When: Sunday, Nov. 9
Time: Noon, CT
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, New York
TV Broadcast: CBS – Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, commentators, NFL Red Zone; DirecTV – 706.
Radio Broadcast: Westwood One: Tom McCarthy, Rod Woodson, commentators. Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators; Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM)
The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Orchard Park, New York Sunday to play a team that is a mirror image of themselves in many respects – the Buffalo Bills. And it’s not only because of the 5-3 record they both share.
The Bills play in a division where they are constantly overshadowed by an arch-rival team quarterbacked by a future Hall of Fame quarterback with multiple Super Bowl appearances. And this year both the Bills and Chiefs are using efficient, if unspectacular, offenses led by a solid, if unspectacular, quarterbacks and strong running games that supplement sometimes dominating defenses and outstanding special teams.
Oh, and nobody around the NFL seems to respect them except the teams that have to play them.
Sound familiar, Chiefs fans???
This is going to be a crucial game for both teams to win. The loser drops to 5-4 and will be behind the 8-ball when it comes to playoff tie-breakers. The winner stays within striking distance of the division leaders with another game left to play them on their schedules.
So what do the Men in Red have to do to win their fourth game in a row and firmly put themselves in a leading role in the playoff race? Here are three things fans should watch for:
The offensive line needs to repeat their success of the last two weeks: Remember back in 2006 when Houston Texans G.M. Charley Casserly shocked the football “experts” by taking defensive lineman Mario Williams with the first-overall pick over the glitzy names like Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Matt Leinert, or Michael Huff? The outrage in Houston was so bad that Casserly basically lost his job a couple of years later. Well … lookie here … while Young and Leinert are out of football, Huff is painfully mediocre as a cornerback, and Bush’s biggest claim to fame was sleeping with Kim Kardashian (like … who hasn’t?), Williams is now anchoring the Buffalo defensive line and could pass 100 quarterback sacks for his career in the next three years. He is just one piece of an extremely good defensive line that might be the best the Chiefs will face this year.
Williams and fellow defensive end Jerry Hughes team with a pair of outstanding tackles, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, to give Buffalo a line that can both stop the running game in its tracks as well as hunt down opposing QBs and bring them to the ground (2nd in the league in sacks with 28). The Bills have put $155 million bucks worth of salary on their D-line and the results are there so far in 2014. Needless to say, the Chief O-line will be tested … again.
Luckily this is the third week in a row that the O-line has faced one of the more elite defensive fronts in the league. Facing the Rams and Jets over the last two weeks – and keeping quarterback Alex Smith mostly upright and unharmed – should help the offensive line do the same this week.
Shut down the one offensive playmaker the Bills have: Buffalo rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins is the definition of “playmaker”, and will become a fixture at the Pro Bowl game over the next few years. However, he is battling a groin injury that he tweaked in practice on Wednesday. Watkins didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday and was a last-minute decision to be activated for the Chiefs game Sunday morning. I’ll just say it … if Watkins plays anywhere near his potential, the Bills have an excellent shot to win – he’s that good and the Chiefs don’t have anyone on defense that can stay with him. The Chiefs need to make sure he doesn’t have one of those “4 catches, 125 yards, 2 touchdown” stat lines.
The Bills also announced Sunday morning that running back Fred Jackson will be active. Jackson has missed a few games due to a groin injury and was questionable to play up to Sunday morning. Jackson isn’t spectacular – unlike Jamaal Charles for the Chiefs – but is amazingly consistent and a threat to catch 100 balls out of the backfield. He can keep the Chiefs pass rushers honest with his ability to bail Orton out of trouble and needs to be neutralized.
Force Kyle Orton to beat you: Hey … when opposing teams play the Chiefs, the defensive game plan is to shut down Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis and put the ball in Alex Smith’s hands. It’s not necessarily an insult … well, ok, it is an insult. The Chiefs need to completely blow up the Bills run game and make quarterback Kyle Orton beat them. The thought here is that if Watkins isn’t playing at full speed, Orton can’t do it.
Prediction: My heart hopes this is a comfortable game for the Chiefs in the fourth quarter with a 10-point or more lead, but my head knows it won’t be. The Chiefs can EASILY lose this game because the Bills are a good team with a quality head coach. Brace yourselves for a nail-biter, folks because one team will have the ball in their hands at the end of the game with a chance to win. My guess is that team will be Kansas City. The Chiefs sweep the AFC East with a win.
Score: Chiefs 20, Bills 19.