Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Buffalo Bills
- QuarterbackAndy Reid may be changing the accepted definition of what a winning quarterback means to the team. He appears to be turning the clock backwards with Alex Smith, who is truly a game manager in 2013 and the results have given the Chiefs an 8-0 record. Smith is leading the Chiefs’ conservative offense and he is keeping mistakes to a minimum.The Bills were falling in love with first-round draft choice E.J. Manuel, but his knee injury is likely to keep him sidelined until deep in November. Backup Thad Lewis has some attributes that can keep the Bills competitive, but he lacks experience and sophistication and he makes mistakes when the game is on the line.
- OffenseThe Chiefs have to use a solid ground game as the foundation for a productive offense. Jamaal Charles is an explosive runner who has gained 635 yards and has scored six touchdowns. He is also the team’s leading pass catcher with 41 receptions. Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster are decent receivers who play with effort, but the same cannot be said about disappointing Dwayne Bowe.The Bills have a chance to challenge the Chiefs’ hard hitting and physical defense if their running game is healthy. Fred Jackson gives it everything he has on a weekly basis and is solid, but C.J. Spiller (ankle) could not play in Week Eight vs. the Saints. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson is emotional on the sidelines, but he can make the big catch in clutch situations.
- DefenseThe Chiefs are undefeated this season because they have been stellar on the defensive side of the ball. They rank 5th overall and nobody has been more consistent than middle linebacker Derrick Johnson, who has a team-high 61 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have combined for 20.0 sacks and appear to be unstoppable.The Bills are capable of playing extremely well on the defensive side when defensive end Mario Williams is motivated to leave it all on the field. Williams has 11.0 sacks and has the athletic ability to take over any game. Linebacker Kiko Alonso has been the Bills’ most consistent player with a team-high 81 tackles and four interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Chiefs have had excellent special teams play this season as they have limited opponents in the return game while McCluster has returned a punt for a score and remains a consistent threat. Ryan Succop has had a solid year – 15-of-18 on FG attempts, but he is just 1-of-4 on 50-plus yard attempts.Head coach Doug Marrone has not been happy with the job the Bills have done on special teams as their coverage has been lax and they have not had a punt or kickoff return longer than 26 yards all season. Placekicker Dan Carpenter has made 16-of-18 FG attempts, including 3-of-4 on long kicks.
The bubble is going to burst sooner or later for the Chiefs and this could be the week if Lewis can minimize his mistakes and Williams comes motivated to play his best game. If not, Kansas City moves to 9-0. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor