Chiefs look to keep perfect record intact against Raiders
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has seen the Oakland Raiders enough over the past few years in the rugged AFC West that he knows quite well how difficult it is to be beat by them.
The fact that the Washington Redskins dismantled the Raiders last week?
Well, that certainly left an impression.
“That doesn’t happen often at all,” Smith said. “That’s a really, really good unit, run and pass, and they just got suffocated. They got behind, became one-sided and weren’t able to get anything going.”
Now, the Redskins (2-1) will try to carry the momentum from that 27-10 win over Oakland into a marquee Monday night matchup in Kansas City.
The Chiefs (3-0) are one of two unbeaten teams NFL heading into Week 4, which means another chance for Washington to prove it’s for real.
“This is a big test for us, a national stage,” Smith said. “Any time you get this opportunity, you have to go out and re-prove yourself. It doesn’t matter what you did the last three weeks.”
Those last three weeks have been remarkable, though.
As impressive as the Redskins’ win over Oakland was the Chiefs’ season-opening victory in New England, when they swatted Tom Brady and Co. on the night they raised a Super Bowl banner.
The Chiefs were solid a week later against Philadelphia, then ground out a 24-10 road win over the Chargers last week.
So it’s safe to say both teams have some momentum heading into Monday night.
“Every game is its own entity,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “We’ve been able to win the last couple games, but things in this league are fickle, and you really have to go have a great day the very next day to make it in this league.
“We don’t feel like it’s a momentum thing or riding a wave. We just have to come to work this week and go into Kansas City with the right mindset to have a chance.”
Situated in different conferences, the Redskins and Chiefs rarely play each other. This will be the 10th meeting between teams with plenty of pedigree. But the Chiefs have won six straight dating to 1983, a full five years before Cousins was even born, and have swept all four games at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s going to be as loud as possible,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “That’s something that’s hard to prepare for on a practice field out here on a sunny day in Ashburn, Virginia.”
As the Redskins and Chiefs prepare for their showdown, here are some key story lines:
DEFENSE, DEFENSE: The Redskins bring the league’s fifth-rated defense into Kansas City after it held the Raiders to 128 yards total offense. At its epicenter is a front seven, led by Ryan Kerrigan, that dropped Derek Carr four times and produced six tackles for loss.
“They’ve got a very good pass rush, their defense is playing very well. Starts up front for them,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, whose own offensive line has struggled in pass protection.
“They have a very strong front seven, period, their linebackers, too. And we’ve got to do a better job up front.”
HAPPY HUNTING: Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was the AFC offensive player of the month after he led the league with 401 yards rushing, caught nine passes for 137 yards and reached the end zone five times.
“I think he’s got great contact balance,’ Gruden said. “He can run through arm tackles. He has great vision. You just never know with a young guy like that how his contact balance is. … He’s a danger out of the backfield. He’s definitely one of the guys you have to have circled going into the game.”
OTHER CIRCLED PLAYERS: The other name Gruden mentioned was tight end Travis Kelce, who will try bouncing back from a poor game in Los Angeles. He had just one catch for a single yard after hauling in eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown the previous week against the Eagles.
CAP’N KIRK: Cousins largely struggled through the first two weeks, but he was 25 of 30 for 365 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Raiders. “We’re going to have to bring it on Monday night,” he said. “I know the Chiefs will be ready.”
THE BUTT-KICKER: The Chiefs placed kicker Cairo Santos on injured reserve with a groin issue this week, which means rookie Harrison Butker — or @buttkicker87, as he’s known on Twitter — will make his NFL debut in primetime. He was claimed off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad. “What a way to start my career,” the former Georgia Tech standout said. “I’m looking forward to it.”