After cooling off one of the NFL's hottest teams, the Kansas City Chiefs are moving forward with confidence.
The Chiefs look to continue their dominance over a St. Louis Rams team that's coming off an impressive victory of its own when the two teams meet up Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Two weeks removed from a frustrating five-point loss at San Francisco that dropped its record below .500, Kansas City (3-3) snapped San Diego's five-game winning streak with a 23-20 road victory last Sunday. Rookie Cairo Santos' wobbly 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds left capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive and helped the Chiefs remain a threat in the AFC West.
"I think this team is in a good place mentally," said quarterback Alex Smith, who has thrown eight touchdowns and one interception in the last four games.
"This was an opportunity for us to kind of show what we're made of, show the country. I feel like we're in a good place and we'll keep going."
That's the plan for the Chiefs, who were outscored 50-27 while opening with consecutive losses to Tennessee and Denver. Since, Kansas City has averaged 28.8 points and not allowed more than 22 in a game while winning three of four.
While the Chiefs' offense has committed one turnover in three games, the defense continued to progress after holding a Chargers team that entered averaging 285.5 passing yards to a season-low 182.
"That's the game of football," Smith said. "You have to trust the guy next to you. We talk about it all the time - offensively, defensively, the guy next to you in the huddle - you have to trust all those guys to do their job. And you have to trust that you're going to do yours."
That trust has coach Andy Reid feeling cautiously optimistic about his group.
"The great part about this is we still have a ton of room to improve," said Reid, who improved to 14-2 in games immediately following the bye week. "I think overall the whole picture is good."
It could get better if the Chiefs can take advantage of a two-game home stretch against St. Louis (2-4) and the one-win New York Jets.
Kansas City has won the last five meetings against the Rams by an average of 19.0 points but hasn't faced them since a 27-13 victory at St. Louis in 2010.
Reid, meanwhile, won't take anything for granted after St. Louis showed some creativity during last Sunday's 28-26 victory over Seattle.
"We've got a heck of a football team coming in here this week," Reid said. "(Coach) Jeff (Fisher) has done a nice job with the Rams. They are playing at a very high level, they're fast, they're aggressive. We've got to make sure that we get ourselves ready."
St. Louis allowed Russell Wilson to become the first NFL quarterback to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for 100 and was outgained 463 to 272 overall, but benefited from a pair of key special teams plays.
Stedman Bailey returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. As the ball was in the air, teammate Tavon Austin faked out the Seahawks by staggering then tumbling while preparing to make a phantom catch on the opposite sideline.
Then with 2:55 remaining in the game while ahead by two and facing a fourth-and-3 from their own 18, the Rams executed a perfect fake punt when punter Johnny Hekker hit Benny Cunningham with an 18-yard pass.
View photos of the St. Louis Rams starting roster.
"If you have the reputation that you're fearless from the standpoint of making those calls, you're going to be able to dictate some things," said Fisher, the mastermind behind Tennessee's famed Music City Miracle. "That's what we try to do."
Through more conventional means, Tre Mason could find himself as the Rams featured back after rushing for 85 yards and a TD on 18 carries in his second NFL game last weekend.
The Chiefs held San Diego to 69 yards rushing after San Francisco ran for 171 against them two weeks earlier. Kansas City, however, has not held an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards in consecutive games this season.
Chiefs star Jamaal Charles gained 95 yards against the Chargers to pass Priest Holmes for the top spot on the team's rushing list with 6,113.
He passed a battery of tests and does not show symptoms of a concussion, the Chiefs said Wednesday -- one day after the star running back told a radio show he saw "light bulbs" after a hit against San Diego.
Averaging 4.9 yards per carry in the last three games, Charles ran for 126 and a TD on 11 carries at St. Louis in 2010.
The Rams' run defense ranks 28th in both yards (145.0 per game) and yards per attempt (4.8).