Here are my five takes on the Buffalo Bills' game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium:
1. Tyrod Taylor comes storming back with a vengeance.
Regardless of whether he'll ever admit as much publicly, Taylor's pride took a major hit when Sean McDermott benched him last week. Restoring his status as a starter for this game doesn't change that. It simply was a logical response to Nathan Peterman confirming suspicions that he would look every bit like the ill-prepared rookie he was during that first-half disaster that led to a 54-24 humiliation against the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday.
It does nothing to change the fact Taylor has no future with the Bills beyond this season. But that doesn't mean he has to play like a lame duck.
It behooves Taylor to pour all of the time and effort he can into giving a lights-out showing for as long as McDermott rides with him as a starter. That might not convince McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane to keep him, but it certainly will help Taylor land a decent contract elsewhere after the Bills turn him loose.
The Chiefs have lost four of their last five games largely because they have the NFL's 28th-ranked pass defense. They made a desperate move to boost their secondary by signing veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis. But it's hard to imagine that will change all that much for a defense that routinely gives up chunk plays through the air. Taylor needs to take advantage of that. His running threat is also something with which the Chiefs' defense, ranked 28th overall, is more than capable of struggling.
2. LeSean McCoy picks up where he left off in L.A.
Calling it a bright spot in one of the worst games the Bills have ever played would be a bit of an overstatement. Yet, there is something to be said for the fact McCoy rushed 13 times for 114 yards and averaged 8.8 yards per carry. He had a couple of explosive runs when the game was still competitive, a sign he's making an honest effort to stay above the smoldering rubble of the past few weeks.
McCoy is more than capable of having another strong outing against the Chiefs, who rank 29th in the league against the run.
Taylor's presence could help open things up, especially on the early downs, because the Chiefs' D must respect the quarterback's ability to work his bootlegs off play-action.
3. This would be an ideal time to start taking the ball away again.
Remember when the Bills were the NFL's top-ranked team in turnover differential? Remember that incredible stretch of four games in which they took the ball away three or more times?
It seems as if it happened years ago. It was a large part of why the Bills got to 5-2 and created buzz throughout the league.
The Bills have fallen into a 10th-place tie with a turnover differential of plus-five and have only one takeaway, a fumble recovery, in their last three games. They continue to harp on being a ball-hawking team, looking to recapture that early season magic. It won't be easy against the Chiefs, who are tied for fifth with a turnover differential of plus-seven. They've also given the ball away only seven times.
Alex Smith had a mere three interceptions, but the Bills must somehow put together a pass rush that contains the mobile quarterback and pressures him into mistakes.
4. Give being "in the hunt" a whole new meaning.
McDermott used the phrase a half-dozen times Wednesday as he discussed the big-picture perspective on the Bills going back to Taylor as their starter. He was, of course, talking about being in the playoff picture with a 5-5 record.
But the Bills also need to be as focused as possible on being in and on and all over Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs' rookie running back who ranks second in the NFL with 873 rushing yards and is averaging five yards per carry. He also has four touchdowns on the ground.
The Bills didn't allow Melvin Gordon, the Chargers' featured back, to trample them; he gained 80 yards on 20 carries. Of course, the Chargers didn't need a dominant run game to beat the Bills, who constantly gave them the ball and good field position -- and whose offense gave the Chargers touchdowns on a pick-six and a fumble recovery return.
The Bills are smallish up front and age is showing in some spots. Having all of the sound "gap integrity" in the world might not make a difference Sunday, but if Hunt is consistently ripping off long gains, the Bills don't have a prayer.
5. McDermott has to reaffirm he's a poised leader with sound judgement.
The Peterman mistake will haunt him for awhile. But it doesn't necessarily have to damage his credibility.
McDermott took a risk and it exploded in his face. Now, he must demonstrate, especially to his players, that he has learned from the error. Going right back to Taylor was a good start.
Being more rational and less impetuous with his decision-making, while avoiding signs of desperation and panic are vital for McDermott through a stretch run that could very well lead to the end of a 17-year playoff drought.