Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-9)
Sunday, November 23, 2008, 1PM EST - Arrowhead Stadium
After 4 straight losses, the Bills look to finally rebound and return to the win column. On paper, facing a 1-9 squad seems like the perfect medicine, but we all know how that can work out. The Chiefs have been playing better behind Tyler Thigpen and are always tough in Arrowhead. Here's how we can leave there with a win:
Keep running it: If Turk Schonert didn't learn from the Browns game that Marshawn Lynch needs the ball more than the 15 times he was getting it per game, then he'll never learn. The Chiefs are 31st in the NFL against the rush giving up over 165 yards per game, and have allowed 16 rushing TD's thus far. Simply put, they stink. Please, keep it simple and take advantage of this! Continue using Fred Jackson as the #1a RB, especially if motivates Lynch to run harder and hit the holes, like Jaws was thinking Monday.
Find Trent some confidence: Trent Edwards has no confidence, or at least it doesn't look like he has any. Again, Schonert needs to keep it simple and find him ways to pick up some confidence while picking up first downs. Expect (or hope) for some more screens and rollouts this week. And here's a thought......
Don't neglect Lee Evans: As predictable as the playcalling has been and as badly as Edwards has played, there is NO reason that Lee Evans should be going catchless in a game. All three of those guys have to step up. It's no coincedence that our offense looked better in the year when we were looking downfield to Evans. Where that has gone the past few weeks, who knows, but we've got to return to trying to get him the ball downfield. If Edwards is too scared to make the throw, then we have much bigger problems than we'd like to admit. The Chiefs have a couple of rookie CB's in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers who should be ripe for the picking (on).
Stop turning it over: This one is all Trent Edwards. Quit throwing pathetic interceptions man! You aren't even getting pressured on these picks. They are just downright awful throws. The lack of confidence sure seems to be part of this. Even if we don't make the playoffs this year, which is highly likely, it'd be nice if Edwards can rebound and prove he is our guy. Throwing interception after unforced interception is not a good way to convince us!
Pressure Thigpen: The Bills did a good job of pressuring Brady Quinn on Monday night, though it was due to the blitz and Marcus Stroud. That needs to continue Sunday against Thigpen. He's another young guy who you have to make uncomfortable back there. Thigpen has been very good over his last 4 games, averaging 236 yards passing, close to another 30 rushing and 8 TD's compared to just 1 INT. What I wouldn't give for Edwards to have those numbers. The Chiefs have average 22.5 points per game under Thigpen's guidance these past 4 games, while only 12.5 ppg over their first 6 games. I never thought I'd say this, but we need to slow down Tyler Thigpen.
Let Larry Johnson run it: I think I'd rather the Chiefs just hand off to LJ 25 times this weekend. There's no reason to believe our run D won't shut him down, so if the Chiefs keep going to a guy that hasn't been all that good, that's better for our chances. Shutting him down on first and second downs to set up longer second and third downs should really allow us to pin our ears back and get after Thigpen.
Get some turnovers for once: The Bills D has a whopping 5 INT's on the season, which is fewer than teams like the Rams, Bengals and Raiders. Sure, they've done a solid job of limiting total yards for the most part, but there are absolutely no playmakers other than maybe Kawika Mitchell on this defense. Nobody makes a big play, nobody gets a big stop and nobody gets the ball back for our offense. This has been a frustrating element of this season as we heard all preseason how opportunistic the Bills D was planning to be. Well, it hasn't come close to happening and I think the lack of INT's is due to the DB's playing off the ball. INT's happen in tight coverage and with pressure from the DL, but we don't have either. It'd be nice if we can get that to change against KC.
Dominate Special Teams again: If we are going to play so poorly on O and so average on defense, let's at least hope our ST's can continue playing at a high level. Leodis McKelvin has looked so much better over the past 3-4 games and that should continue if he's given the opportunities. Roscoe Parrish finally had a chance against Cleveland and proved how dangerous he remains. The D has to get him more chances by forcing 3 and outs. They've only force eight 3 and outs over the past 5 games, four of which were against the stinky Browns and one was after three kneeldowns by Chad Pennington at the end of the Miami game. They've got to do a better job getting off the field and getting Roscoe some chances.
Show some guts, pride, a sense of urgency: Other than for a small portion fo the Browns game, we have not seen anything from this team that shows they understand how dire of a situation they have put themselves in. It's frustrating that there seems to be no urgency and the team continues to play complacent and conservative. Whether it's the players, the staff or Dick Jauron, we can all blame who we want, but at this point their backs are completely up against the wall. Will they actually come out and dominate a game? Will they actually come out and win a game that they desperately need? Who knows, but if the past few seasons are any indication, we may leave this weekend disappointed yet again. I just want to see a tough, physical approach to this game.
Well, there you have it. Ways to avoid letting the 1-9 Chiefs beat the Bills. There's no reason we should lose to an opponent like this, but there's also no reason to be playing as we have the past month. A loss here would hardly be surprising....