1.) The Chiefs have lost three straight, albeit against great teams. Is the secret out on them? What have opponents figured out where they're putting up 35+ points in back to back games?
Tough to tell, honestly. The Chiefs played a lot of bad quarterbacks early on and to their credit the defense took advantage of them. My sense is that it's a combination of teams finally getting enough of them on tape and the fact that they played two of the best quarterbacks in the game. Peyton Manning is probably going to be the league MVP. Philip Rivers is having one of his best seasons. There's not a lot of shame in getting beat up by those guys because a lot of teams do it. That said, the Chiefs secondary has been getting torched. The blame really lies all over the place -- the safeties are slow getting there on deep balls and the corners have been getting beat in big situations. The pass rush has also been non-existent at times in the last month. That may be an area where teams have figured it out -- get the ball out so quickly that the Chiefs pass rush can't get to you.
2.) I know the start of the season probably clouded Chiefs fans' judgement, but now there have been a few losses...how has his Reid's clock management, play distribution, offensive playcalling, and press conferences been? For Eagles fans, it was a constant bemoaning.
Starting 9-0 builds a lot of goodwill. There is still overwhelmingly more good than bad about Andy Reid so far. There's something refreshing about his approach when your team is winning a lot of games. When they're losing, sure it's frustrating. Reid always takes the blame for what went wrong and never pinpoints a player specifically. The run vs. pass distribution has been a hot topic of conversation because the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles and, if you haven't heard, he's pretty good. But Jamaal is still having a hell of a season so even that debate hasn't been a loud one. There have been a handful of beefs with his clock management at key times as well. All that said, the Chiefs are 9-3. No one expected them to be here. So Reid has a long rope. At least until the playoffs.
3.) What is your take on Alex Smith? Is he stop gap, or a long term solution?
Boy, I just don't know. I guess the fact that we're 12 games into the season and that's my answer tells you something. Alex Smith has been good for the Chiefs this season. He's been just what they needed -- efficient and consistent. I can see how the Chiefs could be consistently competitive over the years with him at the helm. But will they consistently be competing for a Super Bowl with him? That's the question. It's hard to see teams with great quarterbacks repeatedly winning playoff games. The Chiefs are likely making the playoffs so we'll get our answer this year but as for the long-term question, I just don't know. That they gave up two second round picks strongly suggests the Chiefs see him as a long-term fix. He has one more year on his contract after this so some sort of resolution to that is coming. I would predict the Chiefs will extend his contract in some fashion after this season. It's hard to argue with the end results so far.
4.) Knowing what you know about the Chiefs defense, how would you scheme against it with the weapons the Redskins offense has? (important note: Our Oline can't hold blocks more than 2 seconds)
Get the ball out quickly. Like, really fast. Just don't let the Chiefs pass rush ruin the game for you. That's been what others have done recently and there has been some success. No one is as good as Peyton Manning so you probably won't be flinging the ball all over the field for 400 yards but teams can move the ball on the Chiefs if the quarterback can quickly get rid of the ball. That's the key to beating the Chiefs. They become a lot more ordinary when the pass rush isn't dominating.
Eric Fisher has been up-and-down this season. If you asked me before the season if he would struggle, of course I would say yes. But now that we're in the season it's frustrating at times to see him struggle. There isn't anything yet that has me overly-concerned about his future but he certainly hasn't dominated at the outset like some No. 1 picks have. Here's the interesting part about Fisher right now: Just last week against Denver, he was active but did not start. OT Donald Stephenson, who had been the reserve tackle, started in his place. Fisher has been dinged up with various injuries this season so that's a factor, too. Justin Houston is probably out this week after dislocating his elbow. If you get rid of the ball quickly then you'll negate the pass rush anyway. A lot of teams have one good pass rusher but not many have two like the Chiefs in Houston and Tamba Hali. So that's one less pass rusher to account for. Houston's back-up, Frank Zombo, isn't bad as far as back-ups go, so he will be a factor, too.
6.) Who is a player on each side of the ball that you think will make the most impact Sunday and why?
Defensively, Dontari Poe will have an impact. He's the big nose tackle and plays just about every snap for the Chiefs. He's big, athletic and can collapse the pocket. Against a quarterback like RGIII, that's huge. Offensively, keep an eye on Donnie Avery. He's had an issue with drops this season but he's also one of the few Chiefs who has made plays downfield. He is the Chiefs deep threat.