KC Chiefs’ game at Washington: inside a matchup of teams with unexpectedly poor records

·3 min read

Kansas City and Washington were division-winning playoff teams last season, so it seemed plenty reasonable when each brought similar expectations into this season.

So far, the results have been disappointing.

Both are 2-3. Each has experienced an 18-point loss to the Buffalo Bills, and both have dropped a home game to the L.A. Chargers. Washington had looked to lean on its defense this season, but that hasn’t happened. The so-called WFT ranks 28th against the pass and has surrendered the most passing TDs (14) in the NFL this season. Overall, Washington ranks only ahead of the Chiefs in team defense,.

All of which has coach Ron Rivera puzzled.

“I’m very frustrated,” he said. “We’ve got too many good football players to not be better than we are right now. But your record tells everybody what you are. That’s what we are.”

Same with the Chiefs. Here’s how the teams match up, and who has the edge in various departments.

When the Chiefs pass

Performances don’t come much worse for Patrick Mahomes than what he did last week. His passer rating was his second-worst yet in a regular-season game. He threw the second pick-six of his career. He also was sacked twice ... and the Bills didn’t blitz. Buffalo did an excellent job of bracketing Tyreek Hill and keeping Travis Kelce from making a big difference. How will the Chiefs respond to such a nightmarish game? We’ll soon find out.

Edge: Chiefs

When the Chiefs run

No Clyde Edwards-Helaire Sunday, which is unfortunate for the Chiefs, since he topped 100 yards against the L.A. Chargers and Eagles. He’s out with a knee injury, so Darrel Williams is in line to make his first NFL start. Williams has been a power back with a nose for the end zone. Look for veteran Jerick McKinnon to get more touches, too, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. Derrick Gore, who had a solid preseason, is up from the practice squad. Washington has been better against the run than pass.

Edge: Chiefs

When Washington passes

Taylor Heinicke has been solid, and his running ability can’t be overlooked. He’s also had an interception problem this season, with five. Top target Terry McLaurin was an all-rookie selection two years ago and followed up with a 1,118-yard season in 2020. Chiefs fans might remember Washington tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. He appeared in two games for the Chiefs last season and had one reception. Opponents have thrown for more yards against the Chiefs than Kansas City has passing yards.

Edge: Washington

When Washington runs

Antonio Gibson averages 62.6 yards per game and he’ll slip out of the backfield to catch a pass. He has a touchdown reception this season. Heinicke is the team’s second-leading rusher, and Buffalo’s Josh Allen went for 59 yards and a touchdown last week.

Edge: Washington

Coaching/special teams/intangibles

The Andy Reid Coaching Tree Tour continues. The Chiefs already have played former Reid assistants Kevin Stefanski (Browns), John Harbaugh (Ravens) and Sean McDermott (Bills). Now comes Rivera, who served on Reid’s Eagles staff from 1999-2003. ... KC’s Byron Pringle has fumbled a kickoff return in each of the last two games, losing one. But the Bills couldn’t turn the mistake into points. ... Our guess for Sunday’s outcome? The Chiefs boast the better roster and should prevail.

Edge: Chiefs

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