3 Keys: Bills vs. Chiefs


In a game that is crucial for playoff positioning, the Bills will host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Ralph Wilson Stadium. In a game that features many big playmakers on both sides of the ball, this game in my opinion will come down to the battle in the trenches. Whichever team can control the line of scrimmage will win the game, as neither QB is exactly a huge playmaker outside the pocket, but more on that later. The last time Buffalo was in a playoff race this late into the season was 2011, and as it pains a Bills fan to remember this, they lost seven in a row on their way to a 6-10 record with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. But this year it’s Kyle Orton! So, it’s all going to turn out different right? Anyways, here are your three keys to the game:

1) Battle in the trenches:

This game is coming down to who protects their quarterbacks better. The Bills have the most sacks in the AFC at 28, while the Chiefs are one behind at 27. Justin Houston has been far and away the best defensive front seven player in the league, recording 12 sacks while forcing a fumble this season. Houston has had four multi-sack games this season, with two against the Titans, Patriots, and the Jets, and a three-sack effort against the Rams. Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams, and Jerry Hughes are all in the top 15 in the league in sacks.

Dareus leads the way with seven, including three at Detroit in their Week 5 victory. Williams has had at least a half of a sack in each of the eight games this season except for Week 3 when the Bills hosted the Chargers. Hughes has had at least a sack in each of the last three games he’s played in with two in Detroit. On the offensive side of the line, the Chiefs have had the much better time protecting their quarterback Alex Smith. The Chiefs have only allowed 19 sacks this season, and have allowed the fourth-fewest hits on their quarterback with 29.

2) Finishing drives:

Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills kicker

Dan Carpenter

(2) celebrates his game winning field goal with punter

Colton Schmidt

(6) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Buffalo won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have a dependable kicker like Dan Carpenter so that when the drive stalls, he can put three points on the board. But there’s a difference between letting your kicker finish a drive, and you having to depend on your kicker to get you points time and time again. That’s what the Bills have seemed to do this season. They have the fourth-best average starting position in the league, starting at their own 31.1 yard line on average for drives, but are 24th in the league in points per drive, only scoring 1.63. To give context, the Saints lead the league, averaging 2.68 points per drive.

The Bills also have the second-highest amount of field goals kicked from the 30-39 yard range. Before these balls are kicked, the ball is about at the 13-23 yard line. Against a stout defense like the Chiefs, the Bills need to finish in the red zone. They are the fourth-worst team in the league when it comes to finishing drives in the red zone with touchdowns at 46.67%. The Chiefs are great in the red zone, allowing only 50% of opposing drives in the red zone finish in touchdowns. Again, it’s nice to have a dependable kicker. But the days of depending on him have to be over. It starts Sunday against one of the best red zone defenses in the NFL.

3) Kyle Orton hot streak:

Wait… a hot streak for a Bills quarterback? No, this isn’t the 90’s. In all seriousness, Orton has been the savior for this Bills offense for now, creating a connection with the offense’s best player and he’s led this team to a 3-1 record without a rushing attack. The only loss was against arguably the hottest team in football with New England in a game when the defense didn’t show up. Among regular starting quarterbacks, Orton’s QB rating is fourth in the league at 104.0. He’s also only thrown three picks compared to nine touchdowns in those four games. He’s also completing 67.4 percent of his passes, which is currently the highest percentage in his career for when he has started a game.

They’re going to need him to play well again on Sunday, with Anthony Dixon taking the bulk of the carries again and an offensive line that has not done him any favors. Going against the league’s top defense will be tough as well, as the Chiefs are the only team in the league to allow less than 200 yards passing at 199.4 Orton was able to pick apart the Lions defense, who are fifth in the league, for 300+ yards with little help from a rushing attack. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bills do it this week.

My prediction:

I know that the Bills are hot right now with Orton at quarterback, but this Kansas City defense is very good. And without a rushing attack, I think Justin Houston and co. can have a field day on this offensive line, disrupting the timing of the offense. I don’t think the Chiefs score a ton on the Bills D, but I think they score just enough to win this defensive slugfest.

124. 13. 16. Final. 14