Is there anything more overrated in sports than being a spoiler? I mean, if my team is out of it, I'm upset. It won't lift my spirits knowing that it can pull other teams down with it. Maybe I'm alone on that, but I don't think a lot of Washington Redskins fans will tune in Sunday merely to see if the mathematically eliminated 'Skins can hand the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs a fourth straight loss.
Instead, the focus should shift to individual performances and clues regarding what could await this time in the 2014 offseason and beyond. As we preview Sunday's matchup from the Redskins' perspective, we'll keep that in mind.
What Washington must do to win, offensive edition
Alfred Morris. It's as simple as that. This Chiefs defensive front is dangerous, and it gets a lot of pressure, but it's given up 4.6 yards per carry. Robert Griffin III has been getting assaulted, and the Redskins simply can't afford to throw him to the wolves at this point. Morris has to be the centerpiece of what must be a run-based attack.
What Washington must do to win, defensive edition
The key will really be to win the turnover battle with some big defensive plays, which is entirely possible. DeAngelo Hall has scored a trio of touchdowns on D this year, and a pick-six could swing this game. But I'd also like to see if this defense can contain Jamaal Charles, who is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the game. It'd be interesting to get a look at youngsters Perry Riley and Bacarri Rambo as run defenders and even in coverage against Charles.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan: Alex Smith hasn't been able to take advantage of blitzes and isn't particularly good under pressure. Bring the heat.
Morris: He's this team's offensive MVP, and he'll need to be at his best if the Redskins are going to pull off an upset against the league's fourth-best scoring defense.
Trent Williams: He's had a stellar season, but Williams and Tyler Polumbus will have to deliver against a pass rush that is quite fierce.
Riley: He and Fletcher will have to slow Charles down.
|Alex Smith, 2013|
|Pro Football Focus|
Injury analysis, Chiefs edition
Three big injuries for the Chiefs: Tight end Anthony Fasano is dealing with a concussion, left tackle Branden Albert has a knee injury and top pass-rusher Justin Houston missed last week's game against the DenveR Broncos due to an elbow injury.
They can live with Sean McGrath at tight end, and Donald Stephenson is a pretty darn good replacement for Albert, but Houston is tough to replace. That rush wasn't the same without him against Denver, which could be a big win for Griffin and the Redskins.
Injury analysis, Redskins edition
Tight end Jordan Reed should be back from a concussion, and an ankle injury won't likely be enough to keep Fletcher on the sideline. A few other guys have been limited this week, but Washington is quite healthy.
B/R NFC East blog prediction: Chiefs 28, Redskins 27
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Redskins put up a fight. They started strong against the Giants Sunday night, and RGIII is beginning to look a lot like his old self. Plus, I'm not sure how this young Chiefs team is going to react to three straight losses, especially on the road.
KC doesn't take a lot of chances through the air, so it's not a bad matchup for the Washington defense, but the difference here will be Griffin's lack of pass protection against a stellar front seven. A late turnover will prevent the 'Skins from pulling off the upset.