Arrowhead Stadium has not been a very hospitable place for visiting teams over the years, but last season the Buffalo Bills looked more comfortable playing on the road in Arrowhead than the Chiefs did as the host.
The Bills made their trip to Kansas City look rather convincing, defeating the Chiefs 54-31 on Nov. 28, 2008. Behind five Kansas City turnovers and four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) from Trent Edwards, the Bills scored the most points against Kansas City than any other team in the NFL ever has, breaking the previous high of 51 by Seattle in 1983.
Since firing Dick Jauron and promoting defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to interim head coach, the Bills has lost two of their past three games. In losses to the Jaguars and Jets, the Bills have combined for 28 points, failing to score more than 15 points in both defeats. Buffalo’s latest loss came against the Jets, 19-13, in Toronto last Thursday. The loss marks the eighth time this season the Bills have failed to score more than 17 points in a game.
The loss against the Jets came in familiar fashion; it was a night game in prime time and in typical Buffalo fashion, the Bills were within striking distance entering the fourth quarter. And yes, in typical Buffalo fashion, they failed to get the job done in the fourth quarter. In the last 15 minutes of games this season, the Bills were either led, tied or trailed by no more than six points in seven of their eight losses. Here’s the breakdown of the Bills’ statuses entering the 4th quarter:
o New England – led by 7
o New Orleans – trailed by 3
o Miami – trailed by 28
o Cleveland – tied at 3
o Houston – led by 1
o Tennessee – tied at 17
o Jacksonville – led by 5
o NY Jets – trailed by 6
Thus, the current predicament the Bills find themselves in. Realization has firmly set in, and that realization if you’re curious and haven’t already pieced the puzzle together, is that the Bills are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. That would put them in a dubious category with the Detroit Lions for the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
The tale of the tape in this ‘misery loves company bowl’ is neither team is particularly good in all facets of the game. The Bills have a good pass defense, but still have a firm grasp as the NFL’s worst rushing defense, giving up 172.1 rushing yards per game. Buffalo was dominated by the Jets, who played more physical and even though the Bills fell by only six points, the score doesn’t reflect the Jets’ dominance. The Bills have endured season long troubles staying on the field and sustaining drives. That problem was evident again last Thursday when the Bills converted just 1 of 11 on third down, while the Jets had possession for nearly 11 more minutes than the Bills.
Kansas City has had more than their share of problems. The Chiefs (3-9) have the NFL’s 30th ranked offense, boasting 265.6 yards per game. They are 29th in the league in yards per rushing attempt (3.7) and 30th in scoring defense giving up just over 27 points per game. In their last two losses to AFC West rivals San Diego and Denver, Kansas City has surrendered a combined 87 points.
Kansas City’s big offseason acquisition, quarterback Matt Cassel, has had a tough go of things in his first full season as a starter. Cassel was benched last Sunday in the midst of a 44-13 loss to Denver, completing 10 of 29 passes for 84 yards and two interceptions. Cassel hasn’t been allotted much time in the pocket this season, getting sacked 27 times in 12 games this season. The $28 million dollar man has a passer rating of 72.3, ranking him 26th in the NFL among quarterbacks.
As we address the big pink elephant in the room, this is probably shaping up to be the Bills’ last game left on their remaining schedule they could win. The Bills still must contend with New England next week. Two days after the Christmas holiday they’ll have to travel to Atlanta and the season finale they’ll get what could be an undefeated Indianapolis team aiming for perfection. Against Kansas City, a team that stands at 3-9, if the Bills don’t get win No. 5 here, there’s a good chance they’ll be stuck on four wins.
Final Prediction: Buffalo 27, Kansas City 26. As I previously stated, the Bills quite possibly could be looking at their final, winnable game during the last quarter stretch this season. Whatever momentum the Chiefs gathered since their shocking home upset win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime two weeks has all but up and vanished. The Chiefs have given up 43 and 44 points to San Diego and Denver the past two weeks. This could be an opportune spot for the Bills offense to gain confidence going into a difficult three week stretch to close out their season.