Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs-Rams

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs look to validate their recent success by traveling to St. Louis to take on the Rams. A victory on the road over a team with a winning record like the Rams would legitimize the Chiefs wins at home over the Chargers and the Seahawks. This is not a fact lost on head coach Herm Edwards.

"This is a big game for us this week, going to St. Louis," said Edwards. "We're trying to beat a winning team on the road. We haven't done that this year. That's the next big step for us."

This week I spied on Rams fans from two message boards: The ClanRams Forums at and Rams Talk at . Rams fans on these boards are frustrated with and are very skeptical of their defense. However, they believe they have an offense that will outscore the Chiefs.

Rams Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"Should be a barn burner, with Rams offense winning at home." Airmech35 - The ClanRams Forum

"This is one game we need to open it up from the start. If we get into a ball control, conservative start, it will be a long day. I just don't see how we can stop LJ if we just try and hang around and win it at the end. We have to score early and often to get KC out of the running game. That means opening it up with the pass first approach. Curtis looked like the Curtis of last year, nice to see him making plays. Hard for Curtis to get involved when we are in two TE, two WR sets early." Rambos - The ClanRams Forum

"With the game in the dome, it could be closer than you think. LJ will get his yards, but the Rams will light it up with the pass. Could be a shoot out." The Oldgeek - Rams Talk

"I don't think Johnson will be a big factor considering that our O could run up the score early." Rambition - Rams Talk

"The rams offense needs to get 30+ points which should be achievable for them this week against a chiefs d that is horrible on the road." Realraul - Rams Talk

The Spy's analysis

The Rams offense is extremely potent. Quarterback Marc Bulger has been efficient this year. He has 12 touchdown passes and only one interception. Wide receiver Torry Holt is one of the top five wide receivers in the league and already has seven touchdowns this year. Running back Steven Jackson is ninth in the league in rushing. averaging 86 yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. The Chiefs' defense must take their "A" game with them to St. Louis.

The key again this week is the defensive line and tackling. The defensive line must penetrate and disrupt what the Rams are trying to do. Over the past two weeks, defensive tackles Ron Edwards and James Reed have made big plays by being disruptive. The Chiefs will need that effort again this week. Defensive end Jared Allen goes up against a Pro-Bowl left tackle for the second consecutive week in Orlando Pace. He won't likely have a dominating day, but the Chiefs need him to beat Pace once or twice to either create a sack or a hurried throw, and they need rookie defensive end Tamba Hali to have a breakout game. Kansas City must also be very sound in their tackling. Jackson is a big, fast back but if the Chiefs tackle well, they should be able to contain him.

Finally, the Chiefs need to take a step forward in the Cover 2 defense. This defense is supposed to limit big plays in the passing game, but the Chiefs have given up big pass plays in each of the last three weeks. The coaching staff expected the defense to struggle early but make big strides during the middle of the season. Playing against receivers like Holt and Isaac Bruce, this is the week the Chiefs need to take that next step.

Rams Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"LJ will probably stomp us into the ground. Our defense is still soft and weak and if you think I'm wrong then explain the yards we've given up this year in comparison with other teams in the NFL, especially last week." Cash50 - Rams Talk

"I don't think our defense is weak. I think Pisa being hurt all year has played a big role and I think we are very young on our front 7. Pisa 25, Witherspoon 26, Chillar 24, Kennedy 26. Adeyanju 23. We aren't weak, we are inexperienced. As far as our linebackers go, that's probably the best core of young linebackers in the league. Pisa & Witherspoon are pro-bowl caliber players and Chillar doesn't miss tackles, which has been a problem for us the past couple season. Kennedy has shown sparks of the 1st round pick we chose, and looks better every game. We are 7 games into the season with a totally revamped defense. Give it time. They'll come along. We just need to improve on our pass defense. We're so poor, we have to bring in nickel & dime backs, and that's when we get hit in the mouth. Fakhir Brown is healthy. So that should help." Believe6 – Rams Talk

"The onus of this game will be on our front seven...as it is in most games... If our front seven can slow Larry Johnson and force Huard to make plays then we have a very good chance...our linebackers have to position themselves better to make tackles and be wary of Gonzalez on those killer playaction that chiefs are one of the best at." Rampete - The ClanRams Forum

"After seeing what Tomlinson and Gates did to us, I don't know how we're going to stop Johnson and Gonzales. Hopefully, Haslett has some good ideas. Regardless, the offense is going to have to come through and pull this one out for us. I'm looking for Jackson to have a breakout game." r8rh8rmike – The ClanRams Forum

The Spy's Analysis

On paper, this is a great matchup for the Chiefs' offense. Larry Johnson is currently third in the league in rushing despite two horrendous back-to-back games against the Cardinals and Steelers. However, he and the Chiefs' offensive line appear to be hitting their stride. In contrast, the Rams' defense ranks 27th in the league against the run, giving up 135 yards per game. Quarterback Damon Huard has also begun hitting big passes downfield to tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receiver Eddie Kennison. St. Louis' defense ranks 21st in the league against the pass. Those matchups favor the Chiefs. However, the Rams defense has been very adept at creating turnovers, ranking fourth in the league with 16 turnovers. This defense is very reminiscent of KC's defense under Greg Robinson: give up big plays and rely on turnovers to help win games. The Chiefs' offense will be very effective if they stay focused playing their game and take care of the ball.

The Spy's Summary

The Chiefs need to show the same fire and passion in St. Louis as they have shown the past two weeks at home. The last two trips on the road have seen the Chiefs fall behind 14-0 in the first quarter. That absolutely cannot happen this week. The defense needs a stop early and the offense needs to score early as well. Focus is a big key this week as well. The Chiefs lost focus early in Arizona and never had it in Pittsburgh. They lost it again in the third and fourth quarter of the Seahawks game and it almost cost them. Focused teams don't fumble, don't make critical penalties and don't make bone-headed decisions. If the Chiefs are to continue their development as a legitimate playoff contender, they must demonstrate the passion and focus of a playoff team on the road.

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