For weeks, NFL fans have eagerly anticipated Monday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, and now it’s finally here. Kickoff is set for 8:15 EST on Monday, November 19, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The NFL originally scheduled the game to be played in Mexico City. But the venue changed due to poor field conditions. The game can be seen nationally on ESPN.
According to the Week 11 NFL odds, the Rams are 2.5-point favorites at home. That line has increased a little after it was announced that the game would be played in Los Angeles. The over/under for the game is an ambitious 63.5 points.
The Rams suffered their first loss of the season just a couple of weeks ago, falling to the Saints 45-35. However, they were able to bounce back last week with a win over the Seahawks. For the second time this season, Seattle gave them a competitive game, but the Rams were able to hold on at the end and get back on the winning track.
At 9-1, the Rams are just a couple of wins away from officially clinching the NFC West. However, given their lost to New Orleans, they are more focused on trying to overtake the Saints for the top seed in the NFC. To make that happen, the Rams will have to keep winning and hope the Saints slip up at some point. With that in mind, it’s unlikely Los Angeles is going to take their foot off the gas at any point.
As for the Chiefs, they still have to worry about the Chargers being hot on their tail in the AFC West. Kansas City’s close loss to the Patriots is now far in their rearview mirror, as the Chiefs have since rattled off four straight wins. However, the 7-2 Chargers remain remarkably close to the 9-1 Chiefs.
Kansas City knows that if they relax and lose a game or two that they could end up losing out on the division and settling for a wild-card spot. The Chiefs are also about to head into their bye week. Surely, they don’t want to spend the next two weeks thinking about a loss, so they should be laser-focused for Monday’s game just as much as the Rams.
This game really should be a straight up PK. Moving the game to Los Angeles shouldn’t be a huge factor because the Chiefs obviously haven’t been bothered by playing on the road this season. Both teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and given how close they are on paper, I feel a little more comfortable taking the Chiefs as the underdog.
To be honest, we could spend all day talking about how great both of these teams are on the offensive side of the ball. In a sense, both teams cancel each other out with regard to what they can do offensively. The team that wins this game is going to be the team that can force a turnover or gets a stop on defense in a big spot.
Right now, the Los Angeles defense is moving in the wrong direction. They looked good early in the season, albeit against bad teams, but that has not carried over into November. Over their last three games, the Rams are giving up 34 points per game. You can argue that they’ve played great offensive teams during that span, but that’s exactly what they’ll be up against on Monday night.
The biggest strength the Rams have on their defense is their pass rush. Aaron Donald is having another outstanding season, and the addition of Dante Fowler Jr. has helped as well. However, the Chiefs have only allowed Patrick Mahomes to be sacked 17 times this season, and five of those came mysteriously last week against the Cardinals when the Chiefs may have been looking ahead a little.
It’s not that the Kansas City offensive line is impermeable, it’s that Mahomes is athletic and elusive. When he’s faced other teams with quality pass rushes, Mahomes has been able to use his legs to evade pressure, keep his eyes downfield, and create big plays. Given some of the issues the Rams have had in their secondary the last few weeks, that’s a real concern for the L.A. defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs also have an outstanding pass rush that will be tested against a team that doesn’t give up a lot of sacks. Jared Goff has been sacked just 19 times this season, with Todd Gurley and the rushing attack being a big reason why. Opposing teams can’t go all-out with their pass rush knowing what a threat Gurley is running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield.
Stopping the run has been a problem for the Chiefs all season. They can expect a heavy dose of Gurley until they prove that they can stop him, which seems unlikely for a guy averaging 99 yards rushing per game. The only silver lining for the Chiefs is that if they can force the Rams into passing situations, Goff will have one less receiver at his disposal with Cooper Kupp suffering a season-ending injury last week.
All things considered, I think Mahomes’ ability to use his legs could be the difference in the game. Kansas City’s pass rush is perhaps a tiny bit better, especially when you factor in the Rams having to chase Mahomes around the field. It’s not much, but when the teams are this close, it’s enough for me to lean toward the Chiefs.