Game Preview, Week 4: Redskins at Chiefs

by Steve Thomas and Sean Conte

Make no mistake: this is the Redskins’ toughest challenge of the 2017 season to date, including the Raiders game.  The Chiefs offense has posted some other-worldly numbers and will pose a significant challenge to an improving Redskins defense, and are a big favorite over our boys in the eyes of the Vegas oddsmakers.  This is an AFC team, yes, and thus is perhaps less important than an NFC East game in the grand scheme of things, but the Redskins can prove quite a bit, on a national stage no less, by getting a win over Kansas City on the heals of last week’s beatdown of the Raiders.  If Washington wins this game, they can expect a rush of “are the Redskins for real” media coverage and national attention next week.  Lose, even if they play well, and it’s back to relative obscurity for a team that’s desperate to build some momentum.  It’s a tough situation, and we wouldn’t blame you for being pessimistic about it.  Remember, though, that the Redskins also have some advantages: quarterback Kirk Cousins finally got back on track last week, wide receiver Josh Docston showed up, and, if fate smiles upon them, both Robert Kelley and Jordan Reed might be back.  So all hope is not lost.  Things are darkest before the dawn.  It’s us against the world.  All of that stuff.  Here’s our preview of the big game:

Game time & location:          Monday, October 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri;                                                         Gates open 6:30 p.m. PT; parking lots open 3:30 p.m. PT

Television:                               ESPN

Television announcers:         Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters


DC-area radio:                         ESPN 980

Redskins radio network:

Chiefs radio network:   


Satellite radio:                         XM: 81/88 (Redskins broad./Nat’l broad.); Sirius: 81/88 (Redskins                                                                                 broad./Nat’l broad.); internet: 831 (Redskins broad.)


Redskins roster:            

Redskins depth chart:  

Chiefs roster:                

Chiefs depth chart:      


All-time head-to-head record vs Chiefs: 1 – 8 (last 5: 0 – 5)

Last meeting:  L, Dec 8, 2013, 10 – 45

Early odds: Chiefs, -7


Keep the Run Defense Going

Who would have thought that after an abysmal showing against RBs in 2016, the Redskins would be ranked 4th in that category the following year? Certainly not me. Washington has held Marshawn Lynch, Todd Gurley, and LaGarrette Blount to less than 100 yards, but this test against Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt might very well be the toughest. The rookie’s got 400 yards through 3 games. You do the math.

Keep the Run Offense Going

Kansas City has a great defense, but if they’re susceptible anywhere, it’s on the ground. The Chiefs let up about 80 yards to the Charger’s Melvin Gordon last week in the first half, before he left briefly with an injury. Kelley’s absence still hurts Washington, but if Chris Thompson can keep making big plays and the other guys can step up, we’ll have opportunities to strike on the ground.

Cover the Tight End

Let’s keep the trend of defensive improvement going by covering the TE well on Monday. Travis Kelce went ham last week with 8 catches for 100 yards. Kansas will utilize Kelce in underneath routes and deep routes alike, so I imagine plenty of players will get a swing at covering him, including a mix of linebackers, the slot corner, and the safety. Everyone should keep their eyes open this week.

Eliminate Mental Mistakes in the Passing Game

The Chiefs secondary will absolutely destroy us if we (Kirk) let them. The Chiefs defensive backfield took a lot of pressure off the guys up front last week by snagging two back-breaking interceptions within the first quarter. Both led to points. Right now their squad ranks well against QBs.

Play Smart, and Keep their Offense In Front of You

Receiver Tyreek Hill has a game speed around 21 MPH. Hunt seems like he does. As Jay Gruden pointed out, the Chiefs have scored from 50 yards or more several times this season. Those big, flashy plays can by morale-killing.


Kareem Hunt vs. Washington Front 7

Okay, maybe his RB numbers will come back to earth as we Hog Styers predicted on this week’s podcast. It could very well be us that finally puts a stop to Hunt.

Travis Kelce vs. LBs, DBs, etc

Kelce’s a stud, and as previously mentioned, they’ll utilize him in a number of ways. Everyone needs to stay on their toes with this guy.

Alex Smith vs. Everybody

Smith looks decisive and far more aggressive this year. Guys up front need to maintain pressure and log some hits. Guys in the backfield need to know their assignments and stick to them. Not rocket science here: stop this guy, he’s been red-hot!


I keep predicting wins and the Redskins keep winning. I’m okay with that. Once again, I think the Redskins will fall just a bit short against Kansas City this week. Call it 24 – 17. Prove me wrong again, boys.

OFFICIAL INJURY REPORT (as of Friday (active roster only)) (starters in bold)

LP – limited practice                           FP – full practice                     DNP – did not practice

NIR – not injury related                      Q – questionable                      O – out

Redskins Chiefs
T T. Nsekhe, core muscle; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP LB D. Ford, back; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP
LB M. Foster, shoulder; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP C M. Morse, foot; Thurs: DNP; Fri: DNP
RB R. Kelley, rib; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP T E. Fisher, back; Thurs: LP; Fri: DNP
DL M. Ioannidis, shoulder; Thurs: LP; Fri: FP LB K. Pierre-Louis, groin; Thurs: LP; Fri: DNP
TE J. Reed, rib/sternum; Thurs: LP; Fri: LP OL P. Ehinger, knee; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
CB J. Norman, shoulder; Thurs: FP: Fri: FP DT B. Logan, knee; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
S M. Nicholson, shoulder; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP WR D. Thomas, shoulder; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
RB S. Perine, hand; Thurs: FP; Fri: FP
DL J. Allen, shoulder; Thurs: not listed; Fri: LP
QB K. Cousins, NIR; Thurs: not listed; Fri: DNP
WR J. Crowder, hamstring; Thurs: not listed; Fri: LP
S D.J. Swearinger, hamstring; Thurs: not listed; Fri: LP



As you can see below, the Redskins’ dominating win over the Raiders last week resulted in a major uptick in many of the major offensive statistical categories; be cautioned, though, that even though it was a great victory and the team did well, the sample size for the season is still small enough to allow for such major swings.  For example, Kirk Cousins’ 365 yard day caused the Redskins to jump up 10 spots to number 11 in total passing yards.  Big picture, though, from a statistical point of view, is this: (1) the Redskins are still ranked fairly highly in rushing effectiveness (6th in yards, 7th in yards per attempt) despite a poor day by temporary starter Samaje Perine, and (2) Cousins has now brought his previously poor QB rating and completeion percentage up to 105.3 and 68.3, respectively, (which are both in line with 2016 levels).  Time of possession, ranked 3rd in the NFL is fairly dramatically skewed by the fact that the Raiders only held the ball for a little over 21 minutes on Sunday.  Red zone efficiency remains poor (ranked 27th), and third down conversions are mediocre.  Total points scored is middle of the pack, ranked 13th.  It is frankly still too early to get a good read on how this offense is going to stack up statistically.  The Chiefs should be another good test.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders game caused massive, dramatic upticks in just about every statistical measure.  The same caution applies here – this was only game three, so a great performance will cause rises like this.  We need to see a few more games before we can start to get a read on where the defense will really place amongst the rest of the NFL.  A few notes, though: the team has held the Eagles, Rams, and Raiders to an average of 62.3 rushing yards per game, which is 2nd in the league.  The Chiefs are currently the #1 rushing team in the NFL, so we’ll get a better sense of the true quality of the rushing defense on Monday night.  Also, you may note that the Redskins are ranked 7th in total yards surrendered, yet only 10th in points surrendered.  This is a direct reflection of the red zone turnovers the Redskins have coughed up this year, including 2 against the Raiders.  Finally, Washington has held opposing quarterbacks – i.e. Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Derek Carr, to an average 81.2 quarterback rating, which is 8th in the NFL.  Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is leading the league right now in that stat at 132.7.  So, it appears as though this game is going to be statistical strength on strength: Redskins successful passing defense versus the most efficent passing attack in the NFL, and the league’s best rushing attack versus a clearly improved Redskins rush defense.  Monday night will likely tell us quite a bit about how this defense stacks up.

