The Buffalo Bills head to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of last season’s Week Eight 13-10 overtime Chief victory. In the offseason, the Chiefs notably added wide receiver Steve Breaston from the Arizona Cardinals to compliment Dwayne Bowe, offensive tackle Jared Gaither from the Baltimore Ravens to improve quarterback Matt Cassel’s protection, and nose tackle Kelly Gregg also from the Ravens to help anchor their defense.
The Bills added inside linebacker Nick Barnett from the Green Bay Packers to replace Paul Pozslusny, defensive end Marcell Dareus from the University of Alabama to help shore up the run defense and put some additional pressure on the quarterback, Wildcat quarterback/wide receiver/kick returner Brad Smith from the New York Jets to add some additional firepower on offense, and have outside linebacker Shawne Merriman fully healthy.
Keys for the Game, Kansas City:
1. Run the ball. The Chiefs were the best running team in all of the NFL last season. The Bills were the worst defense against the run last season. The Chiefs should make the Bills prove that their defense has improved in that facet. Running the ball early and often will also allow the Chiefs to get quarterback Matt Cassel comfortable and receivers Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston involved.
2. Pressure the quarterback. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali had 14.5 sacks in 2010. He had one and a half against the Bills in that Week Eight matchup. Hali getting pressure along with good play on the backend by cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr will go a long way to stifling the Bills’ offense.
Keys for the Game, Buffalo:
1. Contain Jamaal Charles. No defense can truly shut down Charles, one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL, for an entire game. The Bills, with their new-look defense, need to limit Charles’ big plays by players being responsible for their gaps and not over pursuing, which hurt them on more than one occasion throughout last season.
2. Spread the field. With Hali rushing the passer and the two Carrs playing really well at corner, the Bills need to slow the pass rush and gain yards. Look for the Bills to utilize a lot of three and four receiver looks. Wide receiver Roscoe Parrish could be one of the most important players on the field for Buffalo. Spreading the field will give quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick more options to get rid of the ball quickly to slow the pass rush, plus also open things for running backs Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller to sustain drives.
This will be another close game like last year. Even when Charles ran for 177 yards, the Chiefs still needed almost the entire overtime to win. The Bills’ defense has improved, but this will be a great first test for them to see just how far they have come.
Chiefs’ tight end Tony Moeaki ending up on injured reserve to start the season will hurt their offense and be a big help to the Bills. Tight ends have killed the Bills in previous seasons, hence the acquisition of Nick Barnett, but even with that, Moeaki was a huge part of the Chiefs’ offense.
Prediction: Bills win a close game, somewhere in the vicinity of 17-13.
Now to fire all those fans up for Opening Day (not that anyone needs it, but here it is)…
Let’s Go Buffalo!