LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sean McVay has looked up to Andy Reid for years. The Los Angeles Rams’ young coach constantly studies video of his Kansas City counterpart’s offensive sets during the season, marveling at their intricacies and ingenuity.
“Every single week they do something where you say, ‘That’s pretty good,’” McVay said with an understated smile. “I’d be lying if I said we haven’t stolen some of their stuff this year.”
McVay gets a close-up look Monday night in one of the biggest games of the regular season and a possible Super Bowl preview.
The Chiefs (9-1) are visiting the Rams (9-1) in a game originally scheduled for Mexico City before poor field conditions at Azteca Stadium prompted the NFL to move the game to California on six days’ notice.
Instead, the Coliseum will host a meeting of two prolific offenses masterminded by coaches separated by 28 years of age, but shoulder-to-shoulder on the cutting edge of football.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” said Reid, a Los Angeles native who lives in Orange County in the offseason. “He came up through a good system. He’s put his own flair to it. He’s a smart kid. I am proud of him for the job he’s done.”
Two offenses averaging 33 points per game have never met this late in a regular season, and the game is only the fifth meeting since 1970 between two one-loss or unbeaten teams in Week 11 or later.
Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in yards passing with Jared Goff in second. The backfields contain Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt, last season’s NFL rushing champion, and Todd Gurley, the current runaway leader in the category.
Offensive fireworks seem inevitable in a matchup tailor-made for prime time, even if the late venue switch caused logistical hurdles for ESPN . Both teams expressed disappointment about the game being moved out of Mexico City, even though McVay said it was “clearly the right thing to do” given the field conditions.
“We’re certainly not going to complain about getting the chance to play at the Coliseum in front of a great atmosphere,” McVay said.
ON THE MOVE
The late change of venue ruined a big night for thousands of Mexican fans and thrilled Rams fans who will get an eighth home game to cheer, but it had little effect on either team’s preparation. The Rams planned to spend the week in Colorado Springs to prepare for Mexico City’s altitude, and they decided to stay anyway — partly because several players and coaches wouldn’t be able to return to their homes this week because of wildfires surrounding the towns near the Rams’ training complex. The Chiefs merely altered their travel plans to take them west instead of south. “We really haven’t had to change much, other than going to a hotel in Los Angeles,” Reid said.
The Chiefs should have WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and LB Anthony Hitchens (ribs) on the field against the Rams. Neither played last week against Arizona, though Hitchens was active in what Reid called “an emergency situation.” Undrafted rookie Ben Niemann got the start in Hitchens’ place and performed reasonably well. Watkins is returning to the Coliseum, where he spent last season as the Rams’ deep threat before getting a huge free-agent deal with the Chiefs.
Mahomes spent part of the week mourning the death of his longtime girlfriend’s stepfather. The man had a medical emergency during their game against Arizona last Sunday, and Mahomes learned after leading Kansas City to a 26-14 victory that he had died. The Chiefs were off Tuesday and Wednesday, giving Mahomes time to spend with family, but he did not miss any practice time. “They’ve got some things organized and settled down from that side of it,” Reid said, “so he can do what he’s got to do.”
Rams CB Marcus Peters spent his first three NFL seasons with Kansas City, making the Pro Bowl twice and establishing himself as an elite defender with 19 interceptions.
But the Chiefs traded Peters to Los Angeles last offseason, and Reid has been reluctant to talk about why the organization gave up on the talented, occasionally volatile cornerback. Peters has generally played well in LA, although he acknowledged that he struggled two weeks ago when the Rams went up against the NFL’s other dominant offense at New Orleans. The Rams haven’t had any evident problems with Peters off the field, either. “He’s got a good feel for the game,” McVay said. “He’s passionate about it, and I think that I’ve been able to learn some things from him and enjoy being around him.”
The Chiefs allowed five sacks last week against Arizona, the first time all season that their hodgepodge offensive line has struggled that much. That’s not a good sign when the next opponent has NFL sacks leader Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line.
The Chiefs have been playing without C Mitch Morse (concussion) and RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (broken leg), forcing them to shuffle things around.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — KANSAS CITY (9-1) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-1)
Monday, 7:20 p.m. ESPN
OPENING LINE — Rams by 1
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Kansas City 8-2-0, Los Angeles 4-5-1
SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 7-4
LAST MEETING — Chiefs beat Rams, 34-7, Oct. 26, 2014
LAST WEEK — Chiefs beat Cardinals, 26-14; Rams beat Seahawks, 36-31
CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (13), PASS (4).
CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (23), PASS (28).
RAMS OFFENSE — OVERALL (2), RUSH (2), PASS (5).
RAMS DEFENSE — OVERALL (13), RUSH (24), PASS (11).
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Marquee showdown was moved from Mexico City to LA Coliseum six days before game due to poor quality of field at Azteca Stadium. ... First meeting in NFL history this late in season between two teams averaging 33 points per game. ... Fifth meeting since 1970 between two teams with one or fewer losses in Week 11 or later. ... Chiefs have scored 353 points, tops in NFL. Rams have 335, second in league. Only New Orleans (36.7) is averaging more points per game. ... Kansas City has won six straight vs. Rams. ... Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes leads NFL in yards passing (3,150). Rams QB Jared Goff is second (3,134). ... Mahomes set Chiefs record with NFL-best 31st TD pass of season last week. Len Dawson had held record since 1964. ... Mahomes has best TD-INT differential in NFL at plus-24 (31 TDs, 7 INTs). ... Mahomes had streak of eight straight 300-yard passing games end last week vs. Cardinals. ... Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins expected to play after missing last week with foot injury. He spent last season with Rams in role currently filled by Brandin Cooks. ... RB Kareem Hunt leads NFL with 514 touches since last fumble. ... Reigning NFL rushing champion Hunt became first player since Abner Haynes in 1960-61 with 1,000 yards rushing in first two seasons last week vs. Cardinals. ... Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt has just 28 punts. ... Andy Reid, Chiefs’ Los Angeles-born coach, needs two wins to match Marty Schottenheimer (205) for seventh in NFL history. Reid needs six to match Chuck Noll for sixth. ... Chiefs DT Chris Jones has sack in six straight games. ... Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill has career-best seven receiving TDs. ... Chiefs LB Dee Ford has nine sacks this season. ... Rams stayed in high-altitude Colorado Springs for week of prep even after game was moved. Team flew out families of players affected by wildfires back home in Thousand Oaks. ... RB Todd Gurley leads NFL in scoring (108 points), yards rushing (988), carries (198), yards from scrimmage (1,390) and touchdowns (17). He has scored touchdown in 13 consecutive games, extending own franchise record. ... Rams CB Marcus Peters spent first three NFL seasons with Chiefs before moving to LA last offseason. Rams LB Ramik Wilson also spent last three seasons with KC. ... Rams DT Aaron Donald leads NFL with 12 1-2 sacks, already career best. ... Fantasy tip: With Rams WR Cooper Kupp out for season with knee injury, his playing time could go to Josh Reynolds. Second-year pro has been stuck lower on depth chart, but already has two TD catches this season.
MINNESOTA (5-3-1) at CHICAGO (6-3)
We soon will find out if the Bears are for real. They are on top of the NFC North, now face the defending division winners, then in a ridiculously short turnaround from Sunday night, they play the early Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit. They also have the Rams and Packers on the road in December.
Two of the NFL’s stingiest and most physical defenses should be main factors Sunday.
Minnesota has allowed an average of only 252.5 yards over last four games, winning three. It did so missing some starters. Safety Harrison Smith likes seeing the Bears: Smith has four interceptions and six passes defended in 10 career games vs. Chicago.
Chicago dropped 10 in a row against the NFC North before beating Detroit last Sunday. It leads the NFL with 16 interceptions, and ranks second with 24 takeaways.
HOUSTON (6-3) at WASHINGTON (6-3)
Two also-rans of 2017 now leading their divisions.
The Texans have won six in a row and come off a bye. Key personnel such as DE J.J. Watt and QB Deshaun Watson were injured last year and are now playing at peak efficiency.
If Watson gets time to throw — Houston has surrendered 30 sacks — DeAndre Hopkins will be the biggest challenge to cover. He has four games with 10-plus catches, 100-plus yards and a touchdown through the air. That’s most in the league since the start of 2017, and Hopkins has five TD catches over the past four games. .
Washington has showed some balance on offense, but the defense has been a major factor in its strong year. It has forced a turnover in 13 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak.
TENNESSEE (5-4) at INDIANAPOLIS (4-5)
Suddenly, there’s a race in the AFC South, and the Colts could get even more involved with a fourth consecutive victory. But the Titans, coming off their best game by far in an upset of the Patriots, have won six straight within the division.
Of course, Andrew Luck was not in the lineup for any of those; Luck is 9-0 in starts against Tennessee.
“I’m aware of it,” Luck says. “But what’s happened has happened, and good, bad or ugly, it doesn’t really matter.”
