Is Tonight’s Monday Night Football the Game of the Century?

Super Bowl LIII preview. Game of the year. Fun and gun. Formerly the Battle of Missouri. Jedi against Padawan. New School against Newer School.

However you want to frame it, Monday night’s highly anticipated showdown between the Chiefs and Rams (both first-place clubs are 9-1) in Los Angeles promises to offer far more than just the fifth matchup since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger between teams that had no more than one loss in Week 11 or later.

I had the opportunity to break the game down with ESPN analyst (and former NFL safety and, later, executive) Louis Riddick, who will be covering it for the Worldwide Leader.

MVP debate framed?

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley are at the forefront — sharing the limelight with New Orleans’ Drew Brees — when it comes to assessing candidates for the NFL’s 2018 MVP.

Mahomes, in his first year as a starter, could break the single-season record for touchdown passes (55, set by Peyton Manning in 2013). Gurley is a solid bet to pace the league in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns for the second straight year.

“I think whomever has the bigger game here will be talked about even more as the MVP front-runner. I don’t know if it will decide it, but it makes it interesting as hell. It’s great that these two guys get to square off, so to speak. This is exactly what the league wants,” said Riddick.

“They want new superstars to be hyped up legitimately. … Todd Gurley is a legit player, and he would be in any era. Patrick Mahomes is a legit player, and he would be in any era. This game deserves all the attention that obviously it’s getting.”

Reid vs. McVay

With another nod to the Saints and Sean Payton, it doesn’t get much better than the Chiefs’ Andy Reid and Rams’ Sean McVay when it comes to innovative, forward-thinking coaches who are letting their space-age offenses evolve.

And though that’s a familiar narrative as it pertains to McVay, 32, now in his second year at the helm, perhaps Reid doesn’t get his just due for his ability to adapt in this, his 20th season as an NFL head coach.

“Andy Reid, who’s more respected than him?” said Riddick, who worked for him in Philadelphia. “Sean McVay — he’s like a new face of the league.

“It’s like the younger version of the older guy going against each other. And it’s funny, it’s only in name that Andy is older. Because in terms of football intellect and innovations and willingness to adapt and change and stay on the cutting edge — he’s right there.

“Look at what he’s done to his offense — this offense looks nothing like it use do in Philadelphia. Although it still has West Coast principles, it’s about as radical as it gets now. No one would have ever thought Andy would do that. He’s done it — and it’s working.”

Kansas City owns the No. 4 offense (423.1 yards per game) but is second in points with 35.3 per game. Los Angeles ranks second in total offense (448 ypg) and third in scoring (33.5 ppg).

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Source: USA Today