3 Key Bills/Chiefs Matchups

If the Buffalo Bills hope to get into the playoffs this year, they'll have to beat plenty of fellow playoff contenders in the second half of the season. It starts on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are three matchups the Bills must win if they hope to move to 6-3 on the year.

The Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs will be a battle of two 5-3 teams looking to stay in the playoff hunt. Buffalo has won five of the last seven matchups and looks to get a win following their bye week. The Bills begin a four game stretch against the Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets and Browns. Three of these teams are fellow playoff contenders that the Bills must vanquish if they hope to end their long playoff drought. It doesn’t get any easier for the Bills as they finish their year against the Broncos, Packers, Raiders and Patriots.

It may be a bit overdramatic to call tomorrow’s game a must-win, but a win tomorrow greatly improves their playoff hopes. Here are three key matchups the Bills must win to defeat the Chiefs.

Matchup of the Week: RT Seantrel Henderson vs. OLB Justin Houston            

Seantrel Henderson had to enter the bye week feeling pretty good about his play. He’s coming off of back-to-back strong efforts against the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets where he was responsible for four quarterback hurries, but no quarterback hits or sacks. Buffalo’s rookie right tackle has been improving throughout the season, but faces an extremely tough test on Sunday.

Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs is one of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL. Pro Football Focus has Houston has their top 3-4 OLB (Subscription Required). The analytics site says that Houston should be credited with 13 sacks (he has 10). Houston has also hit the quarterback three times this season and hurried opposing QBs 28 times according to PFF.

The Bills would be wise to give Henderson help by lining up a tight end next to him. That said, Henderson himself will have to continue his strong play to ensure Kyle Orton has time to pass the ball on Sunday.

RB Jamaal Charles vs. Bills Defense

A vague matchup, but Jamaal Charles is so dangerous that it takes a team to contain him. This season, Charles has played in seven games and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. His actual numbers are a bit down, as he’s only carried the ball 98 times for 435 yards and five touchdowns. That said, he’s a complete package at running back and he’s also a threat in the passing game. So far this season, Charles has 17 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Buffalo’s defense had fared extremely well in run defense early in the season, but their last two games have been worrisome. Against the Vikings, the Bills gave up 168 yards rushing on 29 carries (5.79 YPC). In New Jersey, the Bills gave up 182 yards on 33 carries (5.52 YPC) to the Jets. There aren’t many QBs who can run the ball like Michael Vick, but the total amount of yards allowed is still a concern.

 If Jamaal Charles runs the ball successfully against the Bills, Buffalo’s chances of winning will be slim.

Robert Woods vs. Sean Smith/Phillip Gaines

If Sammy Watkins plays, he won’t be at 100 percent. However, he would still likely be lined up across from Sean Smith. That means that Robert Woods would be lined up with Phillip Gaines. If Watkins doesn’t play, Woods will get Smith.

Either way, Woods will be depended upon as to lead the Bills’ receiving corps. Against the Chiefs. Woods is returning from a back injury that knocked him out of the Jets game early in Week 8. Woods had three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown in 18 snaps against New York. He’s been a full participant in practice, so he seems like he’s completely healthy.

If Woods draws Smith, he’ll go against a cornerback that is allowing 55.6 percent of passes to be completed in his coverage area. Smith was responsible for two touchdowns in Week 1, but he hasn’t given up one since. The cornerback has let his opposition find some success in two of the last three weeks. Smith was responsible for giving up 95 yards on five receptions to the Chargers and four receptions for 83 yards against the Jets. He’s a good cornerback, but he is beatable.

If Watkins plays, Woods will find himself against Gaines. He started Week 9 against the Jets and played 67-of-70 snaps. During the game, Gaines allowed six receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. Gaines didn’t start to see significant snaps for the Chiefs until Week 7, so it’s yet to be seen how good the rookie truly is. Woods will provide Gaines with a good test if Watkins is on the field.

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