Ron Schwane USA Today Sports
Even though the Buffalo Bills will start Jeff Tuel at quarterback on Sunday, they have the chops defensively to make things very difficult for the Chiefs offense. That means this game, like so many others this season for Kansas City, won't likely yield an easy victory for the undefeated AFC West leaders.
Normally I like to carve out a few names of players that need to step up in order for the Chiefs to carve up their upcoming opponents. But this game is too large for me to single out four or five players. To win this game on Sunday, the entire team has to band together.
The Buffalo Bills stand 3-5 on the year thanks in large part to their quarterback play. Until an injury torpedoed his rookie season, E.J. Manual, had done a nice job with the Bills offense.
Since he went down, Thad Lewis emerged as his back-up but he’s hobbled and won’t suit up Sunday against Kansas City. That means Sunday’s game ball will likely be handed to the inexperienced, Jeff Tuel, and veteran journeyman, Matt Flynn, will be his primary back-up.
Neither quarterback possess the offensive talents to compete against the Chiefs highly rated defense. But in the whacky world of the NFL, that really doesn’t matter.
Two weeks ago the Jacksonville Jaguars marched into Denver and gave the Broncos all they could handle. Thursday night the Dolphins upset the Cincinnati Bengals, despite the fact Miami had looked awful losing their last four games.
In passing the halfway point of the season undefeated, Kansas City has enjoyed some heart pounding squeakers. Still there is denying they are 8-0 and this column isn’t going to spend time defending the Chiefs opponents. They beat the men on the other side of the ball eight of out eight times. Enough said.
On Sunday in Buffalo, they need to do whatever it takes to extend that streak to nine. Even though this game smells a lot like the Chiefs road victory at Jacksonville, it’s anything from a lock.
Sure if Manuel or Lewis was playing Sunday the upset minded Bills would have a better chance to defeat the Chiefs. But this is a game, that if the Chiefs don’t beat themselves which they’ve not shown a frequency to do this season, they should be able to walk out of Orchard Park with a win.
Still the NFL Gods haven’t been too kind to the Chiefs in Buffalo. The last time they won there, Todd Blackledge, was the teams starting quarterback back in the 80’s. Before that some guy name, Len Dawson, defeated the Bills on the road.
So even though I’m skittish on this game, I firmly believe this won’t be a much of a contest in the fourth quarter. Until then, I might be screaming at the television set a bit more than I’d like to in the mid-afternoon hours.
Even though the Chiefs are heavy favorites this battle between two AFL originals is one that can’t be overlooked. After all, the Chiefs face division rival Denver in Primetime two weeks from Sunday. With the bye week ahead, it’s easy to assume the Chiefs will look past the Bills much like they did against the Browns last weekend at Arrowhead.
That’s why this game might be the one that ultimately defines new head coach, Andy Reid. He admitted last week that he was far too conservative at times and that he needs to ante up his game a bit in regards to play calling. In other words, he might open up more of his playbook.
Should that be the case Quarterback, Alex Smith, will be able to throw over the top of the Bills secondary. They are talented but take far too many chances going for interceptions rather than keeping the play in front of them.
Granted Smith isn’t the downfield marksman some Chiefs would like from their undefeated quarterback, he could still have a big day. The Bills defensive front seven is pretty darn good but if given time in the pocket, Smith could have a 300-yard passing day.
For me, all I want on Sunday is to get out of Buffalo with a win, listen to the NFL mouthpieces complain about KC’s back-up quarterback competition and how tainted their 9-0 record is heading into Denver.
But what everyone forgets is the Chiefs, no matter the lack of respect their getting nationally, they are still playing with House Money!
Nobody expected this hot start and nobody thought after week nine they would virtually lock up a playoff spot. For me, that’s all that matters.
So win or lose, nothing is going to change the what the Chiefs critics are saying about their season to date. Because even if the Chiefs put up 40 points on the Bills this team won’t be judged fairly until the face the Broncos in Denver and back in Kansas City.
Yes to be honest, I’m looking ahead, as most Chiefs fans are to their AFC West battles, but that’s not a bad thing. As fans, that’s what we do. On the flip side though, let’s hope the players on the Chiefs sidelines aren’t doing the same thing.
If they do and they let up for a single series or two against, Jeff Tuel, his fifteen minutes of fame will last for sixty minutes.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
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