Chiefs-Redskins Preview

As much as the Kansas City Chiefs have struggled of late,

they’re still in much better shape than the reeling Washington

Redskins.

Though the Chiefs are trying to avoid a fourth consecutive loss,

they have a chance to clinch a playoff spot and hand the Redskins a

fifth straight defeat Sunday.

Kansas City is the first team in NFL history to win its first

nine games then lose three in a row. However, it leads the AFC

wild-card race and can secure its first playoff berth since 2010

with a win at Washington (3-9) and a loss or tie by Miami or

Baltimore on Sunday.

If the Chiefs tie the Redskins, they would need the Dolphins or

Ravens to lose.

“We still have everything we want in front of us,” quarterback

Alex Smith said. “It’s no time to point fingers or do anything like

that. Just continue to do what we’ve been doing.”

What the Chiefs have done since their Week 10 bye has not

worked.

Kansas City allowed 111 points through the first nine games

while facing two teams that currently have winning records – Dallas

and Philadelphia, both 7-5. The Chiefs since have sandwiched two

losses to Denver around a defeat to San Diego, giving up 103

points.

All three defeats came by 10 or fewer points. Six of their first

nine results were decided by the same margin.

“Earlier in the year we were coming out the other end of it,”

Smith said. “We just have to continue to fight. I think this team

has that kind of character.”

Kansas City didn’t allow more than 283 passing yards in the

first nine weeks but the Broncos and Chargers averaged 371.0 in the

last three. Peyton Manning threw for 403 yards with five touchdowns

and two interceptions in a 35-28 win at Kansas City last

Sunday.

Kansas City’s struggles against the pass might stem from a

recent lack of pressure. The Chiefs recorded 35 sacks in the first

seven games but have two in the past five and one during the

skid.

Justin Houston, the team leader with 11, could miss a second

straight game with an elbow injury.

Kansas City coach Andy Reid won’t use injuries or facing the

AFC-leading Broncos twice as an excuse for his team’s poor

play.

“I told the team this isn’t college football. This isn’t the end

of the season,” said Reid, who went 17-11 against the Redskins

during his 14 years in Philadelphia. “Now it’s important that we

get ourselves back and ready to go, and finish the season like

we’re capable of doing, and our guys, coaches and players, will do

that.”

Despite the slide, Kansas City ranks ninth in the league with

24.8 points allowed per game.

The Chiefs have posed a difficult challenge for the Redskins

through the years, going 7-1 and winning five straight in the

all-time series. Dwayne Bowe had six receptions for 109 yards and

Tamba Hali recorded a safety during Kansas City’s 14-6 win at

Washington in 2009 in a game that did not feature a touchdown.

Ending the head-to-head losing streak may not be easy for the

Redskins, who have been eliminated from playoff contention after

winning the NFC East last season.

“You don’t like to play for pride, but sometimes that’s the card

that’s dealt,” said coach Mike Shanahan, whose team last dropped

five straight during a six-game slide Oct. 16-Nov. 20, 2011.

“That’s where we’re at right now.”

Washington blew a 14-0 lead at home and lost 24-17 loss to the

New York Giants on Sunday. Though the officials’ incorrect movement

of the down marker on the Redskins’ final drive led the team to

believe it had a first down when instead it was third, Pierre

Garcon had the ball stripped after a reception two plays later that

would have given them the actual first down but instead sealed the

loss.

The Redskins also committed eight penalties and Alfred Morris

ran the ball twice after halftime en route to finishing with a

career-low 26 yards on 11 carries.

Though Washington’s postseason hopes have ended, Shanahan

insists his team will not quit.

“You play just as though you were in the playoffs,” he said.

“You want to spoil somebody else’s year. You want to play at a high

level. You’re always being evaluated for the future. And that never

changes.”

Robert Griffin III, who completed his first 12 passes for 111

yards, finished with 207 and a TD to become the fourth player since

the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to throw for at least 3,000 yards in each

of his first two seasons. He also ran for a season-high 88 yards on

12 attempts.

Garcon has a career-high 84 receptions and is 20 yards shy of

his first 1,000-yard season. He caught five passes for 125 yards

and two TDs against Kansas City in 2011 while with

Indianapolis.

Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles is second in the league with 1,463

total yards and tied for third with 11 overall touchdowns.