The Bills travel to Kansas City this week to take on the Chiefs in a matchup of two sinking teams. Sports talk hosts in Buffalo have been debating whether or not a Bills win would even be a good thing. The loser is in line for a top-five pick. However, Perry Fewell and the rest of the organization surely do not have this mindset, as they are all professionals fighting for jobs. Don't tell that to some Bills fans, though, as dreams of Jimmy Clausen or even Tim Tebow abound. Whatever is at stake, the Bills and the Chiefs will do battle on Sunday, although there are unfortunately no serious playoff implications.
As far as injuries are concerned, Buffalo has a host of players listed as questionable, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, and whether these players are able to play or not could have an impact on the outcome of the game. Safety Jairus Byrd is one of these players, and although his impressive numbers in terms of interceptions have tailed off in recent weeks, he has clearly demonstrated that his uncanny nose for the ball can disrupt any opposing quarterback.
Defensive end John McCargo and tackle Ryan Denney are also questionable. Although neither player has put up impressive numbers this season, their absence would hinder the Bills' ability to get at Matt Cassel. Putting pressure on Cassel looks to be key in the Bills' effort to stop the Chiefs' passing offense, a weak one that ranks 29th with 167.6 yards per game. Flustering Cassel is certainly possible, and if McCargo and Denney can play, Buffalo's chances at doing so will increase.
Cornerback Ashton Youboty and linebacker Chris Draft are also questionable. Although Youboty hasn't ascended into a starter as a pro, he has proven to be a decent player who can step in when needed. As for Draft, he was acquired by the Bills before Week 6 against the Jets and has performed admirably, with 30 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Draft is a solid presence as an outside linebacker and would be missed as the Bills attempt to contain the Chiefs in check. Outside linebacker has been a position in constant turmoil.
With the possibility of multiple defensive players being inactive this week, look for Aaron Maybin to see some time on the field this week. The first-rounder not been able to find his game after holding out into the regular season. Maybe playing time this week against the Chiefs' ineffective offense could provide a much-needed boost to Maybin.
As for the Chiefs, injuries do not pose much of a problem this week. Nobody is listed as out or doubtful due to injury, and the only questionable player is defensive end Wallace Gilberry. Gilberry has 3.5 sacks this season, so he is a noteworthy player to game-plan for. His loss would help Buffalo's maligned line keep Fitzpatrick off his back.
Although the Chiefs have no other significant injury issues, the Chiefs have a non-injury personnel issue in the suspension of wideout Dwayne Bowe due to a violation of the NFL Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances. Bowe has been one of the rare bright spots in the Chiefs' offense, the lone playmaker on a very young team. The loss of Bowe will make it even tougher for the Chiefs to pass the ball effectively this week, especially considering how the Bills have actually been solid at defending the pass.
Whatever the case, the significant issue in terms of this week's injuries is the banged-up Bills defense. Luckily, the offense they are facing is not intimidating on the surface. However, any NFL team can have a good day, especially at home at Arrowhead Stadium. And considering how the Bills have not consistently been able to stop the run at all this season, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is sure to be licking his chops at the prospect of this week's matchup, even without considering the potential injuries.
Meaningful or not, the Bills will play a game on Sunday, battling the Chiefs for mere pride, and possibly for a top-five pick in the 2010 draft. Neither team is going anywhere in January. This should be close. Although a win over Kansas City would not do much to raise the collective psyche of Bills Nation, it could provide a spark going into next week's home game against New England. Playoff-bound or not, finally beating the Pats for the first time since September 2003 would make the season bearable for some fans. A good showing at Arrowhead would be a solid lead-in.-------------------------------------------------
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