NFL Week 1 Preview: Jamaal Charles, 5 Matchups for Bills and Chiefs to Watch
The 2011 NFL season kickoff is days away, and the Buffalo Bills are headed to Arrowhead Stadium to face off with the Kansas City Chiefs in their first contest of the year. Both the Bills and Chiefs have some new faces on both offense and defense, and will be a good preview of what will come for both franchises this year.
Last time the two teams faced off was last year, a Chiefs 13-10 overtime victory, that Buffalo will look to avenge.
Here are some matchups to keep an eye on for what should be an exciting game.
OLB Tamba Hali vs. OT Demetrius Bell
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The Buffalo Bills offensive line has been shaky throughout the past several seasons, and that hasn't changed entering 2011. Just weeks ago, Bills head coach Chan Gailey experimented with left guard Andy Levitre at left tackle. However, incumbent starter Demetrius Bell has earned the starting role.
Facing off with Kansas City's pass rushing specialist, Tamba Hali will be no simple task for Bell. Hali has 22 sacks since moving from defensive end to stand up rush linebacker in two years, and has quickly risen to the top of the league's best pass rushers.
If Bills quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick wants to get off some passes, Bell better be ready.
Bills Wide Receivers vs. Chiefs Cornerbacks
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With former Buffalo Bills starting wide receiver Lee Evans gone, Steve Johnson has moved up the depth chart, allowing some of the younger wideouts on the roster to earn some reps. Donald Jones will be the No. 2 receiver while the group of Marcus Easley, Roscoe Parrish, David Nelson and company look to prove themselves.
Kansas City has a solid secondary, led not only by second-year safety Eric Berry, but two stout cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers, who are quickly developing into top-tier corners in the league.
RB Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones vs. Bills Run Defense
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The Buffalo Bills had the worst run defense in the National Football League last year, allowing almost 170 yards per game on the ground, and facing off against running back Jamaal Charles will be a good test for the newly vamped Bills' front seven.
Last season, Charles rushed 22 times for 177 yards, adding four receptions for 61 yards against the Bills, while Thomas Jones rushed 19 times for 77 yards.
With the Chiefs adding one of the elite fullbacks in the game, Le'Ron McClain, as a lead blocker, the Bills really need their linemen to clog gaps, and utilize their inside linebackers to make stops at the line of scrimmage.
Marcell Dareus/Kyle Williams vs. Jon Asomoah/Barry Richardson
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Last season, opposing offenses simply double-teamed Buffalo Bills nose tackle Kyle Williams, allowing the rest of their offensive line to have their way with the rest of the defensive line. However, with the addition of the Bills' No. 3 overall selection, defensive end Marcell Dareus, things will be a bit different.
Both require double-teams at times, and this could be an advantage the Bills have over the Chiefs, as they will have to decide blocking schemes at the line of scrimmage, allowing one of them to have free rein at a blocker.
OLB Shawne Merriman vs. LT Brandon Albert
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Shawne Merriman has stated that he is back and ready to go return to his performance of his "lights out" days with the San Diego Chargers. Bills fans got a sneak peek of what to expect in his first preseason game against the Chicago Bears, in which Merriman made three tackles and two consecutive sacks in just nine snaps.
Brandon Albert is a solid tackle, but Merriman will really need some help from Dwan Edwards to engage his bull rush and get Matt Cassel on the ground.