Rewind: Buffalo Take Five

Posted Nov 1, 2010

Revisiting five points from pre-game

Each week we outline five areas of emphasis prior to kickoff, and then we re-visit them on Monday. Let's rewind our Take Five: Buffalo.

Week Eight has arrived as the Chiefs begin the backend of a pivotal two-game home stand. Taking care of business at home is critical to winning division championships and today’s game against Buffalo is no different. Three of the Chiefs four wins have come at Arrowhead this season.

Here are five areas to focus your attention as the Chiefs aim to extend their Arrowhead record to 4-0 in 2010.

1)      Fast Start

The Chiefs can’t afford to have a start like they did last Sunday against Jacksonville. The best way to put down a winless team is to extend an early lead and keep the foot on the accelerator. Buffalo’s high-powered offense has a confidence not normally associated with a winless record. The Bills are coming off a confidence-building 34-point output in Baltimore and pasted 30 on the board in New England earlier this year.  This team can score.

An early Buffalo lead could turn into a backyard brawl against a team hungry for its first taste of victory this season. That’s not something that the Chiefs want to get into. Arrowhead has been rocking of late. One big play in the early-goings could make this one a rough day for the visitors.

The pace of play favored Buffalo throughout the day.

Kansas City dominated the first half, but only had a 7-0 halftime lead to show for it. Though the Chiefs outgained Buffalo 205 to 58 over the first 30 minutes of play, most of the big plays were rather anonymous and Kansas City had trouble finishing off offensive drives. The sacks were there (3.0) and the rushing totals were in place (135 yards), but Kansas City couldn’t make an early separation from Buffalo.

A slow start on the scoreboard helped keep Buffalo hungry for its first victory throughout the afternoon.

2)      Stop The Run

Stopping the run seems to be a point of emphasis every week, but it continues to be a critical part component of achieving victory each and every week as well. With the league’s worst scoring defense at 33.0 points per game, Buffalo will look to control the clock with their offense. To do that, they’ll have to run the football successfully.

Bills RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined for 30 carries in last Sunday’s near-victory in Baltimore and both head coach Chan Gailey and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick talked earlier this week about establishing the run against Kansas City.

The best defense is when the opponents’ offense is on the sidelines. Forcing the Bills into the air will lead to more offensive snaps for the Chiefs.

Buffalo finished with 137 rushing yards and 4.2 yards per carry, but Fitzpatrick skewed those numbers with his scrambles under pressure (6-43, 7.2 avg.). Buffalo’s primary ball carrier, Fred Jackson, gained only 64 yards on 20 carries and rookie C.J. Spiller was a non-factor with six carries for just 17 yards.

With that said, Buffalo made a statement to begin the second half with a 15-play drive that chewed nearly nine minutes off the clock. Keeping the 32nd ranked scoring defense off the field for 60% of the third quarter was critical in keeping the score tight. In the fourth quarter, Buffalo almost did the same thing with a 15-play drive that took up over seven minutes.

3)      Smart Football

The Chiefs have taken advantage of teams that are prone to turning over the football and drawing penalties. The Bills don’t fit into either of those categories.

A well-disciplined team, Buffalo has been flagged the third-fewest times in the league. They’re actually more efficient than Kansas City in this area (29 flags vs. 30 flags). Buffalo has also been less prone to make offensive mistakes since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as starting quarterback as well

Going up against an offense that doesn’t commit many self-inflicting plays means that the Chiefs must win the turnover and penalty battle.

Committing no turnovers on Sunday was crucial. Just one giveaway and the Chiefs could very well be sitting at 4-3 today. It was that close of a game. Of course, if just one of Buffalo’s three fumbles would have bounced the right way, Chiefs fans might have never gone through the ulcer-creating overtime period.

Penalty numbers were low in this game with both teams committing only five foul, but the Chiefs played smarter football than the Bills by finished with a +1 turnover ratio. Had Eric Berry not picked off Fitzpatrick in the closing minute of the fourth quarter, the Bills might have pushed far enough for a game-winning field goal attempt.

4)      Coverage Units

The Chiefs normally reliable special teams units were spotty in kick coverage against Jacksonville last weekend. Buffalo has more offensive weapons than the injury-depleted Jaguars possessed with Todd Bouman leading the charge. Buffalo’s offense already moves the football and doesn’t need a short field to work with. Kansas City has a handful of core special teams players that will need to get the coverage units back on track this Sunday.

Buffalo’s average start position was their own 21-yard line and Bills returners were held in check most of the day. However, the one coverage miscue that did occur made for some tense moments. Roscoe Parrish’s 33-yard punt return to the Kansas City 48-yard line put the defense in a vulnerable position with only 1:17 left to play.

5)      4-3/3-4

Buffalo is in the middle of an in-season transition with their base defensive set. Switching to a 4-3 scheme could be a better fit for the Bills personnel, but it also gives them an ability to show and play multiple fronts throughout a game.

The potential line shifts shouldn’t be a problem for veterans like Casey Wiegmann and Brian Waters, but Kansas City may see some things that they haven’t prepared for this week. If Ryan Lilja (thumb) can’t play today, the Chiefs veterans will be relied upon to help the youngsters on the right side of the offensive front (Jon Asamoah and Barry Richardson).

Matt Cassel was sacked a season-high 3.0 times on Sunday. Going into the game, Cassel had only been sacked 5.0 times through six games. Past that, however, the play of the offensive line was superb.

You can’t argue with 274 rushing yards, especially when the right guard is basically making his professional debut. Asamoah had played in less than 20 offensive snaps before Sunday afternoon and did an admirable job filling in for the injured Lilja.

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