The tradition of Monday Night Football returns to Arrowhead Stadium tonight as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Washington Redskins. The Chiefs come into the game red hot after starting the season 3-0 with wins over the Patriots, Eagles, and Chargers; and are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. The Redskins aren’t slouches themselves, as they come in with a 2-1 record having won back to back games over the Rams and Raiders after a week 1 loss to the aforementioned Eagles. I feel like a broken record when I say this is a massive matchup for the Chiefs, but it really is. Over the last 3 seasons the Redskins have been a mixed bag of a team. They won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, but finished 3rd in the division in 2016 with an 8-7-1 record. Their offense is typically high powered, lead by Kirk Cousins, and features a big play passing attack. Their running game has been inconsistent at best, but features an excellent stable of young RBs that can make a defense pay. Defensively, they don’t bring a lot of big name players, but they bring a technically sound group. The only names that jump off the page at you are CB Josh Norman and Mizzou product DT Ziggy Hood. Last week was by far their biggest defensive output of the season as they stymied a normally high powered Raider offense and hit Derek Carr a lot. So, with all of that in mind, what are the keys to victory for the Chiefs? I think there are 4.
- Get your playmakers involved early and often. – Last week against the Chargers, Travis Kelce was non-existent; rookie sensation Kareem Hunt didn’t really break out until the 4th Quarter; and Tyreek Hill wasn’t being put in position to make big plays. The Chiefs have either the 1st or 2nd most dynamic trio of playmakers in the NFL. Got to get them involved early and often to set the tone in this one.
- Pressure Cousins early and often. – The last several games, the Chiefs’ pass rush has been inconsistent. Yes, on paper it comes back that they’ve gotten X number of sacks, and this player did good, that player did good, etc. However, the pressure isn’t consistent and it’s not usually coming until late in the game. With Dee Ford out this week, we’re going to see a lot more of Frank Zombo and rookie Tanoh Kpassagnon. The Redskins have too many weapons to give Cousins time to find. Pressure must be consistent from the first quarter to the last.
- Get the crowd involved from the start! – We all know the Chiefs Kingdom has the loudest fans in the world, and that those people can/do make an impact on the game. If the Chiefs come out and set the tone early on offense and defense, the crowd will get involved and help to disrupt anything and everything Washington wants to do on offense.
- Stay composed and disciplined. – One of the things that has been lost in the shuffle through the first 3 weeks of the season, is that the Chiefs have been the most penalized team in the NFL. They have been able to overcome it so far, but that is a trend that must stop! Kansas City has a lot of passionate players and sometimes that passion gets the better of them. Guys like Josh Norman and Terrell Pryor are instigators and will try and get the Chiefs to react and get flagged. They can’t let that happen. I’ll just leave it as this, passion is fantastic, but it has to be reigned in to play within the confines of the game. Penalties cannot become the identity of this football team, and they MUST stay composed. You don’t play in Oakland, have some pride.
On a bit of a somber note, the Chiefs said goodbye earlier this week to kicker Cairo Santos. Santos burst onto the scene with the Chiefs back in 2014 as the only Brazilian born player in the NFL. Santos battled a groin injury throughout the offseason, and then had it re-injured a week ago against the Chargers. He was placed on IR and the Chiefs signed a new rookie kicker named Harrison Butker. After a couple days of practice, they waived Santos and made Butker the guy going forward. Santos will always be remembered for this:
Hopefully Butker is everything coach Taub and the rest of the staff believe him to be. As Chiefs fans, we all know how important the kicker can be and is to a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
I’ll be live tweeting the game from the press box and I’ll have video posted online of the team coming back in aswell. Pregame coverage tonight begins at 6:00 PM with kickoff to follow around 7:25 exclusively on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100!