Weather forecast: Snow before 1pm, then freezing rain and sleet between 1pm and 4pm. High near 31. North wind 7 to 9 mph.
Line: Chiefs -3, Over/Under: 44
The Chiefs are 6-6 ATS.
The Chiefs are 4-1 ATS away.
The Chiefs are 5-4 ATS as the favorite.
The Chiefs are 3-0 ATS as an away favorite.
The Redskins are 3-9 ATS.
The Redskins are 2-4 ATS at home.
The Redskins are 1-7 ATS as the underdog.
The Redskins are 1-3 ATS as a home underdog.
After the last three games in which the Chiefs faced a pair of hot quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers), this week they face a much different style of quarterback playing the Redskins and Robert Griffin III. While Manning and Rivers are statues in the pocket, Griffin can get out and run. The Chiefs defense will have to not only conjure up a pass rush that has been lacking for the past month, but they'll have to find a way to keep RG3 contained in the pocket.
Defense got the Chiefs to 9-0 and a lack of top defensive play was the lead cause of 0-3. It will take better defense for Andy Reid and his team to turn things back in a positive and winning direction.
Although offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has oddly gone away from battering ram running back Alfred Morris at times (especially in the second half of tight games with Denver and the Giants), Washington is leading the league in rushing for a second straight season while ranking just 16th in passing. Given that Kansas City has been weaker against the run than the pass, that would seem to dictate an attack on Sunday that features plenty of Morris (996 yards) as well as quarterback Robert Griffin III (460) taking off with the ball. Pierre Garcon (84 catches) has clearly been Griffin's favorite receiver this year, a situation that has become even more obvious with rookie tight end Jordan Reed (45) sidelined the past two games. Reed's status for Sunday is in question as is the case for Chiefs leading pass-rusher Justin Houston. The latter should be a relief for a Redskins offensive line that allowed 19 sacks the past four games after surrendering just 14 during the first eight contests.
During his 14 seasons in Philadelphia, head coach Andy Reid always preferred to throw the ball rather than keep it on the ground. Even his top backs, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, were all dangerous as receivers. The latter remains the case in Kansas City where Jamaal Charles is not only the leading rusher (1,011 yards) but also the leading receiver (55 catches). However, the coach's Chiefs offense has been much better running the ball (11th) than throwing it (23rd). That's good news for the Redskins, who are 13th against the run but just 27th against the pass. What's more, three of Washington's four starters in the secondary, top cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty took limited or no work on Wednesday. The Redskins had nine sacks during the past four games, 5.5 of them by outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who leads the team with 8.5.
"You get to look in their eyes and see what it's all about ... I don't see any flinch in these guys at all. There is a certain toughness about them." -- Coach Andy Reid talking about his team in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
"Players know when you're playing for the future. Players know that your job is to play the best players that give you the best chance to win. If you want to see a team turn on you, just go start playing younger players and start playing for the future." -- Coach Mike Shanahan when asked about playing younger players with the Redskins having been eliminated from contention.
--Chiefs ILB Derrick Johnson vs. Redskins RB Alfred Morris -- The Redskins are the league's best team in the run game, averaging 150.4 yards per game thanks to Morris, who is just four yards away from cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season. The Chiefs are No. 21 among NFL defenses against the run and the key to success for the K.C. defense in stopping Morris will be Johnson. The zone blocking scheme favored by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is something Johnson is very familiar with since the Chiefs defense has seen it for years with the Broncos. Johnson leads the Chiefs with 92 total tackles.
--Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles vs. Redskins MLB London Fletcher - Charles went over 1,000 yards for the season last Sunday and he's back to producing more in the run game than as a receiver. In the last two games he has run for 208 yards on 33 carries, a healthy 6.3-yard average, while catching just six passes for 69 yards. With Alex Smith throwing more passes down the field, it has started to open up the line of scrimmage for Charles. The 38-year-old Fletcher has 110 tackles in his 16th NFL season and if there's one thing the Washington defense has shown it can do its stop the run, allowing 108.8 yards per game to rank No. 14 in the league.
--Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali -- Williams won his matchups with star pass rushers Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen during the first nine weeks. However, Philadelphia's Trent Cole and San Francisco's Aldon Smith beat him the next two games and then he bruised his foot last week. With fellow elite pass rusher [B]Justin Houston ailing, Hali, who had nine sacks in seven games but has none since, needs to get back in gear.
--Redskins ILBs Perry Riley and London Fletcher vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles -- Riley and old man Fletcher are the top tacklers for a defense that ranks 13th against the run and hasn't allowed an opposing back -- including standouts Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and Matt Forte -- to gain more than 91 yards since Week 2. The dynamic Charles leads the NFL in first downs, is second in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns, third in rushing and fourth in catches by a running back.
ESPN Game 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.