COMMENTARY | Losers of three-straight games after running off nine-consecutive wins to begin the season, the Kansas City Chiefs visit the Washington Redskins this weekend -- who have actually lost four in a row themselves.
With a win and a loss by either the Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens, the Chiefs can reserve a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2010. The Redskins are just trying to salvage anything positive from a largely disappointing season.
Here are a few things to follow during Sunday afternoon's contest.
When: Sunday, December 8 at 1:00 p.m. EST on CBS
Where: FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
Players to Watch and Key Matchup: Marcus Cooper vs. Pierre Garcon
Fun Fact: Chiefs won the last meeting 14-6 back in Week 6 of 2009, in a game that featured zero touchdowns and a safety.
Chiefs Bold Prediction and Fantasy Beasts: Kansas City Explodes on Offense, Scores 40-Plus Points for First Time Since Week 12 of 2010 Season
Kansas City's calling card this season has been to lean on a strong defense and do just enough on offense to win games -- well, through the first nine weeks at least.
The Chiefs bolted out to a 9-0 mark, before dropping three-straight games. Coincidentally, the point at which their winning ways went sour was exactly when their defense turned soft and Alex Smith began to prove his detractors wrong.
Over the last three contests, Smith has thrown for 817 yards and seven touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe, while his numbers are still down, has been the top target in the passing game. And Jamaal Charles has been, well, Jamaal Charles.
The Redskins are giving up a second-worst 30.2 points per game, thanks to a pass defense that has yielded 265.3 yards per game, 8.6 yards per attempt and a total of 23 touchdowns. While the Chiefs will not consistently light up the scoreboard, this matchup should keep their offense rolling right along.
Expect another strong performance from Smith and Charles, and Bowe to possibly have his best game of the season.
Redskins Bold Prediction: RG3 Attempts 50-Plus Passes for Second Time in Career
Having Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III in the same backfield has helped the Redskins become the most productive rushing team in the NFL this season.
Averaging over 150 yards per game, Washington's offensive game plan is simple: run to set up the pass. But having seen Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers carve up the Chiefs defense over the past three weeks, Griffin and Co. could look to a more wide open approach on Sunday afternoon.
Washington's success in 2012 protected Griffin, allowing the quarterback to be very efficient when asked to throw the ball. At just 3-9 this season, the Redskins have had to claw and scratch through most games, which has forced Griffin to step out of his comfort zone a bit.
Kansas City clearly comes into this game as the better team, which should indicate the Chiefs to be in control on the scoreboard and Washington needing to throw the ball to keep up.
Griffin threw 50 passes back in a Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions, and could be in for a repeat performance against a Chiefs defense that has been vulnerable recently. But veering from the running game a bit should lead to...
Fantasy Bust: Alfred Morris
The Redskins will look to pass the ball this week, knowing that Kansas City is reeling defensively. While they may find success through the air, Morris stands to take a big hit should Washington lean away from regularly using him.
Morris is fourth in the league with 996 rushing yards, and adding six touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry. He is one-dimensional, however, chipping in just six receptions for 49 yards and zero touchdowns out of the backfield. And with Griffin expected to throw the ball a lot on Sunday, Morris' contribution will be severely limited.
Teams have typically had success running the ball against the Chiefs, who give up 117.3 yards per game on 4.6 yards per carry. Kansas City has only yielded six rushing touchdowns, however, and those are valuable in fantasy football.
His stature as one of the best running backs in the league probably makes Morris a must-start. But expecting an above average game might be asking too much, as the Chiefs will more than likely be focused on keeping him at bay.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Washington Redskins
- Alfred Morris
- Jamaal Charles