Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rams vs. Chiefs: Pre-Game Package

The Rams are about to enter a very important game. The three game road trip was their first major test, which they passed after winning two out of those three games. Their next test will be this Sunday against Kansas City, possibly the most difficult team remaining on their schedule.

The Rams really didn't stand a chance against the New Orleans Saints; as I mentioned in my Rams @ Saints pre-game article, the Rams just didn't match up well with New Orleans. They have a weak secondary, which was easily exposed by the Saints' potent air attack.

The Saints also entered that game with the top ranked pass defense in the NFL. Typically, the Rams are able to win games when their passing game flows with ease, but the solid Saints' secondary prevented that from happening. So between the passing game getting shut down, and the Rams' weak secondary, they just didn't match up very well.

This Sunday should be the exact opposite. The Chiefs are a solid team, but the Rams' strengths certainly match up well with the Chiefs as a whole.

The Chiefs are a run first team, and they can absolutely kill teams with big plays on the ground. However, the Rams have a solid run defense. If the Rams can shut down the Chiefs' rushing attack, then the Chiefs will have no life to their offense.

Of course that is easier said than done, but it's not like the Chiefs have been facing power house run defenses all season. Here are the Chiefs' 2010 opponents that rank in the bottom ten of the NFL in run defense: Denver (31st) twice, Indianapolis (29th), Oakland (26th), Cleveland (23rd), and of course Buffalo (dead last at 32nd). So six out of their thirteen games this season have been against teams that rank in the bottom ten in run defense. They even lost to three of those teams (Oakland, Denver, and Indianapolis). They were also forced to go into overtime with Buffalo, who has the worst run defense in the NFL.
The Rams must stop the Chiefs' solid ground game.

So given that Oakland, Indy, Denver, and Buffalo were not slaughtered by the Kansas City run game, it is hard for me to believe that the Rams' 12th ranked run defense will be blown away. Mix that with their quarterback's questionable injury status, and the K.C. offense is not very scary.

Quarterback Matt Cassel had his appendix removed, and he was forced to miss the Chiefs' game last week against San Diego (which they lost 31-0). Cassel is a limited participant in practice this week, and his status is considered day-to-day. Even if Cassel does play, the chance of his abilities being limited are great.

As far as the Chiefs' defense is concerned, their run defense ranks right in the middle at 15th. This means that Steven Jackson won't be able to run wild, but he certainly will not be shut down. The Kansas City run defense is pretty equal to the New Orleans run defense as far as ranking go, and New Orleans' ability to stop the run last week was hardly the problem for the Rams, as Jackson rushed for 96 years with a 6 yards per carry average.

The Kansas City pass defense (22nd) is just as bad as the Rams' (21st), and we know how bad the Rams' pass defense can be. This is very good news for the Rams, as they are often able to win games when their passing game is working. If Danario Alexander can step up and have another big day, then the Rams have a chance to make some huge plays through the air.

This Sunday is a big game, one of the biggest in recent Rams' history. If the Rams lose, then they are in a sudden-death situation for the remainder of the season. If they win, then they will have a great shot at winning the NFC West. In fact, if they win on Sunday, and beat San Francisco the following week, then that should just about clinch the division.

PREDICTION: Rams 31  Chiefs 20


Sam Bradford474286288417
Steven Jackson27610813.94
Kenneth Darby3310032
Danny Amendola685678.33
Brandon Gibson4449211.22

Matt Cassel354212250323
Brodie Croyle177400
Jamaal Charles19211776.13
Thomas Jones19076645
Dwayne Bowe5988815.114
Tony Moeaki3845111.93

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