The Los Angeles Rams enter Week 12 with a dismal 3-7 record and they’ll have to travel to square off against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have reeled off four straight wins. The Chiefs are currently 15.5-point favorites over the Rams for Sunday’s contest, making it the biggest spread as the underdog in Sean McVay’s tenure in Los Angeles.
Injuries continue to negatively affect the reigning Super Bowl champions as Matthew Stafford has been ruled out for Sunday’s game and A’Shawn Robinson was placed on season-ending injured reserve. The Rams also have multiple offensive linemen questionable or sidelined.
With the Rams just looking to stay healthy and see positive signs down the final stretch of the regular season, here are five players to watch in Sunday’s matchup with the Chiefs.
As mentioned above, Stafford is inactive for Sunday’s game, so either John Wolford or Bryce Perkins will be the starting signal-caller for the Rams in Week 12. Wolford has been dealing with a neck issue, so Perkins could see an increased role regardless of Wolford’s status.
Perkins stepped in for Stafford last week as he completed five of his 10 passes for 64 yards while he rushed for 39 yards on five carries. With the Rams likely running a simpler offense sans Stafford, expect Perkins to get plenty of opportunities to make plays on Sunday versus the Chiefs.
The Rams surprisingly released Darrell Henderson earlier this week, giving Cam Akers and Kyren Williams more opportunities moving forward. Akers rushed for a season-high 61 yards on 14 attempts in Week 11 and he’ll look to build on his best performance of the year in Week 12.
The Chiefs allow 4.5 yards per attempt to running backs this season (11th most in the NFL), so the Rams could try to attack them on the ground. It should be expected for Akers to handle most of the carries while Williams should see most of the passing-down work on Sunday.
The Rams have Aaron Donald to dominate the interior of their defensive line while the Chiefs have Chris Jones to do the same for them. Jones has had a fantastic season where he’s logged 10 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles in 10 appearances.
While Matt Skura is questionable for Sunday’s game and Brian Allen is out, the Rams’ interior offensive linemen will be tasked with trying to contain Jones on Sunday. If the Pro Bowl interior defender thrives in Week 12, the Rams will have a tough time moving the ball.
Tutu Atwell will forever be a controversial player among fans in Los Angeles due to where he was selected in the 2021 NFL draft and who he was taken ahead of. However, the second-year wideout deserves to get more than seven offensive snaps, right?
The speedy wide receiver hauled in his lone target for a 62-yard touchdown in Week 11, but he would only see six more offensive snaps the rest of the contest. With the Rams needing someone to step up with Cooper Kupp out and Allen Robinson being hobbled, McVay should find more ways to get Atwell involved in Week 12.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jones is certainly Kansas City’s most dominant player. And outside of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce is the one player that the Rams will focus on slowing down during Sunday’s game.
Andy Reid does a fantastic job moving Kelce around to ensure he’s seeing favorable matchups for the majority of games and the Chiefs will likely try to get Taylor Rapp to cover Kelce as much as possible in Week 12. Rapp and the other defensive backs of the Rams will need to limit the damage that Kelce inflicts on Sunday to keep this game remotely close, which is easier said than done.