Chiefs vs. Bills: Five Things to Watch

Here are five storylines to keep in mind as the Chiefs take on the Bills on Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs (5-5) host the Buffalo Bills (5-5) Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here are five things to watch for during the game: 

1. Can the Chiefs slow down the Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor?

It took him four years to get an opportunity, but Taylor's patience since being selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens has worked out for him—and for the Bills, who signed him this past offseason.

He's playing at a very high level in his first opportunity to start in the NFL.

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Coming into 2015, Taylor had attempted only 35 passes in his career.

"I think [Taylor] is a really good player that a lot of people don't know about or appreciate," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said this week. "He has the same quarterback rating I think that [Philip Rivers] did last week when we played him, a similar interception-touchdown ratio."

Taylor has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in eight starts this season.

But perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Taylor's skill set is in his legs, which have produced 244 yards rushing on 51 attempts this season. His 5 rushes of 20 yards or more is the most on a Bills team that ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing at 138 yards per game.

"His ability to maneuver makes him an additional problem," Sutton added. "I think the other thing about him, and this is the outside looking in, he's very calm and very even. I think that's the perfect guy you'd want leading your team."

This will be the eighth consecutive year the Chiefs have faced the Bills, and while Taylor gives them a new face to prepare for, he's earned the respect of the Chiefs coaching staff.

"He reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson," Sutton said. "Not in stature and all of that stuff, but I mean in just how he runs his team. He's done a great job and it appears the players really respond to him. I think he's a heck of a football player and a great competitor."

2. Can the Chiefs match the Bills physicality?

If there's one common component to a Rex Ryan-led defense, it's physicality.

"I think that's the way they're built," Sutton said of the Bills identity. "I know Rex having worked with him and on all phases of the game, he's going to expect his team to be ready to play as physical as anybody in the league.

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"I think they're demonstrating that right now. You know what you're going to get. You know what it's going to take. They're never going to blink, so you can't either. You just have to dig in and get ready for a heck of a fight."

The Bills will be without a couple of their standout defensive players in defensive linemen Kyle Williams and Mario Williams, who both played in the 17-13 win for the Chiefs last season in Buffalo.

While the personnel on the field is different and its Ryan's first year leading the Bills, there are other things that will help the Chiefs prepare for this game.

"The nice thing is being able to fall back on all of our training camp stuff, because we do have a similar defense as far as scheme goes," quarterback Alex Smith said. "You try to fall back on some of that because our defense is the same, but you still don't totally know what you're going to get."

Sutton, having worked under Ryan for four years (2009-12) with the New York Jets as his linebackers coach, is familiar with this scheme.

"I think the thing you realize is with Rex, who knows what you're going to get," Smith added. "You could get something different, you could get the same thing.

"It's just tough to tell so you try to get ready for a lot."

On the other side of the ball, Buffalo's ability to run the football matches the physicality-minded coach's personality, and it's something the Chiefs defense is ready for and looking forward to.

"It's always physical and I love it," defensive lineman Dontari Poe said. "When you know you're coming out to an offensive line like they have—it's going to be physical, so you have to wake up ready.

"There's nothing better in the NFL than something like that."

3. The recipe isn't a secret: take care of the ball and win the game

Over the past four games, the Chiefs have forced 12 turnovers without turning it over once themselves.

That statistic right there explains the reason behind much of their recent success, especially considering that the four consecutive games they haven't turned it over is a franchise record.

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The Bills aren't known for turning it over. They only have just 12 giveaways this season (7 interceptions, 5 fumbles).

If the Chiefs are going to pick up their sixth win of the season and get over the .500 mark for the first time in 68 days, the turnover ratio needs to be in their favor.

To add even more of an emphasis on taking care of the football, according to recent forecasts, the weather isn't going to be great on Sunday with a high of 39 degrees and a chance of rain.

Football weather is finally here.

4. Young cornerback shining for Bills defense—a familiar storyline

The Bills have a high rookie draft pick that is playing exceptionally well at cornerback.

It's a familiar storyline for Chiefs fans, who have watched first-round pick Marcus Peters make plays, quite literally, from his first NFL snap.

For the Bills, it's second-round pick Ronald Darby out of Florida State who has been making plays since day one. He's played more than 90 percent of their defensive snaps, ranking second on the team in that category among defensive backs this season.

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"He really challenges you on the outside," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of Darby. "He's playing like a seasoned veteran and I think he's feeding off of the veteran-type guys he has around him. That's really been a big plus for him as a corner."

Darby ranks No. 1 in the NFL with 18 passes defensed this season, and he has the attention of the Chiefs.

"He knows what he's doing," quarterback Alex Smith noted. "He's good – good when they man him up. He's fast and recovers well.

"I think he doesn't necessarily play like a rookie."

Between Darby and Peters, there's a lot of discussion as to who might be the favorite to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award this season.

It's a battle worth watching on Sunday.


LAST TIME THEY MET

The Kansas City Chiefs visit the Buffalo Bills in week 10 of the 2014 season.


5. The Chiefs running back situation

With second-year player Charcandrick West missing the majority of practice time this week with a hamstring injury suffered last week against the San Diego Chargers, all eyes look towards the newly-featured Spencer Ware, who ran with his opportunity in the 33-3 win over the Chargers last week.

In limited time, Ware carried the ball 11 times for 96 yards with 2 touchdowns, displaying a nice combination of both speed and strength.

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Perhaps more impressive was Ware's mindset after the game, which was one of gratitude, not one of seeking adulation.

"He's a very humble kid," Pederson explained. "He came to us from Seattle and we didn't know how he was going to pan out here, but he's a hard-worker, tough kid and it was exciting to see him run with that opportunity."

With the uncertainty of West's availability, third-year pro Knile Davis and Ware would be the next men-up in the backfield for the Chiefs.

If Ware's name gets called, he's excited about the opportunity to face a physical Bills defense.

"That's the mindset of my run style, to bring that physical aspect to the game," Ware explained. "I wasn't here last year when they played Buffalo, but I've heard some things and done some studying on them. There's really good athletes and they get after it, so all of my respect goes to them.

"I think it's going to be a battle, regardless. That's what every game is like in the NFL."

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