Willie Gay makes our list of Chiefs and Rams players to watch in Sunday’s Week 12 game

Nick Tre. Smith/Special to the Star

The Chiefs are on a roll — a four-game winning streak that finds them 8-2 — with an opportunity to continue that momentum Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Rams (3-7) at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

On paper, the matchup slants heavily to the Chiefs, who are 15-point favorites over the 3-7 Rams.

Here are some players, aside of obvious stars like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, to keep an eye on:


Speaking of Donald, Chiefs center Creed Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith and left guard Joe Thuney better pack a lunch because they will see a lot of the NFL’s three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Donald, who tallied double-digit sacks from 2017-21, is one of the league’s purest defensive game-wreckers, whether it’s against the pass or the run. The Chiefs’ interior offensive line must control Donald from start to finish and not allow him to be the consistent disruptive force he is more than capable of becoming.


The Rams won’t have quarterback Matthew Stafford (concussion, neck) Sunday. He’s already been ruled out for this Week 12 game, so Bryce Perkins or John Wolford will draw the start at QB. Neither figures to be a consistent passing threat, but either — Perkins especially — could hurt the Chiefs with his legs. This is where the speedy Gay enters the fray. The third-year Chiefs linebacker has the speed to keep up with most dual-threat quarterbacks, and he’s riding a hot streak. Over the past two games, he’s recorded two sacks, two quarterback hits and 19 tackles, including three for losses.


It is often said a quarterback’s best friend is the running game, and the Rams might lean on Akers more than usual this week. Following the surprising release of Darrell Henderson, who started seven games and had led the Rams in rushing this season, it’s Akers’ show now. He faces a stout Chiefs run defense, which enters the weekend ranked fifth in the league at 100.6 yards allowed per game. Akers has rushed for 237 yards and a touchdown on 76 carries, averaging 3.1 yard per attempt.


While the Rams’ season has been a disappointment, Wagner continues to provide a steady veteran presence on defense in his first season with L.A. The 32-year-old Wagner, who is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top linebackers, has a team-high 84 tackles, three sacks and five quarterback hits this season.