Game Scout: Chiefs at Redskins

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Washington Redskins (3-9)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at FedExField, Landover, Md. - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: Remember that Chiefs defense that was terrorizing quarterbacks and held each of its first nine opponents to no more than 17 points? Kansas City allowed an average of 34.3 points while losing to Peyton Manning twice and Philip Rivers once over the past three weeks. QB Alex Smith has started pushing the ball downfield more often, which has in turn opened bigger rushing lanes for Jamaal Charles, but this still isn't an offense that can single-handedly lead many victories. The Redskins ratcheted up the pass rush last week, and a key will be how the secondary holds up with most resources dedicated toward containing Charles. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III still lacks the explosion he displayed as a rookie, but did post season highs with 12 carries for 88 yards last week. That extra dimension will be important in exploiting the Chiefs' 21st-ranked run defense, especially with his receivers plagued by drops in key situations last week.
*Matchup to watch - Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams: Hali has 9.0 sacks, but he is also likely to be without cohort Justin Houston (elbow) on the other side. Williams struggled against the 49ers' Aldon Smith two weeks ago, but generally has held up very well against elite rushers. Hali could move around to take advantage of slow-footed RT Tyler Polumbus.
*Player spotlight - Redskins OLB Brian Orakpo: He finally appears to have his burst back, with 5.5 of his 8.5 sacks on the season coming in the past four weeks.
*Fast facts: Chiefs head coach Andy Reid seeks to become the 21st coach in NFL history with 150 career wins. ... Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan is one of two NFL players with 20-plus sacks and two-plus interception returns for touchdowns over the past three seasons.
The Chiefs have an opportunity to rebound following a three-game skid that has validated critics' claims that they didn't beat anyone of note during a 9-0 start. Upending the Redskins won't change that perception, either, but K.C. does get back on track defensively for an important road win.
*Our pick: Chiefs 26-23