It was a cold and wet Sunday for a potential playoff-deciding football game. Raining and 35 degrees at kickoff, it was a recipe for a ground-n-pound running battle. While there was certainly a good bit of running, the day was surprisingly pass-happy.
Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills had success in the air and got big chunk plays. The Chiefs got five plays on the day that went for more than 30 yards. Four were pass plays. To the Chiefs dismay, the Bills had five plays go over 20 yards and were all passes. All told, the quarterbacks threw for five touchdowns, nearly 450 yards and a combined passer rating of 109.5.
It was a tough start for the Chiefs’ defense, but they were able to adapt. The good news for the defense was that despite throwing for 291 yards on the day, they were able to clamp down on Tyrod Taylor with some halftime adjustments. Taylor only threw for 55 yards in the second half. The Bills offense, as a whole, only gained 119 yards in the second half on Sunday. That was a performance the Chiefs needed against another playoff contender. Their resolve kept them heading in the right direction and gaining momentum.
Scratch off the biggest threat
The Bills were the best team the Chiefs will face for the remainder of the season. With identical records coming in, Kansas City now has the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker. Moreover, the Chiefs hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers as well. The ball is rolling for this team now.
As the final stretch of the season comes down, there are a few obstacles the Chiefs need to pay attention to. The entire AFC West won Sunday. The Oakland Raiders, in particular, are still in the playoff hunt (very surprising to have to write that) and could be starting to surge themselves.
Andy Reid has to be very careful to keep the team’s pedal down this coming week against Oakland. Even San Diego found a little bit of rhythm on Sunday. It was enough to get a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even after that shellacking Kansas City gave them in San Diego, the Chargers will be looking to play spoiler in Arrowhead.
Next Man Up (again)
The offensive line hit the roughest game of the season physically. Injuries against the Bills started with Jeff Allen going down in the second quarter as Spencer Ware scored on a 3-yard run. He was followed by Eric Fisher in the same quarter and later by Mitch Morse in the third. That is a hefty toll on the unit.
With starting left guard Ben Grubbs already out, the Allen injury forced second-year lineman Zach Fulton into the lineup. A starter at right guard in 2014, Fulton was able to step in at left guard and play solidly. Fulton ended the day playing center after Allen was able to return.
Fisher went out on a play that was routine until the very last second. Fisher dips his head as he makes contact with the Bills defender who is chasing Alex Smith. The hit spun fisher around and he awkwardly sat down right in the middle of the field. Though the team has stated it’s a neck issue, Fisher’s reaction doesn’t look good and any concussion could keep him out for the Raiders week.
He was replaced by a solid Donald Stephenson, but fisher was the biggest loss of the day on the offensive line. Here’s the play:
Morse went out on the deep pass to Chris Conley that nearly scored. Morse has a concussion and could miss the Oakland game. Morse’s departure created an interesting shift of personnel. Fulton slid into the middle and Allen pushed through his injury to come back into the game at left guard. Fulton settled in on the next drive and played well. Expect him to play at center this week unless Morse can clear the concussion protocol. There is one question answered.
In fact, having watched the film, I like Fulton at center better than at guard. He grounds out gains in the run game and only gave up one pressure on Smith. He proved Reid’s philosophy of valuing linemen that have position-flexibility. It paid off on Sunday and allowed the offense to roll on without missing a beat. That will need to continue as the Chiefs are precariously thin on the offensive line. they need to keep this momentum rolling.
Enjoy the week, Addicts.
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