The Chiefs and Rams are currently walking different paths in 2022. The Rams seem to have one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers, while the Chiefs have their eyes set on getting back to the Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Rams finally got over the hump after six seasons of contention in the NFC, they constantly ran into problems with their offense, their roster, or injuries. But finally, after a blockbuster trade for Matt Stafford, the Rams reached the mountaintop and held their Lombardi Trophy.
Riding off of the high of the Lombardi win, the Rams front office doubled down, bringing back Aaron Donald and Matt Stafford on huge contract extensions, and signing wide receiver Allen Robinson and linebacker Bobby Wagner to help fix the holes left by players leaving in free agency. At the time it seemed like the Rams were going to cakewalk to a second Lombardi, they kept their core and added talented pieces to a championship roster, but they have hit the wall.
The Rams have had one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers in recent memory, maybe the worst ever. The team has had to deal with tons of injuries, a lack of quality offensive line starters, and an inconsistent defense. Los Angeles still has the bones of a good team, but the injuries and lack of depth at certain positions are killing them this season.
The Chiefs on the other hand are looking every bit like the Super Bowl contender they have been with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. They have found quality rookie players who are starting to find their roles on both sides of the ball and the vets they signed are starting to emerge. The Chiefs and Rams meet on Sunday afternoon for what was supposed to be a possible Super Bowl Matchup but could end up being a possible blowout. Here’s what to watch for in this matchup.
Aaron Donald vs Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith
This is going to be the biggest matchup to watch on Sunday, the Rams’ defensive line hasn’t been great or really even consistent, but Aaron Donald is the exception. The Future Hall of Famer has had a quiet season, only having five sacks and 22 solo tackles all season when he’s averaged over 14 sacks per season over the past three seasons. But that doesn’t mean that he still won’t wreck a game.
The Chiefs’ offensive line has been one gripe Chiefs fans have had for this season, the unit was predicted to be the best offensive line in the league according to Pro Football Focus. But the problems with the offensive line have been due to a lack of consistency, communication, or with the receivers not being open. The offensive line has been playing a lot more consistently over the past couple of weeks, but the interior will face a real test against Donald.
Watch for a lot of double teams between Creed Humphrey, Joe Thuney, and Trey Smith throughout the game, and if they can “contain” Donald this should be a good win for the Chiefs.
Chiefs Receivers vs Jalen Ramsey
The Chiefs’ Wide Receiver room has been constantly shuffling rotations, formations, and personnel as they have had to deal with tons of injuries. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney are all dealing with various injuries that have kept them out of recent games. But one player has been consistent for the Rams, it’s Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey is having a bad season in Los Angeles, he’s given up the most touchdowns of his career this season and has struggled with no reliable help on the backend. Ramsey is still one of the premier ball hawks in the league though, he plays aggressively and talks a lot of trash and the Chiefs should be wary of him this week.
Whether he’s playing JuJu, Kadarius Toney, or Skyy Moore, watch for the Chiefs to try and confuse Ramsey with unique looks and send players into Ramsey’s zone. The Chiefs have been able to exploit defensive back tendencies all season and watch for them to exploit Ramsey’s.
Travis Kelce vs Bobby Wagner/ Taylor Rapp
Travis Kelce has been the talk of all of the football world for the past week. He had a three-touchdown game against the Chargers and broke Rob Gronkowski’s record for most 100-yard games by a tight end. There have been discussions about Kelce even being the greatest tight end of all time, a discussion led by Hall of Fame Tight End Shannon Sharpe.
With all of the praise and accolades Kelce gets, it is hard to forget that he might have a tough matchup against the Rams. The Rams will try and put their best defensive back or linebacker to cover him. It will fall on Bobby Wagner or Taylor Rapp to try and hold Kelce under his usual statistical greatness.
Watch for the Rams to use a lot of bracketed or double coverage on Kelce, especially with Jalen Ramsey on a lot of the wide receivers. But don’t be surprised if they put Ramsey on Kelce too, Ramsey has been able to take away some tight ends this season but the Chiefs have had a lot of good and different looks to get Travis open.
Chiefs Defensive Line vs Rams Offensive Line
With Matthew Stafford out this week against Kansas City, it’s not looking good for the Rams to have a high-flying offensive game. The main reason for this is, they don’t have a good offensive line and their quarterbacks have both been injured while in the pocket. The Rams’ offensive line will have to contend with a unit that has had multiple sacks over the past five games.
Led by Chris Jones and Khaled Saunders, the Chiefs’ defensive line has been able to get consistent pressure on the interior. Chris Jones has nine sacks of far this season and has wrecked most games single handily, but this game will be more about the edge rushers.
The offensive tackles for the Rams have been swinging doors, not only have there been multiple starters on both sides, but they have allowed the most pressure in the league. This will be a huge game for George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, Carlos Dunlap, and Frank Clark. If they want to keep the quarterback under constant pressure, the edge rushers are going to need to get pressure and get home.