Every week, we here at Arrowhead Addict break down the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup of the week and predict five things the team will have to do in order to win. Once the game is over, we take a look at the Five Keys and see how well the team did. Welcome to Five Keys to Victory Follow Up.
Another week in the NFL is done and the Kansas City Chiefs are still undefeated. It was closer than many would have hoped, but nonetheless, the Chiefs haven’t lost a game as they head into their bye week. The Chiefs will have two weeks to prepare for the Denver Broncos, who are next on their schedule and after this week against the Buffalo Bills, the bye couldn’t have come at a better time. Without further ado, let’s see how the Chiefs did with our Five Keys to Victory. As always, my original comments are in normal type and my follow up comments are in bold.
Key #1: Control The Thundering Herd Rushing Attack
The Bills are currently the seventh best rushing team in the NFL. Relying primarily on the legs of Fred Jackson as C.J. Spiller has been injured and ineffective, the Bills are averaging 133 yards per game on the ground this season. The Chiefs defense, as good as they are, has struggled against the run at times this season. Though a really good rushing game from the Eagles have skewed the numbers a bit, the Chiefs are ranked 24th in the league, allowing 103 YPG on the ground. In order to survive this match up, the big men up front will have to buckle down and not allow Jackson, Spiller or whoever else the Bills throw into the mix to break free.
Not only did the Chiefs defense not stop the Bills rushing attack, they allowed them to rack up 241 yards on the ground, the second highest amount allowed all season behind the Philadelphia Eagles in week three. The defensive line was porous all day, allowing the combination of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to gash them for 193 yards alone, including a 61 yard scamper by Spiller in the third quarter. While Denver isn’t known for its running game, the Chiefs will have to improve this over their bye week if they hope to stand a chance against the Broncos.
Key #1: NOT Achieved
Key #2: Tune Out the Crowd
Though Addicts (including me) have proven that once again Arrowhead is the loudest stadium in the world and one of the most difficult to visit, don’t discount the fans in Buffalo. Bills’ fans are passionate and love their team just as much as any fan base. Just because they are 2-5 doesn’t mean anything. Bills fans have had a couple of things to cheer about this year, and I wouldn’t count out more fans showing up for this game just because the hometown Bills have the opportunity to knock off the undefeated Chiefs. The offense will need to minimize mistakes and get in and out of the huddle quickly to avoid any penalties.
Though the Chiefs committed five penalties on the day for a total of 38 yards, only one of them could be attributed to the raucous Buffalo crowd – a false start by left tackle Branden Albert. On the day, the Chiefs were much improved here, not allowing the crowd to get into their head and playing smart football.
Key #2: Achieved
Key #3: Let the Air Out
Where the Chiefs have the 24th rushing defense in the league, the Bills have the 24th passing defense in the league. While this may not mean much considering the Bills are playing the Chiefs and not the Green Bay Packers or the Denver Broncos, this could open up the opportunity for the Chiefs to air the ball out a bit. Nothing like playing to the level of your competition.
Yeah…about that. The Chiefs offense left a lot on the field on Sunday. Alex Smith only threw for 124 yards with a 65 percent completion percentage and was unable to find the end zone for the fourth time in the last five games. Granted not all of the non-big plays were Smith’s fault. There were two huge drops by Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster that would have gone for big yards, and likely touchdowns that Smith was perfect on. That all being said, if the Chiefs hope to keep pace with their next seven opponents (all who have potent passing offenses) they’re going to have to get better during the bye week.
Key #3: NOT Achieved
Key #4: Keep Smith on his Feet
The Chiefs defense is known this season for its wicked pass rush and quarterback sacks. However, the Bills have an elite pass rusher of their own. Mario Williams is quietly having an all pro season. He is tied with the Chiefs own Justin Houston at 11 sacks on the season. This could be a long afternoon for rookie right tackle Eric Fisher if he can’t settle down quickly and keep Williams out of the Chiefs backfield.
The Chiefs offensive line has been anything but impressive this season as they continue to find a way to gel and work together as a unit instead of five individuals. However, against the second highest sacking defense (behind their own) the Chiefs line did pretty well, only allowing two sacks against Smith. What’s better (trying to make a positive out of a negative here) is that even though one of those sacks resulted in a rare Alex Smith fumble, rookie right tackle Eric Fisher made a great heads up play and covered the ball, thus maintaining the Chiefs excellent turnover ratio.
Key #4: Achieved
Key #5: Touchdowns, Touchdowns, Touchdowns
The Chiefs absolutely have to score touchdowns. Ryan Succop is a hell of a kicker in a pinch, but he should remain on the sideline unless an extra point is required. This is the last live game the Chiefs will have before travelling to Denver under the lights to meet the Broncos in two weeks. The Chiefs have to get into the end zone today. They need to set up camp there early and come back to visit often. This could be a blow out by the end of the first half.
As slow-starting and non-aggressive as this Chiefs offense has been, Sunday’s game against the Bills was the first time all season the offense failed to find the end zone. Their entire offensive production (all 210 yards of it) produced only three field goals. This kind of non-production can’t continue into the next seven games.
Key #5: NOT Achieved
Even after all is said and done and the Chiefs only managed to achieve two of the five keys to victory this week, they still managed to find a way to win. Though the best quarterback hunting, sacking defense was unable to sniff out the undrafted rookie free agent, Jeff Tuel, the rest of the “D” did its job and created turnovers and turned them into points all by themselves.
This is what championship football teams do. They don’t worry about the opponents they’re supposed to beat or the ones they’re not. They just find ways to win football games, no matter what the stats say.