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What to watch for in Redskins-Chiefs on 'MNF'

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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The Monday night matchup this week pits two of the hottest teams, quarterbacks and pass-catching running backs against one another in a raucous venue. Tasty.

Playing their second consecutive prime-time game, the Washington Redskins' stock is sky high. Their demolition of the previously heralded Oakland Raiders woke up an entire industry to the wonders of Greg Manusky's underrated defense, introduced the world to dual-threat marvel Chris Thompson, and yes, reminded the D.C. front office why Kirk Cousins is worth his franchise tag, and maybe then some.

But next on the docket for the Skins is a franchise that has known no equal so far this season: the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. K.C. has played total football through three weeks, laying waste to the defending champs, a spry Eagles team and Philip Rivers' transplanted Bolts. Thanks to a career-year launch from the ever-efficient Alex Smith and dynamite rookie campaign from Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs are sitting pretty atop the American Football Conference and, more importantly, Elliot Harrison's Power Rankings.

Here's what we're looking forward to when the Skins take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday evening:

1. On the Hunt: Allow him to reintroduce himself. The last time a national TV audience caught a glimpse of the rookie, he racked up an unthinkable 246 yards from scrimmage and three scores against the Pats in Foxborough. Since then, Hunt has been the benchmark for not just rookie runners, but all skill position players, pacing the league with 538 total yards. Will the transcendent first-year phenom continue his streak of scoring a 50-plus-yard touchdown (three in three career games!) against a Washington defense that just shut down Marshawn Lynch and Oakland's four-pronged ground operation, and set rookie yardage records in the process?

2. One-man wrecking machine: Not to be outdone by his pass-catching counterpart, Thompson has emerged as Washington's most indispensable weapon on offense, leading the team in scrimmage yards, targets, receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns. With Rob Kelley questionable to play, it will likely be Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine, a young man's Lightning and Thunder, carrying the load against the Chiefs. While Kansas City has surrendered 100 rushing yards in each of its first three games, they've done fairly well limiting dual-threat backs (James White, Darren Sproles) to smaller gains, far unlike the explosive plays Thompson has broken in recent weeks.

3. Sack city?: Lost in K.C.'s hot start is that the backbone of the franchise, Bob Sutton's defense, is still excelling. Led by a healthy Justin Houston and Marcus Peters, the Chiefs are mirroring their big-play offense with similar play on the other side of the ball. Houston leads the team and is among the top five league-wide with four sacks, while Peters is in the midst of another stellar campaign locked on teams' top weapons. Terrelle Pryor's slow start will likely continue against Peters on Monday night, meaning Kirk Cousins could have one fewer receiver to target and, with Houston and Chris Jones rushing him, little time to get the ball out.

4. Secretaries of Defense: The most shocking performance of Week 3 was undoubtedly Washington shutting down Derek Carr's Raiders in prime time, led by Greg Manusky's aggressive and under-the-radar defense. The Skins held Oakland to just over 100 total yards, swamped Carr in the pocket and blanketed the Raiders' top wideouts. Can Washington pull off the same magic on the road against one of the league's most creative offenses? Key to the Skins' game plan against the Chiefs will be safety D.J. Swearinger. The former Cardinals enforcer will likely be tasked with blanketing Travis Kelce, who has lined up at nearly every offensive position and whose role each week is unpredictable.

5. Active or inactive?: That is, if Swearinger even plays. The safety is among five critical Redskins players who are questionable to take the field against Kansas City. Swearinger has a hamstring; star tight end Jordan Reed could miss a second straight game with a rib injury; the same goes for Rob Kelley; wideout Jamison Crowder might cede more targets to Josh Doctson if he has to sit out with a bum hammy; and linebacker Mason Foster's shoulder is holding him back.

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