The Kansas City Chiefs are back at Arrowhead Stadium facing the Los Angeles Rams before a three-game road stretch.
While their record might not reflect a championship-caliber team, there are plenty of members of this Los Angeles squad who just became Super Bowl champions a season ago. Kansas City will need some top-notch performances from some key players in order to come away with a win against this team.
Here’s a look at four Chiefs players who we’ll be paying close attention to when they face the Chargers on Sunday night:
S Bryan Cook
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Cook is trending toward making his first career NFL start with Juan Thornhill listed as questionable with a calf injury. The rookie safety did some really good things in Week 11 and earned the trust of Steve Spagnuolo in doing so. He had a touchdown-saving tackle of Austin Ekeler in the red zone. He also helped Nick Bolton force a fumble on Keenan Allen and so on. He can build on that performance in Week 12, but also make an appeal to the coaching staff with his play. A good performance, even against a backup quarterback could show the coaching staff that the second-round draft pick is ready for a bigger role moving forward.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
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Smith-Schuster will be available to play on Sunday afternoon after missing the Week 11 game with a concussion he suffered the week prior. This is a good week and matchup for the Chiefs to be getting their top receiver back. The Rams are tied with the fifth-most receptions allowed this season (142) along with over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns surrendered on the year. If Smith-Schuster gets a decent-sized workload in his first game back, he should have a nice day against a defense that has largely struggled to cover opposing receivers.
DE George Karlaftis
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Karlaftis has been one of the most productive rookie edge rushers in the league this season. He has the second-most pressures next to Aidan Hutchinson and he leads the league in passes batted with five. Where he hasn’t been productive is the sack department, with just a half-sack on the season. The Rams have already started 10 different offensive line combinations this season and they could be on their 11th combination this week. They might have their fourth different starting left tackle this week and that could create some opportunities for Karlaftis to get himself in the sack column.
RG Trey Smith
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Smith is going to have his hands full on Sunday afternoon, going up against Rams All-Pro DT Aaron Donald. Smith explained that his technique and fundamentals are going to need to be on point for this game and he’s certainly not wrong. Of the Chiefs’ starting offensive linemen, Smith has allowed the third-most pressures with 19 hurries, 1 QB hit and a sack allowed according to PFF. This sure would be a good week for Smith to have his best performance of his sophomore season.