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Rams-Chiefs preview: 5 keys to an L.A. upset

Can the Rams overcome a 15-point spread to beat the Chiefs?

Syndication: Camarillo CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

The Los Angeles Rams enter Week 12’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs as heavy underdogs: Monumental 15.5-point underdogs according to the latest odds from DraftKings Sportsbook. However, this is still the NFL and anything can happen on any given Sunday. This isn’t the 2018 rematch that many were expecting to see at the beginning of the season. However, the Rams will be looking to get a win after four straight losses.

Here are five things that the Rams need to do to defeat the Chiefs on the road and why L.A. could end up covering that spread, if not pulling the upset.

1. Steal Possessions

With Bryce Perkins at quarterback, the Rams aren’t going to be able to keep up with the Chiefs’ offense. The Rams aren’t going to win a 54-51 shootout like they did in 2018. It’s going to take the Rams stealing a possession or two or three from the Chiefs.

Whether it’s a turnover, a fake punt to extend a drive, or a surprise onside kick, the Rams need to keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline and limit their possessions. The Rams defense has forced just one turnover in the last eight weeks. If this version of the Rams is going to beat the Chiefs, that needs to change.

2. Outscore the Chiefs

It sounds simple as this is how you beat every team in the NFL. This is a classic “the team that scores the most points after four quarters wins the game.” However, this is more about how the Rams win the game. The Chiefs aren’t a team that the Rams are going to be able to beat 16-13. While the Rams aren’t going to win a 54-51 shootout, it may take getting to 24-30 points to win.

The Rams have to be able to get touchdowns in the red zone and not settle for field goals. Field goals aren’t going to beat the Chiefs. It’s a tall task with any quarterback and offense, but even more so with Perkins and the 2022 version of the Rams offense.

3. Shorten the Game by Running the Ball

The Chiefs have lost two games this season. The Buffalo Bills ran the ball 31 times for 125 yards in a 24-20 win. In that game, Allen ran the ball 12 times for 32 yards. Perkins is not Allen by any means, but the Rams can use Perkins as a runner to give the offense numbers in the run game.

The Indianapolis Colts ran the ball 27 times in their 20-17 win against the Chiefs early in the season. Jonathan Taylor only averaged 3.4 yards per carry, but it was a commitment to the run game that was the difference.

While the Titans didn’t win a few weeks ago, with a limited and inexperienced Malik Willis at quarterback, they ran the ball 29 times and Derrick Henry had 115 yards. The Titans also used Willis as a runner as he had five carries for 40 yards.

The Rams haven’t run the ball well this season, but with Perkins, it will give the defense an extra body to account for which could cause some early issues. Either way, the Rams need to be able to keep Mahomes and co. on the sideline. Long drives by running the football will shorten the game which will give the Rams their best shot to win.

4. Limit Explosives and Take Away the Big Play

The Chiefs currently lead the NFL in creating explosive plays on offense. Patrick Mahomes could make almost any coach look good. However, Andy Reid’s ability to adjust his offense and scheme explosive plays while NFL defenses are looking to take that away shows just how good of a head coach he is.

Sometimes Mahomes can look for the big play too often which can get him in trouble. The Rams need to be able to force Mahomes to check the ball underneath. Their best chance is to frustrate Mahomes with interior pressure and then force him into mistakes while he tries to do too much.

The Rams defense has given up too many explosive plays over the last few weeks. If the Chiefs start gaining yards in 20-yard chunks, it’s going to be a long day on defense.

5. Keep it Simple for Bryce Perkins

The Rams aren’t going to win a drop=back passing game with Bryce Perkins. McVay needs to scheme up a game plan as if he’s working with a rookie. McVay needs to keep things simple and utilize Perkins’ mobility. The Rams need to run play-action bootlegs to cut the field in half and keep Perkins’ reads as simple as possible.

This isn’t a game where the Rams can line up in empty and expect Perkins to win the game with his arm. Perkins is a different style of quarterback that we’ve typically seen with McVay. With a full week of practice and game planning, we’re going to see just how creative McVay can be.