Warpath Preview: Skins vs. Chiefs

The Redskins' close loss in Denver didn't seem top bruise their confidence much, but they do have some things to worry about on Sunday, guys named Holmes, Gonzalez, and Hall

Ignore: Any problems by Kansas City's offensive line in its last few games. The Chiefs were playing minus 10-time Pro Bowler Willie Roaf, but he's back this weekend and should make a tremendous difference. He and guard Will Shields are two of the best in the game.

Concern?: With the Redskins' run defense? Not just yet. Last week was only two plays and the interior of the defense was not the problem. But they still allowed two runs for a combined 89 yards. That's never good. But this defense has proven itself over the last year and a half so we'll give them a break. Thing is, if certain guys keep making mistakes or don't get to the ball, then why the heck are they out there instead of others who can make big plays?

Where are the plays: Don't want to overload you with stats, but consider this: Visiting teams are 3-28 when losing the turnover battle. One of those wins? Washington's Week 2 triumph at Dallas. But if the Redskins think they can keep winning without forcing turnovers -- especially at KC -- then they're wrong. And I know they don't think that way. Why aren't they turning it over? Because the blitzes aren't getting to the quarterback and there's no playmaker among the front seven. I love Marcus Washington, but in his 20 games in Washington has forced one fumble, has no interceptions and only 4.5 sacks. He's a playstopper, but not a playmaker.

Defensive focus: Stop the KC running game, a two-headed monster with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. KC hasn't been passing as well this season, partly because they haven't had the time to throw deep. But if the running game gets going, the Chiefs will suddenly find that time.

Got to stop:Tony Gonzalez in the red zone. He only has 16 passes and hasn't gone downfield as much, but he's a major threat in the scoring area. Always will be. Fortunately for Washington, it has Sean Taylor to help out. Few teams have a safety with the size and athleticism of Taylor to cover a guy like Gonzalez. If he's matched too often against the linebackers, watch out.

Offensive focus: Throwing downfield. KC has stopped the run fairly well, save for the game against Denver. But the Chiefs stink in pass coverage, with 61 of the 79 first downs they've allowed coming through the air. Corner Dexter McCleon can be picked on. There's not much of a pass rush; the front four are more focused at stopping the run. There's some talent on defense, but it hasn't yet jelled. So the Redskins can take advantage.

Mood of the team: The Redskins have been very upbeat this week for a team coming off a tough loss. Why? They're confident and they feel they should have won last week. They also like what they've seen of the offense the past two games, causing everyone to feel better.

Consider this: The Redskins have gained at least 323 yards in every game this season; they didn't gain that many in a game until Week 12 last year.

Beware: Dante Hall. The Redskins' kick coverage needs to be sharp or Danny Smith will feel the heat because of the Chiefs' dangerous returner. Look for more of those pooch kickoffs. But the punts had better be good, too. Though Hall is better on kickoffs, he's also a threat on punts. And if Derrick Frost has another mediocre game, a long return is possible.

And this: The Chiefs have blocked two field goals this season. So close your eyes when Nick Novak lines up.

Prediction: It makes no sense why I'm about to do this, but I believe in the Redskins' offense. So I'm going to go that way. Now, if Shawn Springs doesn't play, it makes a tremendous difference. But KC's wideouts are not major threats. At least they shouldn't be. If the Redskins stop the run they'll be in good shape. They need to cause two turnovers to win at Arrowhead. Call me stupid (and get in line if you want to), but I think they will.

Skins 21, Chiefs 20.


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