Share this article

print logo

Pregame primer: Bills vs. Chiefs (plus five things I'm looking for)

It might not be fair to say the Buffalo Bills' season is on the line Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

But it's not that unfair, either.

That's how important the game is for the Bills in the AFC postseason race. Buffalo is currently in the eighth position, on the outside looking in. The Chiefs hold the sixth and final playoff spot, with their 5-5 record beating out the Bills by way of a better AFC record. The Bills can move a game ahead of the Chiefs with a win, but in essence it would be two games, because Buffalo would hold the all-important head-to-head victory, which is the first tiebreaker.

So there is plenty on the line inside Arrowhead Stadium. Here are all the details you need to know for the team's second straight game in prime time, plus five things I'll be looking for:

• TV: CBS. Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play by play), Rich Gannon (color analyst).

• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).

• Series history: Bills lead, 23-19-1. Last meeting: Nov. 9, 2014, 17-13 Chiefs' win in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills and Chiefs are playing for the eighth consecutive season.

• Milestone watch: Running back LeSean McCoy needs 98 yards from scrimmage to reach 10,000 for his career.

• Uni watch: The Bills are going with combination of white jerseys and blue pants against the Chiefs.

• Next up: The Bills return home for another huge AFC game against the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. Dec. 6.

Once Sunday's game gets started, here are five things I'll be looking for:

1. Seantrel Henderson vs. Justin Houston. This is a mismatch in the Chiefs' favor. Henderson will need some help against one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. That could mean sticking a tight end -- either Charles Clay or Matthew Mulligan -- on the right side of the Bills' offensive line, or having a running back shade over in that direction. Surprisingly enough, the Bills have held Houston without a sack in four career games. Extending that streak to five would be a big accomplishment.

2. Sammy Watkins vs. Marcus Peters. The Bills' top receiver is likely to see plenty of Peters, the Chiefs' rookie cornerback who is playing at a high level. Bills coach Rex Ryan made it clear leading up to the game that he wants to see offensive coordinator Greg Roman get Watkins more involved early, going so far as to mention "forcing it" to him being ok. If that happens, Peters has shown good ball skills and could be a threat to create turnovers. The Bills do need to get Watkins going, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor can't get careless with the ball.

3. Kansas City's inactives list. The Chiefs have two key injuries to watch. Running back Charcandrick West and tight end Travis Kelce are both questionable for the game. West is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Kelce a groin. Both are key players for the Kansas City offense. If West can't go, the team would be down to third-string running back Spencer Ware, with starter Jamaal Charles already on injured reserve.

4. Tyrod Taylor's attempts. As mentioned in this week's scouting report, the Bills are 5-0 when Tyrod Taylor attempts fewer than 30 passes, and 0-3 when he throws 30 or more times in a game. Taylor was limited in practice during the week because of a shoulder injury. There's no question he'll play, but just how much the injury will have an impact on his throwing ability remains to be seen. No doubt, the Bills will want to establish the run game with LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams to take the heat off Taylor.

5. The kicking game. In what's expected to be a close game, special teams could be the area where a big play swings things. In Dustin Colquitt and Cairo Santos, Kansas City has one of the best punter-kicker combinations in the NFL. The Bills feel like their pairing of Colton Schmidt and Dan Carpenter is up there, too, but Carpenter missed a field goal last week against the Patriots and Schmidt dropped a punt two weeks ago against the Jets. Those are the types of errors that will have to be avoided against Kansas City.

Story topics: / / / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment