It seems like we were just here getting ready for the Tuesday night primetime game. Fortunately for the Bills, they have an opportunity on a short week to put that awful performance in Nashville behind them. Unfortunately for the Bills, they are playing the reigning Super Bowl champions. Let’s dive into some of the key components to this game, as the Bills look to avoid back-to-back losses.
The Last Five
Bills 16 Chiefs 10 (2017)
Chiefs 30 Bills 22 (2015)
Chiefs 17 Bills 13 (2014)
Chiefs 23 Bills 13 (2013)
Bills 35 Chiefs 17 (2012)
After playing the Chiefs for eight straight seasons (which is remarkable for a non-division opponent), from 2008 to 2015, the Bills haven’t seen them since Sean McDermott’s first year as the Bills head coach. Since then, nearly everything about the two teams has changed. One thing that is pretty surprising, looking at recent history, are the low scores. I am fairly confident in guaranteeing that the winner of this game won’t be scoring just 16 points.
What To Watch For: Buffalo Bills
Defense (Again) – As I said last week, until the Bills field a competitive defense, this will always be something to watch going into gamedays. I never would have thought that the defense would be the weak link of the Bills roster, but through five games, it is clear that it is. After the Titans game, Sean McDermott was visibly upset with the performance on defense, and on Monday, he told reporters that he takes it personally when his defense struggles. The Bills had a similar stretch of poor performances on defense back in 2017 before tightening things up for the rest of the season. I trust McDermott with the schemes and game planning to fully utilize the players on the team. But is it possible that it is the players that are the problem this time around? One thing is for sure: Andy Reid is going to try to exploit each and every problem that the Bills have on defense. Let’s hope for this primetime game, they are up for the challenge.
Running Game – The Bills have had a pretty nonexistent run game through the first five games of the year. A clear sign that management was not thrilled with the production in the run game was the Bills interest in free agent Le’Veon Bell after he hit the open market this last week. Rookie Zach Moss will return tonight for the first time since Week 2 against the Dolphins. It was in that Dolphins game that Moss had the most productive game for a Bills running back this year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. While getting Moss going would be a good sign for the Bills, the lack of production out of Singletary is a concern. Even in the passing game, Singletary has not been the threat that he was last year. The addition of Diggs has taken away some targets from Singletary, but you bet the Bills would love to get “Motor” going this week.
Allen Rebound – For the first time this season, Josh Allen looked human. More specifically, Josh Allen looked like Josh Allen from 2019. Make no mistake, last year was a great year for Allen, as he was a 10-win quarterback and lead his team to the playoffs. He did not look like the 2020 version of himself, someone who catapulted himself into the MVP discussion. From early in the Titans game, it was clear to observers that Allen looked like he was chasing it a bit–forcing some throws, trying to make too much happen, etc. I am interested to see if Allen returns to his Weeks 1-4 version of himself or if we see an uncomfortable Allen once again.
What To Watch For: Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Line – There aren’t many weaknesses for the Super Bowl champs, but one of them is their offensive line. The Chiefs lost their starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif before the season began, as he decided to opt-out of the season and instead work with front-line workers on pandemic relief efforts in Canada. Their 3rd round pick, who was slated to compete for a starting job also opted out of the season. Finally just last week, Kelechi Osemele, the replacement for Duvernay-Tardif, was injured and lost for the season. The injury concerns loom large for a team that just gave up pressure on 48% of Mahomes’ drop backs last week. With the Bills’ defensive line looking for a rebound game, this matchup could be trouble for Kansas City.
Defense – The Chiefs have had some defensive problems of their own in this early season, as they currently rank behind the Bills in total defensive yards given up. Similar to the position the Bills are in, if they are looking for a game to rebound defensively, this might not be the best opponent for that. The Chiefs have the fourth-worst run defense in the league, allowing 157 rushing yards per game against. As it often is, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage will be a vital piece of winning this game for the Chiefs.
Responding from Loss – Since Patrick Mahomes became the Chiefs starter, he has only lost back-to-back games on two occasions. That might not be saying that much for a quarterback that only has lost eight games in his career, but it is worth mentioning that following six of his eight career losses, Mahomes and the Chiefs were able to right the ship and win the following week. After being embarrassed by the Raiders last week, the Chiefs will want to move on from their division loss in a convincing fashion and reassert themselves as AFC contenders with a win over the Bills. One of the best attributes of a champion is the mental toughness that prevents a loss from lingering and “beating them twice.” Andy Reid’s team has made that a staple over the past few years and will look to continue that trend against the Bills.
Chiefs 34 Bills 28 With the exception of being different teams, the Bills and Chiefs are in nearly identical positions. Both are looking to rebound from embarrassing losses and climb back into the discussion for the top team in the AFC, both have had underwhelming defensives so far this year, and both have a quarterback in the MVP discussion. This will be a tough loss to swallow for either team, as the loser will essentially fall two games behind the other in the AFC Standings, as the winner would hold the tiebreak.
Thinking about AFC seedings and home-field advantage in the playoffs, the importance of this game cannot be understated. Unfortunately, I just don’t see the Bills being able to keep up in this game considering the defensive struggles. The Chiefs have the talent, both on the sideline with Reid and on the field with Mahomes, to exploit the weaknesses that the Bills have put on film, and I think that will be too much for the Bills to overcome. I also think the lack of fans will impact this game. This was the game that fans circled when the schedule was announced, and to not have the Mafia in the stands for a primetime home game is another gut punch for the Bills, who will need to play their best game of the year to knock off the reigning world champions.