It's doubtful that many people circled this Bills game on this season's Chiefs schedule. Buffalo plays in a different division, does not feature an NFL superstar, and is not exactly a flashy franchise.
But, Sunday's game looms as a possibly critical test. The Bills are one of two teams that are currently tied with KC in the AFC Wild card race.
Since the Colts, Chiefs and Bills trail Pittsburgh by one game in the wild card, the Chiefs do not want to be down a tie-breaker with Buffalo.
Under new coach Rex Ryan, the Bills have improved on offense, while holding their own on defense.
Buffalo ranks 11th in scoring defense, giving up 23 points per game. Offensively, they're 6th in scoring, with a 25.7 points per game average.
Like the city they represent (have you ever seen Buffalo in the dead of winter?), there's nothing glamorous about this Bills offense. Under 5th year quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Bills are not a dangerous passing team, ranking 29th in passing yards, but feature one of the league's best running games.
LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams combine for 135 rushing yards a game, and when you add in 35 rushing yards per game from the quarterback, you can see why the Bills rank second in yards rushing.
When the Bills do pass, Taylor's favorite target has been Charles Clay. The 6-3, 255-pound tight end has caught 40 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns.
Taylor also has four wide receivers, who have combined for 90 receptions- good for close to 1,100 yards and eight TDs.
Defensively, Buffalo is middle of the road in yards surrendered, but Coach Ryan has them playing great in the red zone, which has led to an 11th ranking in scoring defense. The Bills give up 23 points a game. That's three spots behind KC, which gives up 19.8 points per contest.
Buffalo is coming in off a loss at New England. While that was to be expected (after all, the Pats are undefeated, and have been known to cheat a bit), it is certain to have lit a fire under Coach Ryan. There are few more passionate NFL head coaches.
The Bills are catching a red-hot Chiefs team that has not played a true home game in over a month.
KC is riding a four-game winning streak, having won games in KC, London, Denver and San Diego. This follows that awful five-game losing streak.
Whether it's the easier competition or better play, the Chiefs have really upper their game. After giving up 28 points per game during their losing skid, KC has held their opponents to just 9.8 points per contest during this winning streak.
If, back in August, KC fans had known that their offense would be built around running backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware (Spencer Ware?), almost everyone would not have given the Chiefs much of a chance to win at San Diego, but that's exactly what happened. With Jamaal Charles out for the season and West out for the second half, the running load fell on the shoulders of 2nd year free agent Ware. He ripped off 92 yards on just 11 carries, as the Chiefs blew out the Chargers in the second half. The LSU alum might need to come up big again this Sunday, as West's leg injury could become a problem.
Alex Smith had an excellent day against the Chargers, going 20-25 for 253 yards through the air, and running for 33 yards on seven carries. Five of Smith's completions went for more than 20 yards. He has now gone 253 passes without an interception- a new Chiefs record.
KC's offensive line has not been perfect over the past month, but they have become a lot more consistent. Coach Andy Reid's decision to replace some more athletic linemen- in favor of some tougher guys has paid off.
Of course, all the positives won't mean much if the Chiefs lose to the Bills and Raiders. At 5-5, the Chiefs don't have much margin for error.
Sunday's game kicks off at noon. You can see it on your home for Chiefs football, KCTV5.
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