Thanksgiving is coming up, so it’s time to invite the family over, carve the turkey, gather around the table, and bicker.
With that in mind, The Times called on Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet, stars of the ABC comedy “Modern Family,” to weigh in on their favorite NFL teams, the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, who will face each other this week on “Monday Night Football.” Both teams are 9-1.
Burrell and Stonestreet — on the show, Phil Dunphy and Cam Tucker — aren’t just casual fans. Burrell bleeds Rams blue, Stonestreet lives and dies by the Chiefs. They both go to games, have been to the draft, and know their teams down to the minute details.
The Times moderated an email conversation between the two this week:
STONESTREET: GO CHIEFS!! I can’t wait to dine on some delicious ram (I assume ram is a male lamb of some kind) on Monday night, Ty!
BURRELL: If by “Go Chiefs” you mean go away, then by all means, “Go Chiefs!” A ram is indeed a sheep. The qualities of mutton are much like the Rams. Tough, gamey, and it will show several fake fly sweeps until you don’t respect it, and then run it for a 70-yard TD.
STONESTREET: Well, the truth is, I don’t even like lamb. So, ha-ha. I do wonder, however, if Marcus Peters will enjoy the taste of Cheetah. I’ve heard it’s 100 yards and three touchdowns gamier than mutton.
BURRELL: Marcus Peters is preparing a tasting menu of nothing but Cheetah meat. It consists of your choice of 10 zone coverages, from which he gets to “pick 6.”
STONESTREET: True that the 10-zone-coverage package still comes with a side of burnt toast?
OK, fellas, let’s get to the questions. When and how did you fall in love with your teams?
STONESTREET: Me, probably when I was 9 or 10. I met the late, great Joe Delaney at a mall in Kansas City and got his autographed card. My first trip to Arrowhead was probably when I was 13 or 14. I still have that signed card.
BURRELL: My Rams fandom was born in Oregon, of all places. My father’s family was from Chino, and they would send us Rams hats and jerseys when we were kids, and it became our way of connecting to our extended family. I was a Rams fan long before I watched a game. And then, in the seventies, we would communicate to them once a month or so, and it was usually about the team, so our watching was imperative. I wanted to always have information to give [and debate over] to my lovely aunts and uncles in Chino, so we would watch the game and take notes. By the time the ’79 Super Bowl happened, we were in deep. It was a crushing loss, but it solidified our fandom with scar tissue.
Which head coach would you take, the Rams’ Sean McVay or the Chiefs’ Andy Reid?
STONESTREET: Um, I’ll take the guy that’s won 200-plus games over the guy that will maybe someday win 200-plus games. And plus, I can pass for Andy when I’m in Kansas City, and that helps at IHop.
BURRELL: Well, this is predictable as a Rams fan, but McVay. He’s innovating and motivating at the same time, which is rare. He reminds me of Chip Kelly during his Oregon stint. From play to play, you had no idea what was coming, and they played hard for him. McVay’s innovation is made even more remarkable by the similar sets and personnel that he works with. He doesn’t seem to be an arrogant person in the least, but, with his offense, he’s basically saying, “I don’t even need more than a couple sets to make you look silly.” It’s impressive.
STONESTREET: I hope he pulls a Chip Kelly Monday night.
Which city has the more sophisticated NFL fans, Los Angeles or Kansas City?
BURRELL: Well, here’s where I can’t even be a homer. It’s KC without a doubt. We’re in the process of winning over LA fans. Based on the previous games this season, I wouldn’t be shocked if the KC fans equal the Rams fans at the Coliseum. There’s a tradition with organizations like KC that can’t be approximated with the stop-and-start history in LA. That said, I really do believe the fan base is going to grow in size and passion. They’ll still leave the game early, though, because it’s LA and there’s traffic and they’re not dummies.
STONESTREET: On behalf of Kansas City, thank you, Ty. I agree.
Who has more comedic potential, the Rams’ Jared Goff or the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce?
BURRELL: I haven’t seen Jared’s comic chops, but if I’ve learned anything after his rookie season, it’s to not underestimate him.
STONESTREET: I’ve seen Kelce in action. I haven’t seen Goff in action. But I’m going Kelce. Travis and I may start an improv team, actually. We’re gonna call it: Tight Ends and Flabby Abs.
At midseason, who should be the NFL’s most valuable player, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes or the Rams’ Todd Gurley?
STONESTREET: Well, obviously Mahomes. Both are worthy, and it’s hard to negate anything either one has done. Both are surrounded by a lot of great players. But the level of efficiency of the Chiefs’ offense is performing at this year, with basically the same players as last year — minus Sammy Watkins, of course — makes Pat the choice for me.
BURRELL: I don’t think you can pick anybody but Gurley. It reminds me of what Adrian Peterson was doing in 2012. He’s dominating from a position that requires service, which is much more difficult than being a quarterback. I understand that quarterbacking is one of the more difficult tasks in sports, but to dictate the pace of a game from the secondary position of running back is even more impressive to me.
So what happens Monday night?
BURRELL: I believe that Sean McVay has been studying KC’s offense for quite a while, if I’m not mistaken. I feel like Wade Phillips also has valuable experience against them from his Denver days too. My prediction is that we have our best defensive game of the season, and, though it’ll still be high scoring, the Rams will prevail. Somewhere around 131-121.
I will add that, castmate competition aside, I’m loving watching the Chiefs this year. Mahomes is electric, and I’ve always liked Reid as a coach. It’s hard not to root for a smallish-market team that’s putting it all together like they are. Though I’ll find a way.