The 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs:
The 2018 NFL season for the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs, led by head coach Andy Reid and second-year quarterback phenom Patrick Mahomes, has basically gone like this: 5-0, almost beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, then 4-0.
Only two other teams average more total offense than the Chiefs, who put up 423.1 yards from scrimmage per game – only problem is, one of those teams is the Los Angeles Rams.
Kansas City is 4-1 on the road, but the Rams are undefeated at home and have a much better defense than the Chiefs, so it will be up to Kansas City’s first-year offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to figure out how to outscore a Los Angeles team that’s in a better position to win.
The 9-1 Los Angeles Rams:
The 9-1 Los Angeles Rams spent Week 10 taking care of their closest NFC West competition, the now 5-5 Seattle Seahawks, by a score of 36-31, so now the Rams are 5-0 at home and 4-0 in their division.
The only game the Rams have lost was in Week 9 to the kings of the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints, 35-45, but even that game was hard fought and could have gone either way.
The combination of head coach Sean McVay’s last minute audibles and third-year Pro-Bowl quarterback Jared Goff’s consistent execution of said-audibles has turned deadly, and into 33.5 points and 448.0 total yards per game plus nine wins.
A Rams’ tenth win is a distinct possibility against Kansas City’s much weaker defense.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 11 times, with Los Angeles winning 4 games and Kansas City winning 7 games. The Chiefs have won the last six meetings in a row.
If the Chiefs win this matchup, they’ll move to 10-1 and stay at atop the AFC West and at least 2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers.
But if the Rams come out on top, they’ll be 10-1 and continue their dominance of the NFC West with at least a four-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this Week 11 Chiefs-Rams matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Chiefs and the Rams and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Chiefs offense is powerful
Mahomes is young, but he’s definitely catching on, as his offense makes up for the Chiefs’ weaker defense by putting up 35.2 points per game while averaging a league-leading 6.9 yards per play.
The 23-year-old Mahomes has thrown for the most yards (3,150) and for the most touchdowns (31) in the NFL this season, justifying general manager Brett Veach’s all-in on Mahomes after trading away veteran Alex Smith in the offseason, the starter who had just taken the Chiefs to the playoffs.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is ranked sixth in total receiving yards with 891, while tight end Travis Kelce is ranked 12th with 787.
Hunt is an effective dual threat
Kareem Hunt, All-Rookie last season, is the fourth most productive running back in the league with 754 yards on the ground so far this season after touching the ball 167 times.
Hunt has caught 23-for-31 passes for 337 yards, averaging 14.7 yards per reception.
So far, Hunt has a total of 13 touchdowns, 7 on the ground and 6 through the air.
Kansas City offensive Injuries
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) had limited practice on Thursday and is listed as questionable for Week 11.
Center Mitch Morse (concussion) did not practice on Thursday and is listed as questionable for Week 11.
The 2018 Rams offense tops all around
What’s it like to have the NFL’s 2nd ranked quarterback (Jared Goff), the league’s 1st ranked running back (Todd Gurley) and two top-ten wide receivers (Brandin Cooks, 8th & Robert Woods, 10th)?
It doesn’t seem fair, and nine weeks out of the last ten, it hasn’t been, with the Rams not even losing a game until Week 9, and that was an away game against a Saints team that also seems bound for the Super Bowl.
They’re taking on an equally matched Chiefs’ offense, though – both teams are ranked in the top three for total points, points per game, total yards per game and yards per play.
Gurley has two engines
First-team All-Pro running back Todd Gurley is effective on the ground and through the air, and his Week 10 stats are off the charts.
As a running back, Gurley has 198 rushes for 988 yards with a league-leading 13 touchdowns and zero fumbles.
As a receiver, Gurley is 40-for-53 for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns, which works out to this: he catches 75.5 percent of balls thrown at him for an average of 10.1 yards per reception.
Los Angeles offensive Injuries
A big blow to the Rams’ offense is the loss of wide receiver Cooper Kupp (torn ACL) who is listed as out for Week 11.
Wide receiver and All-Pro returner Pharoh Cooper (ankle), who was placed on injured reserve in Week 2, was designated to return from IR on Tuesday.
Coach Sean McVay told the media that Cooper would be “physically able to play right now,” but made no mention of when he’ll actually be returned to the 53-man roster.
Chiefs Defense ranks 29th in the league
The Chiefs’ defense allows opponents to score 24 points per game and to gain an average of 410.7 total yards per game while ranking 28th against the pass and 22nd against the run.
However, they do put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, ranking fourth in total interceptions (11) and tying for the second most sacks with 31.
Chiefs Defensive Players to watch:
Inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens has 80 combined tackles (ranked 5th) with 6 of those for a loss, plus a quarterback hit.
Outside linebacker Dee Ford is tied for fourth most sacks in the league with 9.0, along with 4 forced fumbles, 30 combined tackles, 20 quarterback hits and a pass defended.
Cornerback Steven Nelson is tied for fifth most interceptions (3), and he has 38 combined tackles (2 for loss) and 9 passes defended.
Safety Eric Berry (heel) did not practice on Thursday and is listed as questionable for Week 11.
Rams Defense is 13th overall
The Los Angeles Rams defense only allows opponents to score 23.1 points and gain 355.2 total yards per game while being a top-ten team against the pass but a 23rd ranked team against the run.
The Rams’ defense has picked off 7 passes (T-17th) while sacking opponents’ quarterbacks 26 times (T-10th), so they should be able to keep Mahomes on his toes during this matchup.
Mahomes has thrown 7 interceptions and has been sacked 17 times,
Rams Defensive Players to watch:
Inside linebacker Cory Littleton has 83 combined tackles, fourth most in the league, along with 3.0 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, 9 passes defended and an interception.
Arguably the best defensive player in the league, All-Pro end Aaron Donald has the most sacks in the league, 12.5, and he’s combined for 34 tackles (16 for loss), 26 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries and a pass defended.
Safety John Johnson is tied for fifth most interceptions (3) and has 63 combined tackles, 2 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 8 passes defended.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Kansas City’s 14-year veteran punter, Dustin Colquitt, has been a Chief his whole career and so far, he’s punted 28 times for a net average of 41.4 yards per punt, ranked sixth in the league.
L.A.’s veteran punter, Johnny Hekker, was First-team All-Pro last season and has punted 25 times but for a net average of 40.2 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the NFL.
Kansas City’s placekicker, Harrison Butker, was an All-Rookie last season and so far he’s 16-for-17, his longest was a 46-yarder. He has missed two extra point attempts (41/43).
L.A.’s placekicker, Greg Zuerlin, was First-team All-Pro last season but due to a groin injury he’s missed five games this season. Zuerlin is now back in the lineup, and so far he’s 14-for-16, his longest a 56-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (14/14).
Kansas City’s punt returner, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, is ranked 9th in the league in return average. He’s returned 14 punts for 175 yards and a touchdown, averaging 12.5 yards per return, his longest for 91 yards and a touchdown.
L.A.’s punt returner, wide receiver JoJo Natson, is ranked 5th in the league in return average. He’s returned 16 punts for 230 yards, averaging 14.4 yards per return, his longest for 60 yards.
Chiefs–Rams prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Rams favored over the Chiefs by 3.5 with an over/under of 63.0.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the over and has it Rams 40, Chiefs 34.
John Breech takes the over and predicts it Chiefs 40, Rams 37.