The Titans have the league’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing 16.8 points a game, and have yielded a league-low 16 touchdowns.
PHILADELPHIA (4-5) at NEW ORLEANS (8-1)
New Orleans looks like the NFL’s top team right now, and the Eagles don’t resemble their title-winning squad of last season.
Injuries are damaging Philly’s defense at a really bad time. A banged-up secondary takes on Drew Brees and his assortment of helpers. The Saints have scored at least 40 points in five games this season, the third team in NFL history to score 40 in five of the first nine. Brees is completing 77.1 percent of his passes, has thrown for 21 TDs with one interception, and has a 123.8 passer rating.
Michael Thomas is tied for the NFL lead with 78 catches, ranks second with 950 yards, while Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram form a formidable and versatile backfield.
PITTSBURGH (6-2-1) at JACKSONVILLE (3-6)
The Steelers will be wise to look forward and not back at their last encounter with the Jaguars. Jacksonville beat Pittsburgh twice last season, including a 45-42 playoff shocker at Heinz Field.
Thinking revenge would be foolish because the Steelers are on a roll. Well, so are the Jags: Pittsburgh has won five in a row, Jacksonville has dropped that many consecutively.
Steelers running back James Conner has not allowed the team to regret the contract impasse that has led to Le’Veon Bell sitting out the season. Conner is the eighth player in team history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns, leads the AFC in rushing, and is expected to play after being placed in concussion protocol following last week’s win over Carolina.
CINCINNATI (5-4) at BALTIMORE (4-5)
Cincinnati brings a historically leaky defense to Baltimore, which might be without regular quarterback Joe Flacco (hip). That would mean either first-round pick Lamar Jackson or veteran Robert Griffin III will try to further expose that Bengals unit.
The Bengals have won eight of the last 10 in the series, but they fired first-year defensive coordinator Teryl Austin after a 51-14 loss to the Saints, the second-most points allowed in franchise history. They became the first team in the Super Bowl era to give up 500 yards in three straight games and are on pace to give up an NFL-record 7,273 yards.
Head coach Marvin Lewis takes over defensive coordinator duties, too.
DALLAS (4-5) at ATLANTA (4-5)
The Falcons appeared ready to take a role in the playoff race with three successive wins. Then, they put forth a stinker at Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys seemed headed toward irrelevance before they went into Philadelphia and outplayed the Super Bowl champions.
Dallas will want to run with Zeke Elliott, who’s second in the NFL in rushing behind Gurley after gaining 151 yards against the Eagles. Atlanta will want to throw: Matt Ryan has seven games with a QB rating over 100 and six games with more than 300 yards passing, while Julio Jones became the fastest player in NFL history with more than 10,000 yards receiving.
CAROLINA (6-3) at DETROIT (3-6)
Both teams would like to forget last week’s poor performances.
Carolina leads this infrequent series 6-2 and remains in good position in the wild-card race with a victory. Detroit needs an immediate turnaround to get into contention.
If this is close, expect Cam Newton and Co. to win. Since 2013, the Panthers are 26-14 in games decided by seven points or fewer. They have won five straight games decided by three or fewer.
Newton has thrown at least two TD passes in eight straight games, the longest streak in franchise history.
DENVER (3-6) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-2)
While the Rams grab the headlines in LA, the Chargers keep grabbing victories. They could get help in the AFC West if their neighbors knock off KC, too.
The Chargers are a league-best 13-3 since Week 9 of last season. Their six-game winning streak marks the 11th time since the merger they had a streak of six or more. Philip Rivers has thrown for two or more TDs in nine straight games. Only five quarterbacks in league history have a string of 10 or more games.
TAMPA BAY (3-6) at NEW YORK GIANTS (2-7)
Saturday’s Notre Dame-Syracuse matchup in the New York area figures to be more fun than this, although the Bucs usually pile up the yards in passing offense and the Giants come off a stirring Eli Manning-led comeback win.
Tampa has lost three in row and six of seven, while New York broke a five-game slide on Monday night. Bucs wideouts Mike Evans (13 catches for 217 yards and a TD in two games) and DeSean Jackson (five touchdowns in the last six games) have feasted on the Giants’ defense.
OAKLAND (1-8) at ARIZONA (2-7)
The lowest-ranked teams in the AP Pro32 face off with the Cardinals coming off a solid effort at Kansas City. The Raiders? They seem to have fallen into the Black Hole, outscored 54-9 in the last two games.
Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald needs eight receptions to surpass Jerry Rice for the most catches for one team.