December 19, 2018

Rams and Chiefs Can’t Stop Scoring, and There May Be More to Come

The blizzard of points is not exactly what the N.F.L. envisioned in the off-season, but who are they to complain? If you’re an owner, a league sponsor or a network executive, the points bonanza has been magic for television ratings, which declined the past two years.

This has given the league a much-needed boost after several years of off-field controversies, including players committing domestic violence, protests during the national anthem and deflated footballs.

It would be easy to view the Rams-Chiefs showdown as a unicorn game, a once-in-a-generation aberration. But gunslinging offenses are a trend. The Chiefs are the first team since 1966 to lose two games despite scoring 40 or more points. Right after losing to the Patriots, 43-40, in Week 6, they scored 45 points against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Rams’ only loss of the season came two weeks ago in New Orleans to the Saints, 45-35. Two decades ago, the St. Louis Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf. Now several teams are vying for that title. Monday’s game was billed as a potential preview of the Super Bowl. Even if these two teams aren’t playing for the title in February, whoever does may put up just as many points.

Monday’s game was more than just a scoring bonanza, it was an unofficial proxy on the N.F.L.’s return to Los Angeles after more than two decades. This is the Rams’ third season back in California. They received a lukewarm reception the first year, and won over some skeptics last year by winning 11 games.

Now 10-1, the Rams have worked their way back into relevance in part because Monday’s game helped fans in and around Los Angeles forget, even for a few hours, the events of the past week and a half. On Nov. 8, a gunman killed a dozen people in Thousand Oaks, near the Rams’ training facility and offices. Then deadly wildfires raged nearby, forcing some players, coaches and staff out of their homes.

The Rams managed to beat the Seattle Seahawks at home last Sunday, then flew to Colorado Springs to train at altitude in preparation for Monday’s game, which was scheduled to be played in Mexico City. A day after arriving in Colorado, the Rams learned that the league was moving the game to Los Angeles because of problems with the field at Azteca Stadium. The Rams stayed in Colorado until Saturday anyway.

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