Many NFL fans are looking ahead to Monday's matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, and the league is sending a message about the game's importance with its selection of the officiating crew.
ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert reported the NFL is sending an "All-Star" referee team to Los Angeles. Clete Blakeman will work as the official referee alongside his usual umpire Ramon George and down judge Dana McKenzie.
The league picked the other five officials from a total of four crews.
"The approach is similar to how the NFL assigns officials to playoff games, a process that is based on performance and seniority rather than crew," Seifert wrote. "But it is rarely, if ever, employed before the postseason. Officials typically work on the same eight-person crews throughout the regular season to maximize continuity and familiarity among members."
Monday's game was originally scheduled to take place in Mexico City before issues with the Estadio Azteca turf forced the league to move it to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Even with the short notice afforded to fans, the Coliseum could have a postseason feel.
The Chiefs and Rams are each 9-1 and sit first and second, respectively, in overall efficiency, per Football Outsiders. Patrick Mahomes (3,150 yards) and Jared Goff (3,134) are also first and second in passing this season.
The Rams and New Orleans Saints combined for 80 points and 970 yards in New Orleans' Week 9 win, and similar offensive fireworks could be in store when the Rams cross paths with the Chiefs.
If it doesn't prove to be a preview of Super Bowl LIII, then Kansas City vs. Los Angeles is at least a battle between two of the top Super Bowl contenders. That the NFL would take the step of putting together a special officiating crew furthers the idea Monday night will be a special occasion.