In a matchup featuring two of the league’s most dominant defenses, the 5-3 Buffalo Bills host the 5-3 Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Week 10 clash figures to be a critical point for both teams, with the AFC Wild Card and division races heating up in the final push of the regular season.
Up-and-down the key statistics, the Bills and Chiefs own two of the most balanced defenses in the league. Fielding the NFL’s No. 1 secondary, the Chiefs are also third in sacks (27) and second in points allowed per game (17.3). Buffalo is No. 8 against the run, having allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season (second only to K.C.’s zero rushing scores allowed), lead the NFL with 12 interceptions and are second with 28 sacks.
Which defense breaks first, or at all, will make the difference as each side faces similar hurdles in their division races.
The Bills have won two straight and three of their last four, but sit two games back of New England in second place in the AFC East. With their rival playing so well, the Bills best chance of snapping their 15-year postseason drought will likely come via the Wild Card. Buffalo must also keep the Dolphins at bay, and needs to play better at home. The Bills have lost at home twice already this season by an average of nearly two touchdowns, and are two-point underdogs ahead of Sunday's game.
K.C. is in a similar postseason position in the AFC West, though it sits one game behind first-place Denver and is only one loss better than San Diego.
With each side boasting such incredible defenses, the game could be decided by one major play, and all told the Chiefs currently have more playmakers than the Bills.
The Chiefs have scored 30 or more points in three games, and possess a duo of stellar running backs in Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. They’ve combined for 845 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, making up for a Chiefs wide receiving corps that hasn’t caught a single touchdown all season.
Chiefs second-year tight end Travis Kelce has caught four touchdowns this season and leads the team with 32 catches for 419 yards, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of production from No. 1 receiver Dwayne Bowe or AJ Jenkins. Though a lack of threats hasn’t forced quarterback Alex Smith to break his stride. Smith’s racked up a solid 67.7 completion percentage with 11 touchdowns to only four interceptions, three of which came in the first game of the season.
The Bills have an equally risk averse quarterback in Kyle Orton, who’s tossed nine touchdowns to three picks since taking over starting duties in Week 5. From the get go, Orton led Buffalo past another top defense in Detroit, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 308 yards and a touchdown. And with each start Orton’s looked even sharper, launching four touchdowns last week against the Jets woeful secondary in the 43-23 victory.
Orton’s steady presence has also helped the development of Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, who’s recorded two straight 100-plus receiving yard games and scored three touchdowns. Since Orton took over, Watkins has snagged 21 receptions for 393 yards and three of his five touchdowns on the season. There was a scare earlier on Wednesday when Watkins left practice prematurely with a groin injury, but the injury was later ruled to be minor and he's expected to play against the Chiefs.
Watkins has also seen an uptick in his production since running back C.J. Spiller went down against Detroit with a shoulder injury, and veteran Fred Jackson suffered a groin injury in Week 7 against Minnesota. Spiller has yet to pinpoint a date for his return, but Jackson returned to practice Wednesday and wants to take the field against K.C.
Start Time: Sunday, 1 PM ET
TV Channel: CBS
Betting Odds: Kansas City -2
Over/Under: 42 points
Prediction: Bills over Chiefs, 27-20