The Kansas City Chiefs are set to return to “Monday Night Football” for the first time in three seasons.
And this time, coach Andy Reid brings a 3-0 football team with an a big-play offense to go along with his opportunistic defense as the Washington Redskins visit Arrowhead Stadium.
Washington coach Jay Gruden said he sees plenty to worry about in the red-hot Kansas City offense with Kareem Hunt setting league records for rookie running backs.
“He’s a danger out of the backfield,” Gruden said. “He’s definitely one of the guys that you have to have circled when you’re going into the game along with a couple of other key weapons like (tight end Travis) Kelce and the rest of the guys.”
The Chiefs have scored touchdowns of 50 or more yards in an NFL-record nine consecutive games. Hunt, who leads the league with 401 rushing yards and six touchdowns, owns three 50-yard-plus touchdowns, one in each of his first three NFL games.
Gruden praised Hunt’s ability to break arm tackles.
“You just never know with a young back like that what type of vision, what type of contact balance he’d have until they get in the game and you give them the ball,” Gruden said. “He’s taken advantage of the opportunity in a big way not only from getting handoffs but obviously catching passes. …
“Some guys seem to go down with ease, and some guys run through tackles, and he’s obviously proven to be one of those guys. But you also have to have great vision and patience, have the right tracks and make the right cuts. You usually don’t expect that for such a guy, for a rookie like that to come in here and do what he’s doing.”
On defense, the Chiefs thrive on creating turnovers with pressure on the cornerback and aggressive pass defense in the secondary.
“I call them a nuisance defense,” Gruden said. “They’re all over the place. They’re bump-and-run, man-to-man, they’re playing a lot, they’re disrupting routes and they’re giving their pressure time to get there.”
Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters owns 15 interceptions since his rookie season in 2015, more than any other player in the league in that span. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins understands the risks he takes throwing toward the side of the field patrolled by Peters.
“He’s certainly one of those corners, there’s a few in the league, that you are aware of, you know where they are, you know where they line up and you respect them and don’t take that lightly as you make your decisions as to where to go with the football and how to read the defense,” Cousins said.
The Redskins (2-1) come to Kansas City fresh from a 27-10 home victory over the Oakland Raiders. The Washington defense held the Raiders to 128 total yards, including 32 on the ground. Reid enjoys big matchups in prime time, and the Washington game marks the first of four night games for Kansas City over the next five weeks.
“I think it’s a compliment to the organization and the city,” Reid said. “That’s quite an honor to be able to be picked for a Monday night game.
“You kind of earn that respect, both us and Washington, to have that chance, and you’re playing against a team that’s playing really good football right now. They’re coming off a big win, and they’re well coached.”
The game marks the return of “Monday Night Football” to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since the fourth week of the 2014 season.
That night proved memorable for Chiefs fans, with Kansas City dominating the New England Patriots 41-14. The home crowd set a Guinness World Record for loudest crowd noise at an outdoor stadium with a peak decibel reading of 142.2.
Gruden said he believes home-field crowd noise provides the biggest advantage in sports.
“Football, with what you have to do at the line of scrimmage with the quarterback, makes it a huge, huge advantage for the home team,” Gruden said. “They have as good as an advantage as anybody, them and Seattle and I like to think us, but it’s a great place to play.”
Reid certainly hopes the home crowd provides his team the edge.
“I think the fans are going to love this, and they’re going to fill up Arrowhead and it’ll be just one of those nights where it’ll be a great football game and be electric with the fans,” Reid said. “That’s what this league’s all about.”