Vaunted KC, Rams of­fenses to clash

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Sports - BY GREG BEACHAM

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 sec-

ond. 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.

More things to watch in the first “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” game at the Coli­seum since 1985, and the Rams’ first in the ven­er­a­ble arena since 1979:

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.

Get­ting healthy: 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.

Mahomes mourns: 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.

Old friends: 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 at New Or­leans.

SCOTT EKLUND AP

In a pos­si­ble Su­per Bowl pre­view, Rams coach Sean McVay and quar­ter­back Jared Goff will host the Chiefs.

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