I really like the 24-hour rule that pros and coaches have: don’t celebrate or dwell on a game for longer than 24 hours. My dwelling on the season opener ended Monday afternoon. It was painful, but I’m over it, and am now focused on the Bills like a hungry diner staring at a plate full of ribs.
I mean the Chiefs. I mean the Bills. I mean the Chiefs.
As it turns out, the Bills are the Chiefs’ doppleganger, and this Sunday’s game will be like playing against ourselves while looking in a mirror. To wit:
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Cassel are twins separated at birth. Both run hot and cold. Both have even been called “Jekyll and Hyde” by various members of the local and national press. In Week 1, Fitzpatrick went 18-32 for 195 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. But check this out:
- First half: 80 yards, two interceptions, 38.9 passer rating
- Second half: 115 yards, three touchdowns
Now who does that remind you of? Cassel could do no wrong in the first half of the Falcons game. The second half was the return of Mr. Hyde, including that woeful cross-field interception. I would still take Cassel over Fitzpatrick any day of the week, but the streakiness is real.
Need more evidence?
Let’s look at the rushing attack. Although Fred Jackson injured his knee, C.J. Spiller ran for 169 yards. The Chiefs are also built for the run and ran for 152 yards against the Falcons. Between Jackson/Spiller and Jamaal/Peyton, both teams understand their core strength.
Dominant pass rusher? The Bills are built around new acquisition Mario Williams. We have Tamba Hali of course. Williams, honestly, played like crap last Sunday; Tamba didn’t play at all. Both defenses suffered immeasurably and neither had a go-to #2 rusher to get the job done with any consistency.
On special teams, the young Bills team surrendered a punt return for a touchdown against the Jets. The Chiefs gave up a 77-yard kickoff return because two rookies couldn’t keep their lane.
I could go on and on. In a nutshell, the Chiefs and Bills are way more alike then different. Both have quarterbacks that run hot and cold. Both have defenses with great potential on paper, but get blown out more often than we think they ought to. Both have stellar running games but can’t seem to maintain the complementary passing game needed to win. Both teams have young, and sometimes undisciplined players. And both teams are maddeningly frustrating to diehard fans!
So what do we do about this situation–essentially playing ourselves–on Sunday? Both teams have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both teams will be fired up for redemption. Left to their own devices, the Chiefs and the Bills would probably draw up similar game plans coming into this Sunday’s contest. But in chess, if you continue to mirror your opponent’s exact move, you will get checkmated quickly.
So what will be the new wrinkle, the variation in the plan that creates one victor out of two very similar teams?
It won’t be on offense. For both teams, their best defense is a good offense. That means both the Bills and the Chiefs will try to win the time of possession battle. Against the Falcons, we held the ball for 32 minutes and the Falcons for 28. We need an even greater margin, and nix the turnovers. And both teams will try to keep defenses off balance, in order to create more opportunities for the quarterbacks. Daboll did a great job of playcalling through two quarters against the Falcons. His use of McCluster and Moeaki was superb, and you gotta love seeing Cassel take the occasional medium-length pass every now and again.
It won’t be defense, either. Hali and Mario Williams will have similar games and both units will try to contain, not stop, the opposing offenses.
I think the twist this Sunday may involve special teams play, and more specifically, the return game. Which special teams unit will have the discipline to stay in their lane? Which unit will break one free for a touchdown? With two such evenly matched teams, this game rides on the shoulders of our kickoff and punt units, on both sides of the ball. Javier Arenas, Andy Studebaker, Terrance Copper–this game is all about you!
What’s do you think, Addicts? What will be the unusual variation that puts the Chiefs over the top this week?!!!