December 7, 2013

Chiefs-Washington scouting report

The Chiefs try to stop a three-game losing streak when they take on Washington at noon Sunday in Landover, Md. The game will air on CBS.
When the Chiefs run EDGE >> CHIEFS

The Chiefs have really cranked the running game up in recent weeks. Jamaal Charles is starting to break the runs of 20 yards or more that eluded him earlier this season. Washington is pretty sturdy against the run, though, so the added push guard Geoff Schwartz and tackle Donald Stephenson has given the Chiefs in the running game will almost certainly come in handy.

Chiefs’ top rusher No. Yds. Avg. TD
Jamaal Charles 219 1,011 4.6 9
When the Chiefs pass EDGE >> CHIEFS

Quarterback Alex Smith has performed very well the last two weeks, completing 65 percent of his pass for 587 yards for five touchdowns and two interceptions. What’s more, the offensive line is coming off one of its best performances of the season. The Chiefs need to find a way to block star outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has a sack in each of his last four games, but as a whole, Washington’s defense can be had through the air.

Chiefs’ top QB C A Yds. TD-I
Alex Smith 261 440 2,736 16-6
Chiefs’ top WR No. Yds. Avg. TD
Dwayne Bowe 45 533 11.8 4
When Washington runs EDGE >> WASHINGTON

If there’s one thing this Washington thing can do, it’s run. Washington leads the NFL in yards per carry and has two capable threats in powerful running back Alfred Morris and star quarterback Robert Griffin III, though the latter hasn’t been as explosive as he was last season. The Chiefs have fared OK against the run for the most part, but Washington features a college-style offense that is somewhat similar to the one the Eagles used to gash the Chiefs for a season-high 264 rushing yards in week three.

Washington’s top rusher No. Yds. Avg. TD
Alfred Morris 206 996 4.8 6
When Washington passes EDGE >> WASHINGTON

Griffin has been no world-beater while directing Washington’s passing attack, but he’s fairly efficient, as his completion percentage would attest, and the Chiefs have been getting torched through the air in recent weeks. The Chiefs would love to get after Griffin, but that could be difficult without outside linebacker Justin Houston to take some attention away from Tamba Hali, who will be going against one of the league’s premier left tackles in Trent Williams.

Washington’s top QB C A Yds. TD-I
Robert Griffin III 262 430 3,039 15-11
Washington’s top WR No. Yds. Avg. TD
Pierre Garcon 84 980 11.7 3
Special teams EDGE >> CHIEFS

While the Chiefs have been strong in each area of special teams, Washington has largely been a mess. Washington allowed punt return touchdown in three straight games earlier this season and also had a miscue in a loss to the Giants on Sunday, when a terrible snap led to a blocked punt that eventually resulted in the go-ahead touchdown.

Coaching EDGE >> CHIEFS

Washington is mired in the midst of four-game losing streak, and along the way there’s been plenty of speculation about the health of the relationship between Griffin and coach Mike Shanahan. That’s never good for the harmony of a locker room. So while Shanahan is a two-time champion, the edge goes to Andy Reid, who boasts a less-impressive resume but is still a respected coach.

X-factor EDGE >> CHIEFS

Aside from the potential issues between its star quarterback and coach, if you throw in the tension that comes with a 3-9 record — which comes only one year after a 10-6 season — it’s safe to say Washington is simply not a very happy football team. The Chiefs may be riding a three-game losing streak, but they’re still 9-3 and are close to clinching a playoff berth.

Bottom line: Chiefs 23-20

The Chiefs are the better team on paper, and after three straight losses, they should be plenty ticked off and ready to play. Washington presents some issues for a defense that has been in disarray in recent weeks, but Griffin is no Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers as a passer, and the Chiefs should have more answers for Washington than they did for the Broncos or Chargers.

Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com

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