Oct 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) looks to pass during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Last week, we did not make any bold predictions for the Seahawks-Rams game, in hopes that we wouldn’t jinx any individual players. As a result the St. Louis Rams pulled off arguably the best win of the weekend, tripled their sack total, and getting two players nominated for a “Player of the Week” award; Tre Mason, who was nominated for Offensive Rookie of the Week, and Stedman Bailey, who won Special Teams Player of the Week. Naturally, one would think we would skip this section again, in hopes that the Rams would repeat their showing from last week, right? Wrong.
The Kansas City Chiefs are not the Seattle Seahawks. Even with impressive wins over the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers, the intra-state rivals are not quite as imposing as the defending Super Bowl champs, and feature a quarterback and head coach that Jeff Fisher has, traditionally, played very well against. Take that into consideration, here are our five bold prediction that will lead the Rams to victory today…
1. Tre Mason will record his first 100+ yard rushing game
Last week, Mason surprising saw the majority of the offensive carries. He took full advantage of the opportunity, managing 85 yards on 18 carries, including his first carrier rushing touchdown. Mason read the offensive line well, hit the holes quickly and decisively, and had a burst unlike anyone we’ve seen in the Rams backfield recently. That was against the Seahawks Top 5 ranked rushing defense. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are ranked outside the Top 15 in rushing yard allowed per game, despite playing primarily against teams without an overpowering rushing attack. Assuming Fisher sticks with “the hot hand,” expect Mason to get the ball early and often this afternoon.
2. The St. Louis Rams will have another 2+ sack outing.
Alex Smith is the master of the dink and dunk game in the NFL, and should be particularly weary of the St. Louis Rams defense, considering his last encounter involved Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s shoulder and him losing his starting job to Colin Kaepernick. Facing off against an “average,” at best, offensive line and Aaron Donald emerging as one of the most “disruptive” interior defensive linemen in the league, it should be a solid outing for the Rams. Eric Fisher vs. Robert Quinn is also probably his biggest mismatch of the year, with the newly-transitioned blindside tackle currently graded No.58 overall in pass protection this season (out of 72).
3. Austin Davis will get back on track with another 300+ yard, 3 touchdown game.
Last week, Davis set the record for the highest completion percentage versus a defending Super Bowl defense, going 17 of 20 for 155 yards and two touchdowns. However, he primarily relied on the check down and short pattern game, showing some (understandable) reluctancy to challenge the Seahawks three All-Pro defensive backs down the field. Against the Chiefs, Davis will not have that concern. Kansas City might have the most beat up secondary in the NFL, starting with Pro Bowler, Brandon Flowers, being out. Sean Smith is listed as probable, but is fighting back a groin injury, which we know (via Steven Jackson) can be a pesky injury. Eric Berry, their best safety, is questionable with an ankle injury. Chris Owens, their third corner, is out with a knee injury. While Kansas City’s pass rush is still lethal, at times, Davis should have his way against a suddenly-mediocre secondary… if he has time to throw.
4. St. Louis Rams run defense will hold Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis to under 100 yards rushing
After missing some time early, Jamaal Charles has reemerged as a top rushing threat in the league, recording 80+ yards against both the Chargers and 49ers in his last two games. The Rams, meanwhile, have allow the 5th-most rushing yards per game this season. However, that number does not reflect how well St. Louis has played against running backs lately, particularly since Aaron Donald got the starting nod. They held Marshawn Lynch to a 2.9 average on 18 attempts and stonewalled Frank Gore, allowing only 38 yards on 16 carries. Sadly, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick were able to make some plays with their legs. However, I wouldn’t expect Alex Smith to try that much today… particularly with Jo-Lonn Dunbar lurking on the defense.
5. The Rams will (again) win the penalty battle
After going 0-5 in penalty differential through Week 6, the Rams finally managed to keep the flags down against the Seattle Seahawks. This came on the heals of a “statement” from Jeff Fisher, releasing Ray Ray Armstrong after an idiotic unnecessary roughness penalty versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Last week, Fisher deactivated Austin Pettis for reportedly showing up late to a meeting, then released him following the victory over Seattle. The message has clearly been sent and it appears, at least so far, that it is resonating with the players. Tack on the facts that 1) Greg Robinson has been a godsend in replacing the penalty-prone Davin Joseph and 2) officials are finally starting to call some offensive penalties for Robert Quinn, and you have more than enough to believe the Rams might start winning the penalty war with some regularity.