Perhaps no team in the AFC East needs a win as badly this weekend as the Buffalo Bills, and they could get it, but not without a game plan that takes advantage of Kansas City's weaknesses.
It would seem the Chiefs were exposed a bit simply by looking at the 40-24 final score in their game against the Atlanta Falcons, but that's not exactly the case. The Chiefs were undone by a lack of a running game, as well as a few absent starters on defense.
While the Bills might be able to glean something from the Chiefs' offensive struggles, they may have a tougher time getting past an underrated Chiefs defense.
But here's the game plan.
Bills Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
The return of cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Tamba Hali doesn't bode well for the Bills; it was the defense, not the offense, which held back the Chiefs in their home opener against the Falcons.
Even worse for the Bills may be the loss of wide receiver David Nelson and running back Fred Jackson. The Chiefs run defense was impressively stout last week against the Falcons, holding the team to just 84 yards rushing on the day.
Their pass defense, however, was suspect without Flowers. Nelson would have been a great weapon to take advantage of cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Jacques Reeves.
Both had rough outings against the Falcons, and even with Nelson out, the Bills should target them.
Reeves got caught way out of position on Julio Jones on this 2nd-and-8 in the first quarter. The reason? He was eight yards off his man.
Jones, who likely had an option route depending on the coverage, wisely undercut the coverage and bolted for the middle of the field, where he had nothing but green space in front of him.
Reeves is lucky he got there when he did, or else this could have been an even bigger gain with safety Eric Berry nearly 20 yards upfield at the time of the reception.
The Chiefs loved to play man coverage when they had both cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers, but with Carr gone to Dallas and Flowers out with an injury, they were thin in Week 1. They'll be getting Flowers back, but there are still some weaknesses to be exposed in the secondary.
If the offensive line can buy Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick the time he needs in the pocket, he has to reward them by going through his progressions, understanding the coverage and finding the open man. The Chiefs run a lot of man coverage, which should make for easy reads, but the troubling thing is that Fitzpatrick had the same situation against the Jets and couldn't capitalize.
Bills Defense vs. Chiefs Offense
Bleacher Report AFC West lead writer Christopher Hansen had the following to say about Matt Cassel after his Week 1 performance:
Lost in a poor team performance was a very encouraging performance by Cassel. Kansas City was down just three points at halftime despite being unable to stop Atlanta’s offense. Essentially, Cassel carried the Chiefs in a game where the defense wasn't performing.
If last week's game is any indication, the Bills defense could be carved up once again; Cassel did a great deal of the work on his own, but the Chiefs offense is predicated off play action. If the Bills want to take away what the Chiefs offense wants to do, they'll have to buckle down on running back Jamaal Charles.
The Falcons set the example of how to keep him quiet; they gave up a 46-yard run and an 11-yard run, but other than those two carries, he was held to 30 yards on 14 carries. That's an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Holding Charles to such small gains is no small feat, so let's take a look at how the Falcons did it.
This run on 2nd-and-10 in the first quarter was stuffed for a two-yard gain by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The Chiefs love to run the stretch play and have fullback Peyton Hillis lined up as the lead blocker.
A pair of unblocked defenders plus a pair of floored linemen doesn't usually make for a great run.
There is a swarm of Falcons defenders in the way before the play even has a prayer. Nobody blocks defensive end John Abraham coming off the left side, and he's in the backfield in a hurry. As a whole, the Falcons read the run to the right correctly, and several—including Abraham, Weatherspoon and others—are in position to make the stop.
This may seem like a fairly nondescript short gain, but the Falcons put the Chiefs into a 3rd-and-8 with this stop, and even though the Chiefs were driving down the field, the Falcons were ultimately able to hold them to a field goal.
Despite the big game Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had through the air, the Bills defended the run very well, giving up just 3.3 yards per carry.
The Bills have to respect Charles' breakaway speed, and the Chiefs count on that from all of their opponents as their pass attack is heavily predicated on play-action. The Bills can eliminate the threat of the play action by taking Charles out of the game early and forcing Kansas City into obvious passing situations in 2nd- or 3rd-and-long.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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