Monday Night Football Predictions: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Rams
No question the most memorable Monday Night Football game in this writer's memory in terms of hype surrounding it and living up to said hype was what is still the highest-rated MNF game ever: Bears at Dolphins on Dec. 2, 1985.
Those Bears were arguably the best team in history and brought a legendary defense and a 12-0 record to the home of the only franchise to complete a perfect season. No question in my mind that the Bears run the table that year if they win that game, but they didn't. Miami 38, Chicago 24. The Bears wouldn't lose again. Many members of that team were pissed they didn't get another shot at Dan Marino in the Super Bowl.
Now, I'm not saying this Monday night's matchup between the high-powered Chiefs (9-1) and Rams (9-1) in Los Angeles is on that same level, but this is as excited as I've been about a regular-season game from a neutral perspective in years. It's just the fifth meeting between teams with one or fewer losses in Week 11 or later since 1970 and the first since Nov. 17, 2013, when 8-1 Denver and 9-0 Kansas City played. The Chiefs lost that 27-17 in Denver.
On Bovada's latest Super Bowl odds , the Rams are +325 favorites and the Chiefs +500 in third. I could easily see those numbers switched should Kansas City pull the upset here. I believe these will be the two top seeds in their respective conferences, although the Saints are right there with the Rams in the NFC and hold the tiebreaker.
Chiefs at Rams Betting Story Lines
This was to be the greatest international NFL matchup ever played (accidentally, really) as it was set for Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with both teams practicing this week in the altitude to get ready for that. However, that stadium hosted some major events of late and it has been especially rainy in the area, so the field was deemed unplayable and the game moved to Los Angeles - obviously a nice break for the Rams. The NFL wants to be an international league, but this had to be done. Can you imagine if Patrick Mahomes or Todd Gurley, etc., had torn an ACL on that slop in Mexico? I'm assuming the league will make this up to Mexico with two games next year or something … hey, move the Raiders there for a year before Las Vegas!
The Chiefs have the MVP betting favorite in Mahomes, who already has set several team records and could set a few league ones. He leads the league in passing yards (3,150) and touchdowns (31) and is second in rating (117.4). Mahomes has either thrown for 300 yards or at least two TDs in every game. He has the best overall group of weapons in the league with tailback Kareem Hunt, WRs Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, and tight end Travis Kelce. Watkins missed last Sunday's 26-14 win over Arizona (no way the Chiefs were covering 17 there ahead of this game) with a foot injury but is expected back.
The Rams have two MVP candidates in Jared Goff and Gurley. Goff is second in passing yards (3,134), third in touchdowns (22) and fifth in rating (113.0). Mahomes and Goff are two of just eight QBs ever with at least 3,000 passing yards and a 110+ passer rating in their team's first 10 games of a season. All Gurley has done is become the fourth player ever to score at least one TD in each of his team's first 10 games of a season. He leads the NFL in rushing (988) and touchdowns (17).
While I'd take Gurley over Hunt, the Rams don't have quite the pass-catching weapons that Kansas City does, especially after losing Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL in last week's close win over Seattle. He has caught 40 passes for 566 yards and six touchdowns. The Rams almost exclusively line up in three WR sets, so Josh Reynolds will slide into the starting lineup. Last time Reynolds started for an injured Kupp (concussion) was Oct. 28 vs. the Packers and Reynolds caught two TD passes.
Notice I haven't said much about the defenses? What's there to say? Neither is very good, but neither helped by the offense scoring so fast and often. Guys get tired. Two of the league's top sack leaders will take the field in the Rams' Aaron Donald (12.5) and Chiefs' Dee Ford (9.0). L.A.'s defense is stacked with big names and should be a lot better than it is, but the secondary has been a problem lately. Kansas City's just isn't very good without Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry.
Chiefs at Rams Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Los Angeles is a 3-point favorite (-130) with a total of 63. On the moneyline, the Rams are -180 and Chiefs +158. On the alternate lines, the Rams are -2.5 (-155), -3.5 (-105) and -4 (+103). Kansas City is 8-2 against the spread (5-0 on road) and 5-4-1 "over/under" (4-1 on road). L.A. is 4-6 ATS (2-3 at home) and 5-5 O/U (3-2 at home).
The Chiefs are 5-1 ATS in their past six on Monday. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five in November. The Rams are 2-6 ATS in their past eight on Monday. They are 0-5 ATS in their previous five after scoring at least 30 points last time out. The over is 4-1 in K.C.'s past five on Monday. It's 4-1 in L.A.'s previous five vs. teams with a winning record.
Chiefs at Rams Betting Prediction
That total is the highest in league history (I've seen it as high as 64 at other books). The previous mark was 62 points for a 2000 Week 9 game between the St. Louis Rams and 49ers. The Rams, who were pre-Kurt Warner back then, won that game on the road 34-24.
Will the California wildfires affect play here? Let's hope not, and obviously hope more that is under control ASAP for reasons that go way beyond football. That's a massive total, indeed, but I don't see how both teams aren't in the 30s so lean over. I'll go Rams at -2.5 simply for being at home and still having the better defensive personnel.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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