Record 2 – 1 (AFC: 1 – 0; Away: 1 – 0; 1st, tied)

All-time franchise record: 588 – 573 – 28


Offensive rankings 13 (points) (trend -1) / 8 (total yards) (trend +6) / 8 (yards per game) (trend +7) / 8 (yards per play) (trend +6) / 11 (passing yards) (trend +10) / 6 (passing yards per att.) (trend +18)  / 6 (rushing yards) (trend -3) / 7 (rushing yards per att.) (trend -4)
Points for 71
Yards per game 373.7


97 att (18th); 66 comp; 68.0% comp per. (9th); 8.1 Y/A; 712 net yds; 5 TD; 1 Int
       Passing leader Cousins (97 att, 784 yds (9th), 68.0% comp perc., 5 TDs / 1 Int (16th), 105.3 QB rating (5th))
      Receiving leader Thompson (231 yds (14th), 13 rec (36th), 2 TDs, 17.8 Y/C); Crowder (113 yds, 13 rec (36th), 0 TDs, 8.7 Y/C (1st))
Rushing 90 att (6th); 409 yds; 4.5 Y/A; 136.3 Y/G; 2 TD
      Rushing leader Perine (40 att (20th), 116 yds, 0 TD, 2.9 Y/A (42nd), long 12); Thompson (14 att, 119 yds (31st), 2 TDs, 8.5 Y/A)
Sacks surrendered / rank 7 / 14
Ave time of possession / rank 33:23 / 3
3rd down conversion rate / rank 38.5 % / 16
TD percentage in red zone / rank 33.33 % / 27



Defensive rankings 10 (points) (trend +17) / 7 (total yards) (trend +20) / 5 (yards per game surrendered) (trend +21) / 12 (yards per play) (trend +16) / 13 (passing yards) (trend +15) / 15 (passing yards per att.) (trend +13) / 4 (rushing yards) (trend +5 / 7 (rushing yards per att.)  (trend +4)
Points against 60
Yards per game surrendered 276.0
Opponent’s passing 95 att (14th); 60 comp; 63.2% comp perc. (14th); 7.2 Y/A; 641 net yds; 4 TDs; QB Rating 81.2 (8th)
Opponent’s rushing  59 att (5th); 187 yds; 3.2 Y/A; 1 TD; 62.3 Y/G (2nd)
Sacks / rank / Sack leader 8 / 11 / Smith (3.0)
Tackles leader Brown (20)
Int / rank / Int leader 4 / 3 / Foster/Fuller/Kerrigan/Nicholson (1)
Opponent 3rd down conv rate / rank 35.14% / 12
Opponent TD percentage in red zone / rank 57.14% / 19


Special Teams

Kick returns 18.6 Y/R (24th), 5 returns, long 24 yards, 0 TDs
Punt returns 4.9 Y/R (24th), 8 returns, long 18 yards (15th), 0 TD
Kick return defense 18.8 Y/R (9th), 5 returns, 0 TD
Punt return defense 4.7 Y/R (8th), 6 returns, 0 TD
Punting 45.2 Y/P (20th)


Turnovers (lost by O / recv’d by D / net / rank): 6 / 7 / +1 / 10

Penalties (total accepted # / rank): 16 / 5


When you glance through the Chiefs’ offensive data in the chart below, you see the number “1” liste in quite a few places where the rankings are located.  Uh-oh, right?  Possibly, so, yes.  The Chiefs are 3rd in the NFL in scoring and total yards and 1st in yards per play, total rushing yards, rushing yards per attempt, completion percentage, and quarterback rating.  Plus, rookie running back Kareem Hunt is currently tops in the NFL in rushing yards and yards per carry.  As a team, the Chiefs have scored touchdowns on 75% of their trips to the red zone, which is also the best in the NFL.  If you want some good news, here it is: despite the flashy numbers, the Chiefs are actually mediocre in third down conversions and time of possession (18th); further, a good chunk of Hunt’s rushing yards have come on three big plays, 58 yards against the Patriots, 53 yards against the Eagles, and 69 yards against the Chargers – take those away and his numbers come back down to reality a bit.  Alex Smith has posted a career high quarterback raing thusfar despite being sacked 12 times (30th in the NFL).  Regardless, this game is a massive challenge for the Redskins.

