The Buffalo Bills are on the road for the third consecutive week and need a win against the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams are 5-5 and in the playoff hunt so a head-to-head win could go a long way in securing a Wild Card berth. The Chiefs have won their last four games and enter as a big favorite. To pull off the upset, Buffalo will need a few X-Factors to step up. Here’s a look at three players the Bills need to contribute on Sunday.
Carrington will get the start at defensive end with Mario Williams sitting out of the game with a foot injury. Weeks ago, this would have been a major concern as Carrington only played 35 snaps in the first two weeks and then found himself inactive for the next five weeks. Carrington returned in Week 7 and 9 and only saw 30 snaps, but in the last two weeks Carrington has come on for Buffalo.
The versatile defensive lineman has played 77 snaps, per Pro Football Focus, in the last two weeks and he’s been a disruptive player for Buffalo. He led Buffalo in defensive stops against the Jets and has proven that he can get after the QB in the last two games. In terms of quarterback pressures (hits/hurries/sacks), Carrington (5 total) only trails Jerry Hughes (14 total) and Marcell Dareus (6 total).
With Mario Williams out, Jerry Hughes will likely see some double teams. Carrington will be depended upon to create pressure and make Alex Smith uncomfortable in the pocket.
Why is Taylor listed as an X-Factor? No one really knows just how healthy the quarterback is entering the game. Taylor suffered some sort of shoulder injury on Monday Night Football and despite Taylor claiming he’s ready to go, he didn’t pass the ball at practice on Wednesday. If Taylor cannot be an effective passer, Buffalo’s chances of winning will be slim to none.
The Bills should absolutely depend upon their run game on Sunday, but can Taylor pass the ball when necessary? That’s the big question. Unfortunately for Buffalo, EJ Manuel and Josh Johnson aren’t quality QB options, so a less than 100 percent Taylor is still the best option. If Taylor is truly okay, the Bills can certainly win this game. Tomorrow’s game may come down to Taylor’s effectiveness as a passer.
Rex Ryan came out this week and said Sammy Watkins needs to get the ball more often. This is certainly true and you can say the same about Charles Clay. On Monday night, Clay was an effective blocker for the Bills, but on his 37 pass running routes, Clay was only targeted three times. He finished the game with one catch for 14 yards on three targets.
This week’s matchup against the Chiefs won’t be any easier. Kansas City held Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green to two catches for 15 yards last week. That said, getting Clay more involved in the passing game is a must for the Bills. With Taylor at QB, Buffalo is 3-1 when Clay finishes with at least 40 yards receiving. The tight end can create mismatches on the field and needs to be featured more during Buffalo’s final six games.