When: Sunday, Dec. 8
Time: Noon, CT
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
TV Broadcast: CBS-TV, Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots, commentators; DirecTV – 712; NFL Red Zone
Radio Broadcast: Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus and Len Dawson, commentators; Kendall Gammon – sideline reporter. Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM); Play-by-Play: Enrique Morales, Color Commentator: Oscar Monterroso, Sideline Reporter: Ricardo Soto.
SIRIUS: 137 (KC), 117 (Was.). XM: 230 (Was.).
The Kansas City Chiefs might have a 9-3 record and be on the brink of setting another NFL record for a franchise on the rebound, but their three game losing streak has made this Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins as close to a “must-win” that a successful team can have.
The 2013 Chiefs are already the first team in NFL history to begin a season 9-0 following a year with two or fewer wins. If they get Win #10 against the Redskins on Sunday, they’ll tie the 1963 Oakland Raiders and 1975 Baltimore Colts for the third-most wins by a team that won two games or fewer the year before. The 2008 Miami Dolphins and 2012 Indianapolis Colts hold the league record with 11 wins.
If the Chiefs can sort out a few problems on defense, they will definitely challenge the league record by getting 12 wins the year after winning two.
The first step starts on Sunday, and the Chiefs probably couldn’t have picked a better opponent to break their losing streak. In 2012, the Redskins parlayed a weak schedule and a hot quarterback into a 10-6 record, an NFC East title, and a quick exit out of the playoffs.
If that sounds familiar to Kansas City fans, it’s pretty much the formula former coach Todd Haley used in 2010 to make the playoffs with a very flawed Chiefs team. And, as fans also know, things went downhill quickly after that.
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has never fully recovered from his 2012 knee injury and doesn’t have the quickness and mobility that made him such a threat. The defense is led by lineman Brian Orakpo, who is a serious pass rushing threat, and by 112-year old London Fletcher, who seemingly has been playing pro football since Abraham Lincoln was in office.
The ‘Skins rack up a lot of yardage on offense, but not much scoring. On the other hand, the defense gives up even more yards and a TON of points to the opposition. Now that Kansas City has gone through an emotional and physical four-game gauntlet against Buffalo, San Diego, and Denver (twice), they should be able to respond well against Washington and get back on the right track.
Here are three things Chiefs fans should be watching for during Sunday’s game if the Chiefs are going to beat Washington:
Remember that they own the NFC East: In three victories against the NFC East division this year, the Chiefs have had one 17-16 nail-biter against Dallas, one tight game that became a comfortable 10-point win against Philly, and then a 31-7 blowout win against the NY Giants. A win Sunday gives the Chiefs a sweep of the East and the Chiefs need to take advantage. Every year, a “surprise” team makes the playoffs because they beat struggling teams in weaker divisions. In 2010, the playoff-bound Chiefs swept the NFC West, which might have been one of the weakest divisions in the last 20 years. That was the year Seattle won the division with a 7-9 record. Kansas City knew the last four games would be tough – and they were. Historically, Buffalo has given KC fits since the days of Marv Levy, Jim Kelly, and Bruce Smith … the Chargers Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning of the Broncos have a combined 23-5 career record against the Chiefs … and despite that, the Chiefs were maybe 4-5 plays away from going 3-1 against those teams. On the flip side, the Chiefs own a 7-1 franchise record against Washington with their only loss coming 30 years ago in 1983. Keep losing teams losing, especially when they’ve always lost to you.
Sell out to stop the Redskins running game: There is an excellent chance of rain, sleet, and/or snow in Washington on Sunday which might make the passing games for both teams an afterthought. And, with Mike Shanahan as head coach, there is an excellent chance the Redskins offensive linemen will have Vaseline all over their jerseys too. (Oh, like he NEVER did that as coach of the Broncos against KC!!) Unfortunately for Kansas City, the Redskins have the #1 rushing attack in the league and that could fit into their game plan if the game is close. Look for Kansas City to try and stop the run by putting 8 or 9 guys “in the box” and forcing the Redskins to throw. Despite their abysmal performance over the last three weeks, the Chiefs should trust their secondary to be able to cover the Redskins wide receivers better. Honestly, none of them would be starting on Denver’s roster, and only Pierre Garcon would be a starter in San Diego.
Hit RGIII every chance they get: A young QB frustrated beyond belief with his inability to overcome his injuries and fighting with almost everyone on the coaching staff (and some of his offensive teammates), and already eliminated from the playoffs is the perfect guy to hit early and often for the Chiefs defense. Not talking about dirty hits or cheap shots, but hit him every chance the defense gets. Last week, the Redskins ran a reverse to a wide receiver and RGIII ran out to help block. One of the NY Giants cornerbacks basically ignored the runner – trusting the linebacker next to him to make the play – and he hit Griffin so hard, it knocked the QB backwards nearly five yards. Before that play, Griffin has completed 11 passes in a row. After that? Not so much …..
Prediction: Now that the perfect season is over … the AFC West title shot is most likely over … and the quest for the #1 seed in the playoffs is over, Kansas City can refocus on these last four games and head into the playoffs with a head of steam. This should be the easiest game left on their schedule by far, and when you’ve lost three games in a row, you’ll have no problem focusing on the opponent. Washington takes an early lead in the first half, but cannot hang with the Chiefs in the second and the Chiefs have an easy fourth quarter.
Score: Chiefs – 31, Redskins – 13.
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