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Friday, 24 October 2014

St. Louis at Kansas City: Five Things to Know

Austin Davis

Last week the Chiefs stunned the Chargers by defeating them 23-20 and snapping San Diego's then-five-game winning streak while the Rams surprised the Seahawks with some chicanery, beating them 28-26 even while allowing QB Russell Wilson 313 passing yards, 106 rushing yards, and three touchdowns.

Whereas many would say, "Yeah, the Chiefs are going to win," based upon Kansas City's success last season (11-5), their renowned defense (heck, they held the lightning-hot Philip Rivers to a season-low 205 passing yards last week), and the rushing machines that are Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, this match-up will likely not go "as planned"--whatever that may be in the NFL.

Then there are those (like a good friend of mine who boldly asserts before each game that, yuppers, the Rams are going to win even though I have told him repeatedly that Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Isaac Bruce are no longer on the team) who say, "Wait a minute. The Rams BEAT the defending-Super-Bowl-champion (I think this adjective is somehow obligatory) Seahawks!"

Statistically, offensively, the two teams are relatively commensurate with the passing game favoring the Rams while the rushing edge favors the Chiefs. More specifically, Rams' QB Austin Davis is 135-205 for 1,520 yards, and nine touchdowns while Kansas City's Alex Smith is 119-of-186 for 1,270 yards and nine touchdowns. For WRs, St. Louis' Brian Quick has snagged 24 balls for 365 yards (15.2 average) and three touchdowns while Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe has seized 19 passes for 279 yards (14.7 average). Chiefs' TE Travis Kelce has caught 24 passes for 307 yards (12.8 average) with three touchdowns while the Rams' Lance Kendricks has 15 receptions for 127 yards (8.5 average) and three touchdowns.

On the ground, the Chiefs' tandem of Davis (83-352, 4.2 average, 3 TDs) and Charles (64-290, 4.5 average, 2 TDs) have a moderate edge over the Rams' Zac Stacy (61-240, 3.9 average, 1 TD) and Tre Mason (23-125, 5.4 average, 1 TD). Charles has also scored two receiving touchdowns on 11 catches for 55 yards. Oh and then there's the Rams' Benny Cunningham who has 36 carries for 136 yards (3.8 average), and two touchdowns AND 16 receptions for 121 yards (7.6 average) and another touchdown (I didn't know in which category to place him but thought he should be mentioned.) 

Oh yeah, and both franchises have great kickers with nearly identical statistics. St. Louis' Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein has made 8-of-10 field goals and 15-of-15 extra points while Kansas City's Cairo "A Perna" Santos (that's "the leg" in Brazilian Portuguese) is also 8-of-10 in field goals and 16-of-16 in extra points.

Defensively, despite a -2 turnover ratio, the Chiefs have amassed a whopping 17 sacks, forced six fumbles, and managed three interceptions. For comparison's sake, the Rams have a -3 ratio, four sacks, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions.

Notwithstanding the sack stat for a moment, the rest of the data is comparably, well, comparable. But the Rams have their unique stratagem consisting of fake punts, misdirected punt returns, and who-knows-what-else head coach Jeff Fisher has in his bag o'tricks.

So, dear readers, you may ask if there's anything else of interest you may appreciate prior to the game in addition to the bevy of data I have already spewed. Of course. There is always something else to learn. Here are five additional things to know:

1. The Chiefs have met the St. Louis Rams 10 times and lead the series 6-4. Kansas City has won the last five games by an average of 19 points with their last meeting versus the Rams in 2010 resulting in a 27-13 win. Over these five games, the Rams surrendered, on average, 37.8 points to the Chiefs.

2. Kansas City ranks third in rushing yards per game (140.3); behind Dallas (159.7) and Russell Wilson, er Seattle (153.3). St. Louis' defense ranks 28th against the run, relinquishing 145 yards-per-game and 4.8 yards-per-attempt. Also kind of dismal, the Rams defense has surrendered, on average, 29.3 points-per-game (placing them second behind Tampa Bay at 34). The Chiefs' defense currently rank second in opponents' average passing yards-per-game with 209 (behind the Patriots at 208).

3. Chiefs' head coach Andy Reid's career record versus Fisher is 0-4.

4. Last week's victories were most triumphant for these two franchises. The Rams had lost 16 of the past 18 games versus the Seahawks and this was the Chiefs' first win in San Diego in seven years.

5. At the time of this article's writing, the point spread is Chiefs -8 with an over/under of 44.



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