At one point this season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 5-0 and the consensus best team in the National Football League. The Buffalo Bills were 5-2 and considered a potential threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC East.
Oh, what a difference a few weeks make.
The Chiefs have since lost four of five games and the Bills have more recently lost three in a row, and you might say the two teams had equally disastrous Week 11 matchups.
The Chiefs looked as bad as they have all year in a 12-9 loss to the then-one-win New York Giants, while Bills head coach Sean McDermott made the regrettable decision of benching Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman, who threw five interceptions in one half of football. The Chargers defeated the Bills, 54-24.
Taylor has since been reinserted as the starter, with McDermott calling it “the right thing for our team.”
As McDermott faced the media heat, so too did Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who started the week by telling the local Kansas City writers all of the Chiefs’ problems “can be fixed.”
Two days later, the Chiefs signed seven-team Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“You’re talking about one of the all-time great players at that position,” Reid said. “It’s just a matter of getting him back into the swing of things and seeing where he’s at. He’s excited to be here and we’re excited to have him here. I would think his role would be to step in and be a starter. That’s how I would like it.”
Reid hopes Revis finally solidifies the right cornerback spot opposite Marcus Peters, which has been a merry-go-round between Terrance Mitchell, Kenneth Acker and Phillip Gaines since the beginning of the season.
Not one member of the trio has looked a definitive answer.
“Brett Veach is always looking to upgrade, which is great,” Reid added. “He and his guys did this—they deserve the credit on it. So they worked it out with Darrelle and his people, and I thought they did a nice job getting him here.”
The Chiefs have yet to confirm if Revis will play against the Bills Sunday, but things seem to be trending in that direction.
If he does, it won’t be against the best the Bills have to offer as far as wide receivers go. Kelvin Benjamin, who the Bills traded for at the deadline, was downgraded to out on Saturday and did not travel to Kansas City.
Running back LeSean McCoy, one of the league’s best, did.
McCoy had 13 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown in the Bills’ loss last week.
“We did some good things on Sunday,” McCoy said, via BuffaloBills.com. “Guys blocked well, the running backs read the holes well. We prepared hard and knew we could get some lanes in there. It was the ability to make guys miss on the perimeter. That’s kind of how we run the ball.”
The Chiefs have been among the worst in the league at stopping the run this season, so expect McCoy to offer another tough challenge in that regard.
To beat the Bills, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and the offense will look to get back to that early-season form.
“I think this team is ready to get back to work and get back on track,” he said. “That’s where I am at. I think this team realizes we can’t talk our way out of this.
“You just have to go do it and that is the only remedy. I think we are anxious to do that. We know we are capable of playing a lot better than we have and looking forward to going out there and doing that.”
Albert Wilson’s potential return could only help that effort. Wilson, who hasn’t played since Week 8, is officially listed as questionable.
“He and I have a lot of reps together, a lot of history,” Smith said. “Any time you have that trust there, it is nice to have it on the field. He is a big playmaker for us. Optimistic that, as the week goes on, things will continue to look good.”
Whether it is by the addition of Revis or Wilson or by a complete shift in game planning, the Chiefs, just like the Bills, desperately need a victory.
An AFC West division that at one time seemed all but over is suddenly very interesting thanks to the mid-season resurgence of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Wilson, defensive end Allen Bailey (knee) and linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) are all questionable. LB Dee Ford (back) and linebacker Terrance Smith (concussion) have been ruled out.
Five keys to the game
1) Handle LeSean McCoy. The Chiefs’ defensive game plan has to be focused on stopping McCoy this week. With Benjamin out, he is without a doubt the Bills’ number one playmaker. Take away McCoy and make WRs Zay Jones and Deonte Thompson beat you.
2) Contain Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod Taylor won’t always beat you with his arm—that we know—but he can ruin a defense’s game with his legs. When he does rush (57 times for 275 yards this year), he picks up an average of 4.8 yards a carry.
3) Get Kareem Hunt involved early. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a game in which the Chiefs offense gets the rookie going early, because when Hunt is going early, it opens up everything else.
4) Reggie Ragland revenge. He’s been getting more playing time recently as the Chiefs’ ease back on Derrick Johnson, and this is a matchup against the team that traded him away. Look for Ragland to have a big game against his former club.
5) Please, play Revis. Revis at whatever percent ready is better than what we’ve watched the past few weeks.