In the muddy AFC wild card race, tiebreakers will be more important than ever. With the Chiefs and the Bills two of the favourites to secure a wild card berth, this game could decide the entire AFC playoff picture. The Bills were beaten by the Patriots once again last week, but their defense played much better than they have over the last few weeks. With the offense staying reasonably healthy, the Bills are in a good position to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Chiefs have won their last four games to bring themselves back into the playoff race. Their defense is one of the league’s best, and the offense hasn’t turned the ball over in weeks. Alex Smith takes care of the football and the running game is stronger than ever, even without Jamaal Charles. After knocking the Bills from a potential wild card spot last week, the Chiefs have the chance to knock Buffalo out of contention.
Three Keys to the Game:
1. Kansas City’s offense
With the Bills playing much better defensively last week, the Chiefs will need to play well to beat Rex Ryan. Charcandrick West is listed as questionable, but Spencer Ware should be ready to play after helping the Chiefs win last week. Tight end Travis Kelce is also listed as questionable, which could hurt the Chiefs. But Alex Smith has more than enough targets to throw to when the opportunity arises. Jeremy Maclin can help spread the Bills out and gives Kansas City a legitimate playmaker on the perimeter.
2. Buffalo’s defense
The Bills held New England to just 20 points last week; the lowest points total for the Patriots so far this season. Rex Ryan schemed well to take away New England’s biggest weapons, but the Patriots were also banged up. With the Chiefs mostly healthy, Rex Ryan could find it harder to shut down Kansas City’s efficient offense. Alex Smith hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3, and the Chiefs haven’t turned the ball over in their last four games.
3. Buffalo’s running game
If the Bills can generate a strong running game, they have a chance to beat the Chiefs. Both LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are healthy. By setting up a good running game, the Bills will also be able to get Sammy Watkins involved. But with Tyrod Taylor nursing a shoulder injury, they might struggle to make plays through the air. The Chiefs are also the league’s 5th best run defense, allowing just 92.6 yards per game. Their defensive line is always exerting pressure on opposing backfields, and should be able to handle the Bills on Sunday.
Matchup to watch: Tyrod Taylor vs Justin Houston
With Tyrod Taylor carrying a minor shoulder injury, protecting him from sack artist Justin Houston will be one of Rex Ryan’s highest priorities. The Bills have allowed 29 sacks this season, the same number that the Chiefs have racked up. Kansas City is also adept at forcing fumbles and generating turnovers. They have had 14 interceptions this season and have one of the AFC’s strongest secondaries. Unless the Bills can protect Tyrod Taylor, they will have little chance to beat the Chiefs.
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
The Bills have struggled for consistency this season, something that the Chiefs will be hoping to exploit with their defense. They are more than capable of shutting Buffalo’s offense down, and if Alex Smith can continue to protect the football and the Chiefs can continue to run the ball well, they can effectively knock Buffalo out of the wild card race.