The Chiefs produced one of the NFL’s biggest turnarounds last season, rising up from a dreadful 4-12 campaign in head coach Todd Haley’s 2009 debut to record 10 wins and a surprise AFC West title. The Rams also displayed dramatic improvement during the course of 2010, posting a 7-9 mark in Steve Spagnuolo’s second year in charge after registering only a single victory the previous season.
St. Louis fell just short in its playoff quest, but the early returns of this preseason suggest the club could be a prime contender in the NFC West for the upcoming year.
The Rams enter Arrowhead Stadium for Friday’s matchup between these two Missouri inhabitants off two straight impressive wins, following up a 33-10 trouncing of a depleted Indianapolis squad with last week’s 17-16 edging of visiting Tennessee. The winning points against the Titans came on the game’s final play, with kicker Josh Brown booting a 42-yard field goal as time expired.
St. Louis’ first play from scrimmage was pretty exciting as well, with quarterback Sam Bradford connecting with a wide-open Brandon Gibson for an 83- yard touchdown just 15 seconds into the contest.
Bradford finished with 138 yards on 8-of-15 passing and was intercepted once before being removed at halftime. The 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is expected to play around three quarters in Friday’s tilt, as is the plan for the Rams’ first team offense and defense.
Third-stringer Thaddeus Lewis completed 8-of-10 throws for 74 yards for the Rams and engineered the 12-play, 67-yard late drive that was capped by Brown’s kick.
Kansas City hasn’t looked as sharp as its in-state foe through the early portion of the preseason, having lost to Tampa Bay and Baltimore by a combined 56-13 score in its first two outings.
The Chiefs have had trouble generating offense in both defeats, mustering a mere 137 total yards and six first downs against the Buccaneers and producing just 288 total yards versus the Ravens.
Starting quarterback Matt Cassel hit on only 6-of-14 passes for 73 yards before being replaced by backup Tyler Palko midway through the second quarter of last week’s setback. The 2010 Pro Bowl selection will see considerably more time in this one, with he and the Chiefs’ starters likely to remain on the field into the second half.
Palko went 8-of-13 for a team-best 95 yards and led Kansas City to its only touchdown against the Ravens, a four-yard pass from the journeyman to Terrance Copper. Rookie linebacker Justin Houston was the Chiefs’ bright spot on defense, with the third-round draft choice recording a pair of sacks.
Kansas City did sustain a significant injury in preparation for this week’s clash, with inside linebacker Brandon Siler tearing his Achilles in Tuesday’s practice.
The Chiefs and Rams squared off in regular-season play during Week 15 of the 2010 regular season, with Kansas City coming away with a 27-13 home win. St. Louis leads the all-time preseason series by a 12-8 margin and handed the Chiefs a 17-9 loss at the Edward Jones Dome in the most recent exhibition encounter between the clubs, which took place in 2009.