The Kansas City Chiefs capped off a great four game stretch of play with a 33-3 win over the San Diego Chargers last week and moving themselves into the AFC playoff picture. Now they look to cap off a terrific month of November with a win over a tough Buffalo Bills team that is fighting Kansas City for that wild card playoff spot. Kickoff is at 12:05 p.m. CT at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The game will be televised on CBS (KCTV5 locally) and broadcast over the Chiefs Radio Network or 1340-AM La Gran D Radio for the Spanish-speaking audience.
The Chiefs may have exorcised a couple of demons these last two weeks – demons named Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers – but the job doesn’t get any easier with the physical, hard-hitting Bills squad led by their fiery and emotional head coach, Rex Ryan. To some, Ryan is just a blowhard and a goof, but aside from the colorful quotes and jokes, he’s one of the best defensive coaches in the game. Here are my thoughts on five things the Chiefs must do to beat the Bills and get closer to extending their season into the playoffs:
1. Channel the energy of the Arrowhead crowd. It’s not true that the last time the Chiefs played within the friendly confines of Arrowhead, Richard Nixon was the president. It only SEEMS like it has been that long. However, the last time the Chiefs played at home, the Royals were still playing in the World Series. That is a lot of pent-up energy that the Arrowhead faithful will be needing to expend and if the Chiefs can come out and play well early, the crowd will make their lives easier – and the Bills life tougher. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor isn’t a rookie, but this is his first year starting in the NFL and we all know what can happen to young quarterbacks playing in their Arrowhead debut. The Chiefs defense has been nearly flawless on the road during this win streak and it will be nice to see what they can do when the offensive line can’t hear the snap counts because of the noise.
2. Keep a lid on Shady McCoy. Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy was an elite player during his time in Philadelphia and while he has battled injuries and inconsistency in his first year in Buffalo, he can take over a game at any time. The Chiefs defense has already played some of the best backs in the game (Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, and Matt Forte to name three) and have held them in check for the most part. KC’s target should be to keep McCoy under 100 total yards of offense with one or fewer touchdowns. If they can do that, the Chiefs will win the game.
3. Continue to punish Tyrod Taylor. If you were watching the Monday Night Football game last week, you probably saw Taylor beaten up by the Patriots defense early and often. He ended the game barely able to move and grabbing on to the part of his shoulder pads covering his neck and chest to keep his throbbing right arm from falling off. He was in THAT much pain. It was a tough, tough, tough and admirable performance that showed why he is the starting quarterback for Buffalo. However, if your arm is in that much pain that you have to hold on to your shoulder pads to alleviate the discomfort then you are much more likely to fumble or throw an interception because you cannot be 100% focused on reading the defense. Look for the Chiefs defense to hit Taylor a lot, led by Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry.
4. Strike early and hope the Bills’ emotional gas tank is empty. This will be Buffalo’s third consecutive road game which are generally tough to win in the NFL under normal circumstances. Now throw in the fact that Buffalo’s two previous road games prior to this week consisted of Ryan returning to New York for the first time since he was fired this past offseason to coach against his former Jets team, and a gritty but emotionally-draining loss to New England last Monday night. Finally, add in the fact that this is a short work week for Buffalo … a holiday week, which makes it a little different … and the current staff needs to prepare for a team that they only play every three years, this could be a classic “let-down” game for Buffalo.
Over the last five weeks, the Chiefs have 18 sacks and have forced 13 turnovers, while during their four-game win streak, they have outscored their opponents 139-30. The Bills are not the team you want to allow to hang around in a close game, so if the Chiefs can get an early two possession lead (10 points or more), it may take some of the fire away from the Bills.
5. Take advantage of the Bills depleted defensive line. Buffalo has spent millions of dollars and lots of high draft picks to create a devastating defensive line – on paper, at least. Buffalo just put tackle Kyle Williams on the injured reserve this week and will be missing defensive end Mario Williams due to a foot injury. In addition, tackle Marcell Dareus has been limited in practice all week and will be far less than 100% for the game. And while it would be nice for the Chiefs to have a healthy Charcandrick West at running back, Spencer Ware filled in admirably for him last week (11 rushes, 96 yards, 2 touchdowns) and don’t be surprised if Knile Davis makes an appearance for the first time in several weeks. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said as late as Friday that there is a chance West will play, but regardless, look for the Chiefs to attack the Buffalo line often.
Bottom Line: My head says this will be a fairly close defensive game with a ton of field goals on both sides. My heart sees that Buffalo has yet to beat a team with a winning record (unless you count their Week 1 win against a less-than-impressive Indianapolis Colts team that currently sits at 5-5). The Chiefs are relatively healthy and are rolling. Turnovers in the second half will doom the Bills and the Chiefs will have a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs – 27, Bills – 16