Kansas City @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas: LAR -3.5
DomModel: LAR +0.157
Recommendation: KC +3.5
**Editors note (I’m JK, there is no editor). Though this game was originally scheduled to play in Mexico, it has moved back to Los Angeles since the field in Mexico is a fuck show. As such, the model has home field advantage for the Rams baked in.
I am writing about the best football game of the year and a 3.5 point hook. We’re doing football boners, folks.
That is all
Kansas City Chiefs:
-WR Sammy Watkins (foot) was INACTIVE week 10. On Thursday (11/15), Ian Rapoport reported that Watkins will return week 11. He was limited in practice on Thursday, but did NOT practice Friday (11/16) or Saturday (11/17). The late week downgrade is a concern.
-C Mitch Morse (concussion) was injured during his week 6 game and was INACTIVE weeks 7 – 10. He did not practice on Friday (11/16) or Saturday (11/17).
-RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif fractured his fibula during his week 5 game and did not return. HC Andy Reid said he isn’t done for the year, but he’ll miss time (likely around 8 weeks).
-C/G Jordan Devey (pectoral) was placed on IR.
-S Eric Berry is till recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered week 1 of last year. He has not practiced or played this year.
Los Angeles Rams:
-WR Cooper Kupp (torn ACL) was injured week 10. He is done for the year.
-CB Aqib Talib suffered a high ankle sprain during week 3 and was then placed on IR. He should be back in Decemberish.
Neither team has been posting their injury reports on their team websites. Find the latest (as of Friday) here.
When Kansas City has the ball:
We bet on the Chiefs virtually every week, so there isn’t much to say that I haven’t already said. Here is a quick reminder:
Offensive line: Medicore. Eric Fisher (LT) and Cam Erving (LG) have struggled on the left side, while Mitchell Schwartz (RT) has allowed an incredibly low 8 pressures on the season.
Running back: Ever hear of Kareem Hunt? He lead the league in rushing last year. No big deal. This year, he has a cool 754 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. He also jumps over people.
Receivers: TyFREAK Hill, who runs faster than many animals that cheat and use all four of their limbs to move. Travis Kelce, who has been the best receiving tight end in the league this year. Sammy Watkins has been the third option, but there’s a legit question if he’ll play. Ian Rappaport reported Thursday that he will, and normally I treat Ian news as if it’s fact, but it’s concerning that Watkins did not practice on Friday or Saturday. It’s possible something happened at practice AFTER Rap’s report. We’ll have to monitor it, but I’m comfortable with this bet regardless.
Quarterback: Pat god damn Mahomes. He does things like this:
His arm was made in a lab by mad football scientists.
Los Angeles’s defense:
The Rams defense the last three games: 27 points against the Packers, 45 against the Saints, and 31 against the Seahawks. Granted, those are three elite quarterbacks — but we already know who they have this week.
The story on the Rams is they actually pretty decently against the pass. It starts with the best player in football — Aaron Donald — who rushes the passer from the inside and gets double teamed more than a ménage à trois porn actress. Despite this, he leads the league in both pressures (67) and sacks (13). They did take a blow from a pure coverage standpoint after losing Aqib Talib, and CB Marcus Peters has been a massive disappointment. That said, Nickell Robey-Coleman — a nickel corner literally named Nickell — plays well in the slot. Meanwhile, Lamarcus Joyner and John Johnson III man the safety positions, and both excel in coverage.
Their problem is against the run, despite Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. The Rams rank 29th in run defense DVOA and give up a healthy 5.2 yards per carry.
TL;DR Conclusion: I don’t know why I wasted your time talking about the Rams defense, there is no stopping Pat Mahomes.
When Los Angeles has the ball:
The Rams offense, lead by offensive mastermind/wizard/iodic memory having Sean McVay, runs fucking train. They are either the best or second best offense in the league, depending on who you ask (Football Outsiders says Chiefs, PFF says Rams). They excel everywhere — former 1st overall pick Jared Goff is putting up dazzling numbers, he’s already at 3,134 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 6 picks. If you watch the tape, you’re going to be constantly impressed with the throws he’s capable of making. He isn’t just a system QB. The Rams offensive line is also one of the best in football, both at run blocking and pass protection. At running back is all pro Todd Gurley, who is putting up the type of numbers that even 2006 Ladainian Tomlinson would admire. Then there’s receiver, which used to feature a three headed monster of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp. Oh, Cooper..
Yeah, I say used to because Kupp tore his ACL last week, and that’s an underrated loss to the Rams. McVay uses his offensive weapons to perfection, each player being an important chess piece. Losing any one of them is key, because they all play virtually every snap and there just isn’t another player on the team that can replace what they do.
The Rams play 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers) personnel on virtually every snap. Due to the 3 receivers being on the field, as well as an excellent pass catching back, teams will typically match the Rams with nickel and dime defenses (5 or 6 defensive backs, respectfully). The Rams also use a ton of bunch formations, allowing them to use their receivers as blockers on run plays. At 6’2/208, Kupp is an important piece, both as an outstanding slot receiver and downfield blocker.
Replacing Kupp will be Josh Reynolds, who has stepped in to play virtually every snap in the Rams two previous Kuppless games. Quite simply, Reynolds has to fill a massive role that Kupp leaves behind, and he isn’t nearly the same player. That makes the Kupp injury news a bigger blow to the Rams than a normal slot receiver injury would be for any other team.
Kansas City’s defense:
The Chiefs defense tells separate stories: they rank dead last in run defense DVOA, but 12th in pass defense DVOA.
Let’s start with the pass defense. Their pass rush is lead by Dee Ford, who already has 10 sacks on the year. For coverage, I’ve knocked the Chiefs corners previously, but a close look shows they’re getting better as the year goes on. They’ll feature Steve Nelson, Kendall Fuller, and Orlando Scandrick at corner vs the Rams pass heavy formations. At safety, they are still without Eric Berry, but Eric Murray has stepped up in his third year.
There’s just nothing nice to say about their run defense, so I won’t say anything at all. My mother will be proud.
TL:DR Conclusion: Kupp is a big blow to the Rams offense, but they should still have no trouble moving the ball against the Chiefs. In particular, the Rams run blocking line and Todd Gurley vs the Chiefs run defense is a total mismatch.
Both teams have key WR injuries, both Watkins at least has a chance to play, and Kupp is far more valuable to what the Rams do.
In the end, the model thinks this game should be about a pick em, so you better believe we’re grabbing the team with the 3.5 point hook.
I will end with a picture of Patrick Lavon Mahomes II throwing a football 80 yards (I assume).
That’s it for now, bitches.