Defensively, the Chiefs stats do not quite compare to their offensive numbers, although they do excel in some areas: opposing quarterbacks have only completed 50% of their passes this year, which is the lowest number in the NFL, and have only posted an average quarterback rating of 64.3, which is ranked 3rd.  However, their opponents have gained quite a few yards (ranked 28th in total yards), and have been somewhat suceptible to the run, being ranked only 20th in rushing yards per carry.  The Chiefs have been very good in the red zone, though, with opponents scoring touchdowns only 42.86% of the time, good for 9th.  This red zone defense directly contributes to far fewer points surrendered (57; ranked 8th) than their yardage surrendered numbers might suggest.  For the Redskins, performance in the red zone will therefore be crucial.

Record: 3 – 0 (Home: 1 – 0; NFC: 1 – 0; 1st)


Offensive rankings 3 (points) / 3 (total yards) / 3 (yards per game) / 1 (yards per play) / 13 (passing yards) / 4 (passing yards per att.) / 1 (rushing yards) / 1 (rushing yards per att.)
Points for 93
Yards per game 397.3
Passing 84 att (26th); 65 comp; 77.4% comp per. (1st); 9.2 Y/A; 706 net yds; 7 TDs; 0 Int
      Passing leader Smith (84 att, 774 yds (10th), 77.4% comp per., 7 TDs / 0 Int, 132.7 QB rating (1st))
      Reception leader Hill (253 yds (7th), 16 rec (19th), 2 TD, 15.8 Y/C)
Rushing 71 att (20th); 486 yds; 6.8 Y/A; 162.0 Y/G (1st); 5 TDs
      Rushing leader Hunt (47 att (12th), 401 yds (1st), 4 TDs, 8.5 Y/A (1st), long 69 yds)
Sacks surrendered / rank 12 / 30
Ave time of possession / rank 29:57 / 18
3rd down conversion rate / rank 37.1% / 18
TD percentage in red zone / rank 75.0% / 1



Defensive rankings 8 (points) / 28 (total yards) / 27 (yards per game surrendered) / 13 (yards per play) / 25 (passing yards) / 13 (passing yards per att.) / 18 (rushing yards) / 20 (rushing yards per att.)
Points against 57
Yards per game surrendered 369.0
Opponent’s passing 122 att (31st); 61 comp; 50.0% comp per. (1st); 6.9 Y/A; 772 net yds; 2 TD; QB Rating 64.1 (3rd)
Opponent’s rushing 78 att (16th); 335 yds; 4.3 Y/A; 4 TD
Sacks / rank / Sack leader 11 / 2 / Houston (4.0)
Tackles leader Terrance Mitchell (17)
Int / rank / Int leader 4 / 3 / Mitchell (2)
Opponent 3rd down conv rate / rank 41.86%/ 23
Opponent TD percentage in red zone / rank 42.86% / 9


Special Teams

Kick returns 26.8 Y/R (4th), 9 returns, long 42 yards, 0 TDs
Punt returns 4.0 Y/R (28th), 7 returns, long 9 yards (30th), 0 TDs
Kick return defense 21.0 Y/R (15th), 8 returns, 0 TDs
Punt return defense 6.0 Y/R (15th), 5 returns, 0 TDs
Punting 46.1 Y/P (16th)


Turnovers (lost by O / recv’d by D / net / rank): 1 / 5 / +4 /3

Penalties (total accepted # / rank): 33 / 32


* Statistics courtesy of,,,,,