NFL Preview - Kansas City (9-3) at Washington (3-9)|
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Andy Reid is still the toast of the town in Kansas City
despite the fact his Chiefs are mired in a three-game losing streak following
a sizzling 9-0 start.
The Chiefs now see themselves one game behind the Denver Broncos for the AFC
West lead and shoot for a sweep of the NFC East Sunday against the struggling
Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Reid certainly has plenty of experience against the Redskins thanks to 14
years as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and has already beaten his
former team and both the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Those three wins
came in succession from Sept. 15-29.
Kansas City's latest setback was Sunday against Peyton Manning and the Broncos
in a 35-28 setback. The Chiefs had a 21-14 lead at halftime, but two Manning
touchdown passes in the third quarter was all the difference. Denver actually
notched 28 straight points until KC running back Jamaal Charles made it a one
score game on a one-yard TD run with 6:32 to go.
Manning and the Broncos racked up 535 yards of offense and the future Hall of
Fame quarterback passed for 403 yards with five TD strikes and two
interceptions. Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker burned the Chiefs' secondary
for 174 yards and four touchdown receptions, while Demaryius Thomas had 106
yards on just three receptions.
The Chiefs still impressed with 452 yards of offense, but it wasn't enough to
stop the current slide.
"I mentioned to the team that this isn't college football. This isn't the end
of the season. It's not the national championship game that you're playing,
it's two good football teams playing each other," Reid said. "We came up short
and now it's important that we get ourselves back and ready to go and finish
the season like we're capable of doing. I know our guys, coaches and players
will do that."
Alex Smith tried to go head-to-head with Manning and passed for 293 yards with
two TD passes and an interception. Smith has thrown seven TD passes to just
two picks in the last three games, and talked about the possibility of still
winning the AFC West.
"We just have to continue to fight. I think this team has that kind of
character," Smith said. "We just have to keep plugging along. There's still
everything we want in front of us. It was a tough loss (and there's) no time
to point fingers or do any of that. (We just have) to continue to do what
we've been doing and get better.
"Not to say that we still can't win the division, there still are a lot of
games left. Those things are out of our control at this point. We have to
focus in on what we have to do and that is to win ballgames. There certainly
are two other ways to get into the playoffs with the wildcard spots. We're
sitting pretty good with that."
Denver (10-2), Kansas City (9-3) and New England (9-3) have the best records
in the AFC at this point.
The Chiefs are 4-1 on the road and will play three of their last four games of
the season away from Arrowhead Stadium.
Washington's 2013 season has been a forgettable one and the Redskins were
officially eliminated from playoff contention after Sunday's 24-17 loss to the
New York Giants.
The Redskins were hoping for plenty of success this season after storming back
to win the NFC East in 2012. However, things took a turn for the worse and now
they're sporting a lowly 3-9 record.
"It's extremely disappointing," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. "We
had our expectations as to what we thought our season would be coming into the
year. Now, we're just playing for pride. That doesn't feel good on the first
day of December."
The Redskins, who won seven in a row after a 3-6 start last season and reached
the playoffs, have dropped four straight and will complete a stretch of three
straight games at home versus Kansas City. In the loss to the Giants, Robert
Griffin III completed 24-of-32 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, and also
ran for 88 yards on 12 rushes. Griffin, who had just one incompletion (16-
of-17) in the first half, posted more rushing yards than Alfred Morris. The
young running back had 26 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Washington gave up 10 points in the fourth quarter to squelch a 17-14 lead, as
Giants running back Andre Brown had a one-yard TD run and Josh Brown connected
on a 39-yard field goal to close out the scoring.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, whose job status could be in jeopardy at
season's end, was asked on how his approach changes now that his team is out
of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
"No difference. Obviously you're disappointed because your goal is to get to
the playoffs and we all know if you get to the playoffs you've got an
opportunity to win and win a Super Bowl, so that's your first goal," Shanahan
said. "But if you are eliminated you still want to go out and play some good
football. You'd sure like to win games. Everybody is very competitive, very
motivated, and people that aren't motivated even though they're out of it
usually don't last."
