Must win game for both teams
Governor's Cup Modern Era: 1996-present Preseason Meetings are 6-5 in favor of the Rams Regular Season Meetings are 4-0 in favor of the Chiefs
The Governor's Cup isn't the only prize in play this Sunday as the Chiefs and Rams set to square off in St. Louis; for the first time since 2002 these teams will meet in the regular season with major playoff implications on the line.
Last weekend both the Chiefs and Rams played on the road and were dominated by their competition, losing by a combined score of 62-13. While the Chiefs engaged in one of the most disappointing offensive performances in team history due to the loss of Matt Cassel, the Rams' savvy young QB Sam Bradford proved he actually can make rookie mistakes, throwing two interceptions in the red zone. This week's injury report should improve for both teams as each expect to get back key players in Matt Cassel and Ronald Bartell.
Sunday's game is the final road test for the Chiefs, a team that has struggled mightily when away from Arrowhead Stadium. Consider it fortunate for Kansas City however that the Rams have already lost two home games and the Edward Jones Dome is typically a 50/50 split of Red and Navy.
Interestingly enough, Thursday night's game should mount considerable pressure on one of these two teams as whoever prevails between San Diego and San Francisco will pull even with their respective division rival in the win column.
The Chiefs front-seven vs. Steven Jackson
The Rams' offensive workhorse is one of the best backs in the NFL but his offensive line is both young and inconsistent. In last Sunday's loss to New Orleans, Jackson was able to run at close to six yards per carry, but his YPC on the season is well below four. If the Chiefs look anything like they did against the run last week, expect Jackson to have monster day. Keep in mind, he’s as good a receiver out of the backfield as you’ll find and the Chiefs have had trouble on the edges all season.
Chiefs Offensive Line vs. Rams Defensive Line
Chris Long and James Hall lead a unit that brings constant pressure on opposing Quarterbacks but tends to struggle against the run. The Chiefs will need to be successful on first and second down if they plan to keep Matt Cassel upright and out of harm’s way. Right Tackle will be especially important as Barry Richardson has struggled enough of late to warrant the return of Ryan O’Callaghan but as usual, we likely won’t know the starter until game time.
Brandon Flowers vs. The Injury Bug
Last week was a total defensive disaster, save for a couple of forced turnovers in the second half. One noticeable issue was the health of Brandon Flowers. He looked almost unwilling in run support and slow out of his breaks against the pass. As of today, he is not listed on the injury report. His likely match-up will be Danny Amendola, an extremely polished route runner that leads the team with 68 receptions. Normally this would suit Flowers’ ability extremely well, but if Flowers is hobbled Amendola can work underneath and he and Sam Bradford could have a field day.
Dwayne Bowe vs. Ronald Bartell
A shoulder injury sidelined Bartell last week and reports are that he simply lacked the strength to lift his left arm prior to kick-off. Arguably the Rams’ best defensive player, Bartell plays a huge role in what they’re able to against opposing offenses. His man-to-man coverage skills are on par with the best in the league, but how healthy will he be this week? Even more compelling is how Dwayne Bowe will play, regardless of who covers him. The Chiefs desperately need Bowe to get involved in order to have a balanced offensive attack.
Neither team can afford a loss at this point in the season so the 2010 Governor’s Cup should be competitive and exciting. While both the Chiefs and Rams are slightly conservative on offense given their run-first mentalities, they both have some very explosive players that can score at any moment. Fans should expect a close, hard-hitting game with multiple lead changes.
Though it hasn’t been truly meaningful in nearly a decade, the 2010 Governor’s Cup will ignite an intense rivalry between two young, up-and-coming football teams and should be one of the best games of Week 15.