Chiefs vs. Bills: Five Things to Watch

Here are some storylines to keep in mind for Sunday afternoon

The Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) will play host to the Buffalo Bills (5-5) Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium, where they have won 20 of their last 26 games and three of four this year.

It'll be nice for the Chiefs to finally get back to Arrowhead. It has been almost a month since the Chiefs last played a home game, and that was when they went out and beat the Denver Broncos, 29-19, on Monday Night Football back in October.

Since then, the Chiefs have had their bye week and gone on the road twice against the Cowboys and Giants.

The temperature for Sunday's game is set to be in the 60s, which is pretty unusual for the Kansas City area in late-November. The average temperature for this time of the year is in the lower 40s.

"This is beautiful," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week of the recent weather. "A lot of people are in town (for Thanksgiving), so, let's go, man. Let's rock Arrowhead. That's a great thing when that's taking place. I look forward to that, and our guys do too.

"It should be an exciting atmosphere."

Both teams came hot out of the gate this year but have since cooled off a bit.

The Chiefs began the season with five-consecutive wins, including key victories over the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, before dropping four of the last five.

The Bills, who are led by first-year head coach Sean McDermott—a former Andy Reid assistant of 12 years with the Eagles (1999-2010)—also started strong but have dropped three in a row after beginning the season 5-2.

"This is the time of the year that teams begin to separate themselves," Chiefs' quarterback Alex Smith recently said.

It's two teams with postseason aspirations meeting at the third turn of the AFC playoff race, and there are plenty of storylines to follow in this one.

Here are five things to watch for Bills-Chiefs on Sunday:

  1. The potential return of a few players

Last week against the New York Giants, the Chiefs were without receiver Albert Wilson, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, and linebacker Tamba Hali.

And there's a chance they play against the Bills because all of them practiced in some capacity this week. All three are officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Linebackers Dee Ford (back) and Terrance Smith (concussion) have already been ruled OUT.

For the Bills, offensive linemen Cordy Glenn and John Miller, and running back Mike Tolbert have already been ruled out. Glenn (5) and Miller (4) have each started multiple games for the Bills this season.

One more thing to keep an eye on is that three of the Bills' top passing targets—tight end Charles Clay (ankle), along with receivers Deonte Thompson (ankle) and Jordan Matthews (ankle)—are all listed as questionable.

Clay is the team's top passing option—hauling in 25 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was listed as questionable on Friday with an ankle injury, has reportedly been downgraded to OUT and won't make the trip to Kansas City.

  1. Does Tyrod Taylor play like a guy with something to prove?

The Bills made plenty of headlines by benching starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman last week against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The move didn't go as expected as Peterman tossed five first-half interceptions and was ultimately benched for Taylor in the second half. The Bills lost that game, 54-24, and are going back with Taylor as their starting quarterback this week against the Chiefs.

For Taylor, the game on Sunday is a chance to prove something to his coaches and teammates.

"He's one of those guys who can be standing close and you can't get him down," Chiefs' defensive coordinator Bob Sutton explained of Taylor. "Any time you have a quarterback who can extend plays and make plays and do the things he does it makes it really difficult because it stresses the defense.

"He scrambles more than any quarterback in our league, he's a dangerous guy."

Taylor has completed 64 percent of his passes for an average of 169 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year.

But as Sutton mentioned, Taylor's running ability comes to the tune of 4.8 yards per rush and three touchdowns on the ground. So, there's a lot of pressure this week on the Chiefs' outside linebackers this week to help contain him inside of the pocket.  

  1. The Chiefs' run defense vs. LeSean McCoy

With so much talk about Taylor this week, and rightfully so—it is the quarterback position, the focus shouldn't be taken off of the player who really makes this Bills' offense work, and that's running back LeSean McCoy.

Since entering the league with Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 as a second-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, McCoy leads the NFL with 9,663 yards rushing.

Even now in his ninth season, McCoy doesn't show many signs of slowing down, ranking eighth in the league with 709 yards on the ground, including nine runs of 20 yards or more, which leads the league.

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The Chiefs' rush defense, which has been better over the past couple of games—holding the Cowboys and Giants' starting running backs to less than 3.8 yards per carry—currently ranks 29th in the league by allowing 129.2 yards per game on the ground.

One player looking to build of his recent success and a guy who will be a major factor in hoping to slow down McCoy is inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, who will be facing the team who drafted him on Sunday as he came over in a trade with the Bills at the end of the preseason.

Ragland, who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, is coming off the best game of his young career against the Giants, where he finished with a team-high nine tackles and was graded as one of Pro Football Focus' best linebackers last week. He spoke about facing some familiar faces and the team that traded him away a few months ago.

"Me and (Bills' running back) Mike Tolbert talked (this week)—that's my guy," Ragland said explained. "We're always talking junk, friendly, but we know how it's going to be this week. For the most part man, all those guys, I got nothing but love for those guys over there. Preston [Brown], Ryan Davis, Shaq Lawson, everybody. I've got no blood for those guys. It's business."

  1. The performance in the red zone

Over the last five games, the Chiefs' offense has gone just 2 of 12 inside the red zone. On the flip side, the Chiefs' opponents over that same stretch have gone 10 of 17 inside the red zone.

Both of these areas are obviously ones that the team wants to improve.

In looking at the four Chiefs' losses this season, which are only by a combined 21 points, the difference in most of these games is a little more success inside an opponents' 20-yard line.

So, if nothing else, the Chiefs can help get back in the win column on Sunday against the Bills by grabbing touchdowns more often than field goals once they get within striking distance.

It sounds simple and there's obviously more to it, but red zone efficiency—along with turnover differential and third-down conversions—are the three most important stats in the game.

The Bills' offense has been great this year inside the red zone—scoring touchdowns 61.5 percent of the time, which ties them for fifth-best in the league. The Chiefs rank 30th at 44.8 percent.

  1. Will Darrelle Revis get on the field?

Finally, the last storyline to watch in this one is whether or not veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis, who signed with the team earlier this week, will find his way onto the field.

Revis, who Reid called one of the "all-time great cornerbacks" hasn't played in an NFL game in 329 days, and that game, coincidentally enough when he was with the New York Jets, was against the Bills. He had an interception that he returned for 51 yards in that game.

"We're going to just see where he's at," Reid said this week of Revis potentially playing on Sunday. "He'll get out and move around a little bit, just see where he's at. I told him the same thing, which there's no hurry. He's a veteran guy, looks like he's in good shape.

"We're not going to rush him into anything until he's ready to go."

Reid went on to say that he expects that Revis ultimately starts for the Chiefs whenever he's ready, the question now is whether or not that means Sunday.

Revis, however, seems excited to put on the red jersey and be on the home side at Arrowhead Stadium. He was a visiting player with the New England Patriots when the Chiefs broke the Guinness World Record for loudest the outdoor stadium a few seasons ago.

"The fans are great here," Revis said. "It's a football community. I'm excited to actually be a part of it now. It's going to be awesome." 

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