The 'Skins' defense appeared motivated until the fourth quarter versus New
York. Linebacker Brian Orakpo had two sacks for his eighth multi-sack game and
has at least one full sack in the last four games. Safety Brandon Meriweather
registered his second interception of the season and cornerback Josh Wilson
had a sack of Eli Manning.
Washington has struggled in eight lifetime meetings with Kansas City, losing
the last five matchups and seven of eight overall. The Chiefs recorded a 14-6
win in the last meeting on Oct. 18, 2009 in Landover. Washington's only win in
this series was a 27-12 triumph back on Sept. 18, 1983.
Reid is 17-11 lifetime against the Redskins and Shanahan sports an 18-15 mark
in matchups with the Chiefs.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Griffin has been the polar opposite of last season in many ways, and the main
reason for this year's decline is the knee issue and lack of protection. RG3
made a miraculous comeback from a devastating knee injury and he may have been
rushed back too quickly. He has thrown for 3,039 yards with 15 TDs and 11
interceptions, while passing for 3,200 yards, 20 TDs with five INTs in 2012.
RG3 has been sacked 33 times already, as opposed to 30 times last season. His
88 rushing yards Sunday were the most since he had 89 against New York last
Oct. 21. Griffin became the fifth QB in NFL history to post 3,000 passing
yards in each of his first two seasons.
Opposing players have noticed Griffin's decline this season. Giants defensive
back Antrel Rolle is one of them.
"A lot of teams have been getting after him a whole lot better this year for
whatever reason. I don't know if it's he can't escape the way he used to
escape or his line isn't holding up," Rolle said. "I just know he has been
getting hit. He's been getting sacked a whole lot more than we're used to
Rolle then said Griffin still has a "cannon for an arm," but isn't as elusive
as he was during his rookie campaign. Griffin's 88 yards may say otherwise and
the Chiefs still have to prepare for him and Morris. Morris helped the
Redskins run for 139 yards and the team leads the NFL: with 1,805 yards on the
ground with an average of 150.4 per game. Washington has rushed for at least
100 yards in 11 consecutive games, two shy of matching the team's longest
streak of the Mike Shanahan era (13).
The Chiefs are 21st in rushing yards allowed (117.2), passing yards allowed
(249.0) and total yards allowed (366.2). They have totaled 37 sacks on the
season and are led by Justin Houston's 11 sacks. Houston did not play against
the Broncos because of an elbow injury, but Reid said his stud OLB is on the
mend and could make a return this week.
Kansas City's other OLB Tamba Hali shook off a balky ankle to face the Broncos
and finished with two tackles. Hali wasn't much of a factor against Denver and
neither was any other player on a defense that allowed 500-plus yards.
Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis wasn't pleased with Sunday's effort.
"It hurts," Lewis said. "It hurts; it hurts deep. It burns. It's good that
we're feeling this. We feel it; we just have to come back out next week and
put together a solid game, as far as everywhere, offense defense and special
Fellow safety Quintin Demps agreed.
"We're going to respond well," Demps said. "I know we have nothing but
fighters, no quitters; we're going to stay together. It's a long season; like
coach Reid says, it's not the NCAA, it's the NFL. We're going to stay together
and we're going to play together. We have to go back to the drawing board,
look at the film , evaluate each other, evaluate ourselves, be critical and
kind of put it behind us and finish the season strong."
Don't expect the Chiefs to play down to Washington's level because they're in
the hunt for a division title and any loss from here is vital. The Chiefs will
halt their current slide against a downtrodden Redskins unit, and expect
another scoring outburst in a winning effort.
Kansas City is averaging 33 points in the last two games and is ninth in the
NFL with 24.8 ppg this season.
Shanahan may have said the Redskins are still playing for pride, but life has
been drained from a team now on the outside looking in.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chiefs 31, Redskins 21
12/05 15:10:15 ET