Game Scout: Bills/Chiefs Breakdown

Buffalo looks to end four-game losing streak vs. hapless Chiefs...

Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)

==================================================

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 11/23/08

SURFACE: Grass

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots)

SERIES: 37th regular-season meeting, Bills lead series 19-16-1. Original AFL teams last met in 2005 in Buffalo. J.P. Losman replaced Kelly Holcomb and threw two touchdown passes in a 14-3 Bills win. Chiefs have won five of the last six at home against Buffalo.

PREDICTION: Bills 27-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills got better production out of RB Marshawn Lynch last Sunday, but to put a stop to their freefall Edwards must regain his confidence. He's spending too much time in the pocket waiting for receivers to come open and is throwing into a lot of tight coverage. Kansas City has just six sacks, so Edwards will have time. But he needs to stretch the field more after 10 of his 16 completions last Monday went to Lynch and none to WR Lee Evans. ... The Chiefs are using a lot of spread formations, although one that utilizes a pair of tight ends could be limited depending on Tony Gonzalez's availability. With RB Larry Johnson back in the lineup, the Chiefs do need to make a concerted effort to run the ball with Buffalo's ground game showing signs of being able to control the clock. The Bills don't rush the passer particularly well, so QB Tyler Thigpen should have ample time in the pocket.

Key Injuries: Bills: WR Josh reed (ankle) is practicing but remains doubtful along with DE Aaron Schobel (foot) Chiefs: LB Donnie Edwards (hamstring/knee) is out; Gonzalez (knee) in uncertain; CB Brandon Flowers (hamstring), DE Tamba Hali (ankle) and OLB Derrick Johnson (hamstring) should return.

Need to know: Bills TE Robert Royal has already set career highs with 26 receptions and 279 receiving yards. ... The Chiefs have a plus-9 turnover margin thanks to recovering all 11 fumbles they have forced.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Bills:

--WR Josh Reed practiced for a second day doing a little more than Thursday, a good sign he may return to the lineup after missing three games. He's coming off a severe ankle injury. He'll test himself before the game Sunday in Kansas City, but should be OK to go, a good sign for a struggling offense.

--SS Donte Whitner, who is nursing a sore shoulder that he separated two games ago, did not practice for a second straight day. He's likely a game-time decision for Sunday's game at Kansas City.

--SS Bryan Scott did not practice again with a knee injury. He's a key backup who would spot hurting starter Donte Whitner (shoulder) and play in nickel packages. He could be ruled out of Sunday's game against Kansas City if he's unable to practice on Friday.

--DE Aaron Schobel, who has missed five games with a foot injury, likely won't play Sunday at Kansas City. He did not practice again Thursday and isn't expected to at all this week.

--CB Jabari Greer is nursing a sprained knee. He did not practice again and is looking doubtful for Sunday.

--LB Marcus Buggs, a good contributor on special teams, has a high-ankle sprain and has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Kansas City.

Chiefs:

-- TE Tony Gonzalez was able to take a full complement of practice snaps Thursday after missing Wednesday's practice with swelling on his knee. "He moved around pretty good on it," coach Herm Edwards reported. "Tony doesn't miss games. It's hard to keep him out."


Tony Gonzalez
Getty Images

-- WR Mark Bradley was limited in Thursday's workout after sitting out the Wednesday session with a calf injury. He is regarded as truly questionable for the Bills game this week.

-- P Dustin Colquitt will be watched closely this week as he attempts to come back from one of the worst games of his three-year career last week against New Orleans. Colquitt, who has been battling groin and leg injuries that caused him to miss two games in the past month, averaged only 33 yards per punt last week.

-- G Wade Smith will start a second straight game this week against Buffalo as a replacement for injured starting RG Adrian Jones, out with an ankle injury.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Bills:

The Bills are hopeful that strong safety Donte Whitner can play in Sunday's game at Kansas City. Otherwise, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez may be an even bigger problem than he normally would present.

Gonzalez, 32 and in his 11th season, is cobbling together another strong year with 55 catches, 583 yards and five touchdowns, this despite quarterback troubles on the Chiefs that have seen the emergence of little-known second-year pro Tyler Thigpen.

The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez is really a wide receiver in a tight end's body. Guarding him would fall to Whitner, who is nursing a tender right shoulder that was separated two weeks ago.

Whitner missed just one game before returning to the lineup on Monday night against his hometown Cleveland Browns. While providing his team an emotional lift, he was mostly ineffective and couldn't finish the game due to pain issues.

Coach Dick Jauron said he was confident that Whitner didn't aggravate his injury, but Whitner didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday.

"My understanding is that he did not (worsen it)," Jauron said. "As we said going into the game, medically, our people felt that he couldn't really do it significant more damage. Otherwise, we wouldn't have let him on the field, so it was mostly pain management. It just turned out to be significantly more painful than either he or they thought it was going to be."

Compounding this week's challenge is that Bryan Scott, Whitner's backup, suffered a knee injury against the Browns. He didn't practice for a second day either.

The third man on the depth chart is second-year pro John Wendling, a big hitter on special teams.


Donte Whitner
Getty Images

Jauron admitted that putting Whitner on the field so soon after his injury was the medical staff's belief the player couldn't be injured further, and that "we don't have 10,000 alternatives." But the team would never risk a player's career.

As for Gonzalez, Jauron thinks he hasn't lost a step.

"It doesn't look like it to me, but I haven't played him a lot," he said. "I haven't played him a lot over the years continually, so when I'm seeing him, it's just been on the tape of opponents or the highlight tapes, because he's on a lot of highlight tapes."

Chiefs:

The Chiefs are likely to get three defensive starters, two of whom missed the last two games, back in action this week against Buffalo.

Cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Derrick Johnson took a full turn in workouts Wednesday and Thursday after missing the previous two games with hamstring injuries.

They were joined on the practice field by defensive end Tamba Hali, who also missed last week's New Orleans game with an ankle injury.

The Chiefs will be as close to full strength defensively as they've been in weeks. Sadly, that's not saying a lot.

They still will be missing veteran linebacker Donnie Edwards, who will miss the game with hamstring and knee injuries. They might not have veteran middle linebacker Pat Thomas, who missed the Saints game with a hamstring injury and had only limited involvement in Wednesday and Thursday workouts.

But they might get back nickel back Pat Surtain, who is trying to come back from a quad injury. Surtain has played in only five of 10 games this year, and was limited in two others.


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories