WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
The Chiefs found some success through the air last week against the Cowboys, but face a much stiffer test this week in the form of Washington's third-ranked secondary. It's no fluke, as the Redskins are strong across the board at safety, cornerback and defensive end. The statistics reflect that, as Washington has given up only five touchdown passes
DeAngelo Hall, who was not good in Oakland a year ago, seems to have benefited from the move to Washington, where he is surrounded with more talent. The Redskins have plenty of speed in the secondary with Hall, Carlos Rogers and safety LaRon Landry. Nickel cornerback Fred Smoot is a name most fans will recognize, also. This is an athletic, deep and experienced secondary that figures to give KC's wide receivers fits.
Washington's pass rush focuses on three players – Andre Carter, Brian Orakpo, and the always dangerous Albert Haynesworth. Carter plays right end on early downs, with Orakpo lining up at strongside linebacker. When the Redskins bring out their nickel package, Orakpo puts his hand on the ground as a weakside defensive end, with Carter switching to left end.
Combined with Haynesworth's pocket-pushing power, the Redskins have a solid, if unspectacular pass rush. But there is enough athleticism here that the Chiefs should be worried. Orakpo, a rookie, hasn't been an overwhelming force yet, but his presence, along with Haynesworth's, may have rejuvenated the career of Carter, who has underachieved mostly.
Haynesworth will rush not only from the interior, but also as a right end in a 3-man line, with Orakpo playing the role of a stand-up pass rusher. There's several different players each of the Chiefs' tackles need to prepare for this week, so it's a difficult matchup, especially if left tackle Branden Albert misses time with his ankle injury. He's questionable and will be a game-time decision.
WHEN THE REDSKINS PASS
On paper, the Redskins have an explosive passing attack with Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle-El and tight end Chris Cooley. Quarterback Jason Campbell is experienced and accurate, and rookie receiver Malcom Kelly has added much-needed size to the passing game. But something isn't clicking.
One week, Campbell throws three interceptions, as he did in a loss to the Buccaneers two weeks ago. The next week, Chris Samuels goes down with a potential season-ending injury, and the Redskins allow five sacks in a loss to the Panthers.
Something is definitely awry with Washington's passing game. Last week against Carolina, the Redskins only built a 17-2 lead (before losing 20-17) because of two turnovers that placed the ball deep within Panthers' territory for easy touchdowns.
Samuels will not play against the Chiefs, but KC's pass rush has been abysmal this season. Can they get to Campbell, who has been sacked 14 times already this year? The Redskins appear to be a team that's far more adept at run blocking than pass protection, so there's a chance for Kansas City to generate some pressure here. Cooley, a Pro Bowl tight end, is a major mismatch for the Chiefs' linebackers.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
The statistics say Washington fields a below-average run defense, but it's deceiving. Because of their lackluster offense, the Redskins are ranked 27th in time of possession, meaning their defense spends plenty of time on the field. Despite that, the ‘Skins do a credible job against the run, and have allowed only two rushing touchdowns this season. Last week the Panthers were denied a touchdown despite four chances from the two-yard line.
It's unlikely the Chiefs, who have struggled to run the ball every week this year, will face a better defensive tackle than Washington's Albert Haynesworth. He signed a $100 million contract this offseason and has been worth every penny. Middle linebacker London Fletcher is flourishing playing behind Haynesworth and is averaging over 10 tackles a game, easily leading the league.
Can Chiefs' guard Brian Waters handle Haynesworth? We'll see just how far Waters has fallen from his Pro Bowl form this week, but look for Kansas City to double team Haynesworth from the beginning. That plays right into the Redskins' strategy, of course, because Fletcher, despite his age, can still run and blow up a play in the backfield.
WHEN THE REDSKINS RUN
The Redskins are huge up front, with only center Casey Rabach bringing down the average size of their linemen. Everyone else is at least 326 pounds, and right guard Mike Williams, a former tackle, may have finally found a home at guard. Williams' switch is reminiscent of the move the Dallas Cowboys made with Leonard Davis, who of course gave Chiefs' rookie end Tyson Jackson more than he could handle a week ago.
Can Jackson hold up against another enormous right guard for the second week in a row? The Cowboys were able to lean on the Chiefs a week ago, eventually wearing them down by the fourth quarter and springing Tashard Choice for big gains. The Redskins will hand the ball to Clinton Portis, who isn't destroying teams this season but has been consistent nonetheless.
Portis is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry but the issue might be Washington's passing game. It's too easy for opposing defenses to stack the box against the Redskins, who don't really throw the ball down the field despite the presence of Santana Moss. Like last week, however, the Redskins should eventually be able to wear down the Chiefs with their huge line.
The Redskins have a big-play threat at punt returner in Antwaan Randle-El, but don't block particularly well for him or kick returner Rock Cartwright. Washington's longest return this year is only 29 yards, which bodes well for the Chiefs considering their highly-ranked coverage units. Shaun Suisham is a consistent field-goal kicker, but his kickoffs aren't great. However, Washington's coverage units are outstanding.
The Redskins have the talent of a playoff team, but are struggling to put it all together. After a lackluster performance against a lousy Carolina Panthers' team, it's doubtful Washington overlooks the Chiefs at home.
The Redskins have underachieved, but are simply too talented for the Chiefs, especially at home where they are undefeated this season. Kansas City may find some success against a struggling Washington offense, but it could get ugly for Matt Cassel and Larry Johnson against Haynesworth and a defense that ranks near the top of the league.
Redskins 23, Chiefs 13
The Matchups - Chiefs vs Redskins
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