What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object?
Sunday’s important AFC clash between the Buffalo Bills (5-5), on a three-game losing streak, and the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4), losers of four of their last five games, features two teams hoping to regain their early-season form after suffering through horrific slumps on defense and offense, respectively.
Buffalo’s 5-2 start to the 2017 season gave the impression this was a team on the rise, especially on defense, as first-year defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s unit led the league in turnover differential (+14) through Week 8 and sat comfortably in the race for an AFC Wild Card berth.
Fast forward to now, and the Bills once-stout defense has turned into a porous sieve as Buffalo has been outscored 135-55 during losses to the New York Jets (34-21), the New Orleans Saints (47-10), and the Los Angeles Chargers (54-24).
That is the most points allowed by a Buffalo team over a three-game stretch in franchise history, and it is tied for the fourth-most points allowed by any team over a three-game span since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger.
Buffalo has allowed the most points per game (32.67) and second-most yards per game (407.3) in the NFL since Week 5.
The Bills have been unable to generate any sort of pass rush, while the opponents have run wild to the tune of 638 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns... over the last three losses alone.
Kansas City (6-4) raced out to a 5-0 start, including an impressive 42-27 Week 1 throttling of the New England Patriots, behind a high-flying offense that had been clicking on all cylinders. In winning their first five games, the Chiefs led the NFL in scoring offense (30.2 points per game), while amassing the second-most yards per game.
Much like Buffalo, the Chiefs have been on a steady decline offensively since Week 6, ranking 22nd in scoring offense (18.2 points/game) and 21st in yards per game (327.6).
Something has to give Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Fans of the Buffalo Bills can only hope Frazier and first-year head coach Sean McDermott can dial it up a notch on defense and get the defense back to its early-season form. Otherwise, a Chiefs offense loaded with talent (quarterback Alex Smith, running back Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce) could find the perfect remedy for their struggles: facing the Bills’ defense.
"It's a very good offense we're going to face this coming Sunday, but I think we have the guys in the room to get it done," Frazier told the media Monday. "Myself and the coaches, we've got to put together a good plan and let the guys go out and execute that plan. We've done it before; we've just got to figure out how do we get back to doing the things we were doing so well for a period of time."
If Buffalo can right the ship defensively, a win at Arrowhead would move the Bills above .500 and back in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race. A fourth-straight loss, with two games still remaining against the New England Patriots, would most likely signal an 18th consecutive season missing the playoffs for Buffalo, the longest current stretch of any of the four major American professional sports leagues.