WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
It's a mixed bag for Tyler Thigpen this week against the Bills, who are short-handed in the secondary with injuries to two starters – safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Jabari Greer. The Bills also have pass-rush problems because their best defensive end, Aaron Schobel, is out. Despite that, Buffalo's pass-defense isn't horrible.
The Bills give up a respectable 6.73 yards per attempt and have only allowed seven touchdown passes this year, third-best in the league.
Where the Chiefs can win is with their larger receivers, however, as the Bills really lack a physical presence in their secondary. Terence McGee stands only 5-foot-9 and rookie Leodis McKelvin isn't much bigger. Even safety Ko Simpson isn't big by NFL safety standards. The Chiefs had some success last week against a small Saints secondary, so Sunday could be another good game for Dwayne Bowe.
The Bills don't blitz much but increased their pressure last week against young Brady Quinn – we could see more of the same against Thigpen, who isn't exactly a veteran. Buffalo likes to bring former Chief Kawika Mitchell screaming up the middle on blitzes quite a bit, and he leads the team in sacks, so Kansas City's backs will need to pick him up in pass protection.
WHEN THE BILLS PASS
Which Trent Edwards will the Chiefs get today? Will it be the accurate, smart passer who threw only two interceptions during Buffalo's 5-1 start, or the mistake-prone player who has thrown eight interceptions over the last four weeks, all losses? Either way, the Chiefs' young secondary will get a bit of a break this week.
The Bills have a great young deep threat in Lee Evans (18.9 yards per catch this year), but lack a complementary threat. Josh Reed is more of a third-down receiver and is questionable with an ankle injury. Roscoe Parrish is an exciting, quick, extremely fast player, but not ready for a starting role. Robert Royal is a lunchpail tight end who won't stretch the field.
But of course, the Chiefs boast the league's worst pass rush, and the Bills are more than adequate in pass protection. Left tackle Jason Peters is one of the NFL's best blindside protectors. Evans has been missing from Buffalo's attack in recent weeks, so look for the Bills to get him involved early. Brandon Flowers returns at corner for the Chiefs.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
The offseason acquisition of defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is paying dividends for the Bills, who are allowing only 3.9 yards per carry. That's a huge improvement over last year, when Buffalo ranked 25th in run defense. Second-year middle linebacker Paul Posluszny has benefited and leads the team in tackles.
It will be interesting to see how the Bills play the run without strong safety Donte Whitner, however, who will miss Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. His backup, Bryan Scott, is also nicked up with a knee problem, so that could come into play, too.
The Bills tackle well as a group and have a set of stout linebackers who are adept at coming downhill in the running game, and have allowed only two 100-yard rushers this season. It'll be interesting to see how committed the Chiefs are to running the football from their spread formations after Larry Johnson saw some limited success last week in his return from suspension. Stroud is a tough matchup for Chiefs' right guard Wade Smith.
WHEN THE BILLS RUN
Over the last month the Chiefs have made strides against the run and haven't allowed a single 100-yard rusher. But is their run defense truly fixed? We'll find out against the Bills and Marshawn Lynch, who is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry but breaks tackles frequently and has a nice burst. Lynch plays bigger than his 215 pounds might suggest. He'll test Kansas City's safeties, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard, in the open field.
Lynch runs behind a massive offensive line, one of the league's biggest. The smallest Bills lineman is center Melvin Fowler, who's listed at 310 pounds, and the tackles, Langston Walker and Jason Peters, are both over 340 pounds. Those are huge mismatches for a Chiefs' defensive line that will field the smallish Tamba Hali and who knows at the other defensive end spot. The Chiefs may play Alfonso Boone extensively at right defensive end today, simply because of his size.
The Bills might have the league's best special teams unit. They have two electrifying return men in Roscoe Parrish and Leodis McKelvin (who reminds me a bit of DeAngelo Hall), cover kicks well and have a veteran kicker in Rian Lindell. This is a tough matchup for the Chiefs, especially since Dustin Colquitt's lower body injuries have hindered his effectiveness recently. If Mike Priefer's oft-torched units can keep the Bills return men out of the end zone, consider it a wild success.
The Bills, like the Chiefs, are in the midst of their own losing streak, having dropped four in a row. Buffalo is reeling, and there's already talk of JP Losman relieving Edwards at quarterback. Kansas City will get a boost this week with the return of Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers and Derrick Johnson. Bills head coach Dick Jauron is 1-0 lifetime against Herm Edwards.
The Bills have a banged-up defense, a shaky quarterback, and couldn't even beat the lowly Browns in Buffalo last week. This is the perfect recipe for the Chiefs to break their losing streak.
Chiefs 24, Bills 20
The Matchups - Chiefs vs Bills
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