they are rather than get too far outside of themselves thinking they have to score points in bunches to keep up. Both teams will score points. But the Rams forcing the Chiefs to kick field goals rather than scoring touchdowns on a trip or two into the red zone will go a long way toward giving their offense a chance to create some cushion. Avoiding turnovers - while forcing some on their end - will also be critical. Expect a heavy dose of Todd Gurley II and then Jared Goff attacking the Chiefs downfield off play-action passes. The Chiefs' pass rush can be potent, and slowing it down with play-action will be vital.
The Chiefs do what they do on offense, which centers on Patrick Mahomes distributing the ball to his playmakers, and anyone can have the hot hand any given week. But this could be a big week for Sammy Watkins, who returns from a foot injury to face his former teammates. With the Rams likely to focus on Tyreek Hill, that could leave Watkins space to work, especially over the middle attacking the weakness of the Rams. Running back Kareem Hunt should also be heavily involved in the run and pass game, as the Chiefs look to score early and often.
The injury to wide receiver Cooper Kupp should allow the Chiefs defense to turn more attention to Todd Gurley, particularly as a receiver out of the backfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Rams CB Marcus Peters vs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs move their receivers around, but the marquee matchup revolves around anytime the former teammates line up across from one another. Both players appeared headed in opposite directions this season with Hill averaging 89 yards receiving and a touchdown per game. Peters, however, allows a passer rating of 143.7 on balls thrown his direction this season.
--Chiefs OLB Dee Ford vs. Rams RT Rob Havenstein. Ford leads the Chiefs with nine sacks, heading toward a career year in a contract season. But Ford needs to set the edge in this game as much as rushing Jared Goff in making an impact in the run game. The Chiefs need Ford and Justin Houston to contain Todd Gurley II from breaking runs to the outside.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Rams WR Josh Reynolds is in his second year and has played in 26 games with three starts. He will be thrust into the spotlight after a season-ending injury to Cooper Kupp and will be expected to step up. Through Week 10 of 2018, he has caught seven passes for 98 yards (14.0 average), with two touchdowns. The Texas A&M product has also rushed the ball twice for a total of eight yards this season. In his career, Reynolds has posted 202 yards on 18 receptions with three total touchdowns.
FAST FACTS: CHIEFS QB PATRICK MAHOMES completed 21 of 28 (75 pct.) for 249 yards with 2 TDs vs 0 INTs for 125.4 rating last week. Leads NFL with 31 TD passes & surpassed HOFer LEN DAWSON (30 TD passes in 1964) for most in single season in franchise history. Aims for his 5th in row on road with 300+ pass yards & has 100+ rating in 4 of his past 5 on road. Aims for his 6th in row with 110+ rating. ... RB KAREEM HUNT had 96 scrimmage yards (71 rush, 25 rec.) last week. Since entering league in 2017, is 1 of 2 NFL players (TODD GURLEY II) with 2,000+ rush yards (2,081). ... WR TYREEK HILL had 7 catches for 117 yards & 2 TDs last week. Has 7 TDs (6 rec., 1 PR-TD) in 5 road games in 2018. Is only NFL player with 800+ rec. yards (891) & 8+ TD catches (9) this season. ... WR SAMMY WATKINS had 39 catches for 593 yards & 8 TDs in 15 games with Rams in 2017. ... TE TRAVIS KELCE has 3 TD catches in his past 3. ... LB DEE FORD has 5 sacks & 3 FFs in his past 4. ... LB JUSTIN HOUSTON had INT in Week 10. ... DT CHRIS JONES had 2 sacks & FF last week. ... RAMS QB JARED GOFF ranks 2nd in NFL in pass yards (3,134) & 3rd in TD passes (22) in 2018. Passed for 318 yards with 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 113 rating last week. Aims for 5th in row with 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating. ... RB TODD GURLEY II had 160 scrimmage yards (120 rush, 40 rec.) & rush TD in Week 10. Has TD in all 10 games in 2018 & joined HOFers O.J. SIMPSON, LENNY MOORE & ELROY "CRAZY LEGS" HIRSCH as only players in NFL history with TD in each of team's 1st 10 games to start season. Leads NFL with 1,390 scrimmage yards, 988 rush yards & 17 TDs. ... WR BRANDIN COOKS had 10 receptions for 100 yards last week. Aims for his 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards. ... DT AARON DONALD leads NFL with 12.5 sacks & 16 TFL. Had 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL & 5 QBHs in Week 10. Has 7 games with 2+ sacks since 2016, tied for most in NFL over span (CALAIS CAMPBELL). ... LB DANTE FOWLER JR. had sack, FF & FR last week. ... CB MARCUS PETERS had 19 INTs in 3 seasons with KC (2015-17). In his past 3 on Monday, has 2 INTs, incl. 50-yard INT-TD, 2 FFs & FR.
PREDICTION: Whether in Mexico City or Los Angeles, this game is ready for prime time. The NFL has had 15 games this season where both teams scored at least 30 points. It would be surprising is this isn't another.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 38-35