Sunday, November 3, 2013

Four Point Stance: Chiefs at Bills


The Buffalo Bills are heading toward starting quarterback No. 3 this weekend — not an optimal position to be in when you're facing the league's lone undefeated team.

While undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is expected to get the nod against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday based on his experience in the system, the 22-year-old's first appearance this year was anything but smooth, completing just 40 percent of his passes in a fill-in role for E.J. Manuel. This time around, Tuel will be subbing for Thad Lewis.

Justin Houston and the Kansas City defense are surely salivating over the news, as the unit handily leads the league in sacks and would love nothing more than a shot at an inexperienced signal-caller on the road. The Chiefs' secondary is holding opposing quarterbacks to just over 200 yards per game, while the defensive line, who will likely see a heavy dose of the Bills' run game, has been solid, as well.

When the Bills have the ball:
Buffalo has been forced to rely heavily on its running back tandem since Manuel's injury, which is likely to continue Sunday. While Kansas City's run defense is ranked 10th overall in the league right now, the squad has allowed runners to average 4.7 yards per carry. That's a number Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have to be excited by, particularly given their flair for long runs at pretty much any given moment. When the duo isn't trying to wear down the Chiefs' stout front, look for them out in the flat (or in a lot of pass protection), as Buffalo's passing game will likely revolve around quick, short passes to neutralize a treacherous pass rush.

When the Chiefs have the ball:
Quarterback Alex Smith has never been a game-changer under center, but he rarely makes big mistakes. Expect the veteran signal-caller to take what Mike Pettine's defense gives him and spread the ball around as much as possible, which he's done successfully up to this point. Running back Jamaal Charles will likely be asked to do much of the leg work against a Bills run defense allowing nearly 120 yards per game, while he's also the team's leader in receiving yards with 383. Buffalo will need to use its own dynamic pass rush effectively to keep Kansas City's offense at bay, particularly since Smith's passer rating while under pressure drops significantly from his average.

Turnovers. Buffalo has been solid at forcing them this season, but they're up against a squad that touts the league's best turnover rate at plus-12. Smith and the KC offense have turned the ball over only eight times so far this season, while the defense has forced a staggering 20 turnovers already. The Bills' offense has only had one game so far this season without a turnover, and another question mark game in regards to the quarterback position only adds to the potential for more turnover trouble.

Buffalo holds a 23-17-1 record against Kansas City and has won five of its last six meetings. At the Ralph, the Bills hold a 66 percent winning percentage against the Chiefs and beat the team 35-17 at home last season. Spiller ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns in that game, with former QB Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for a pair of TDs himself. A win Sunday would make three in a row for Buffalo against the Chiefs.

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