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Buffalo Take Five

Posted Sep 10, 2011

Five to watch in the Chiefs season opener against Buffalo

Last year’s Chiefs vs. Bills matchup featured a division leader hosting a winless challenger. It took a late-game interception, an iced kicker and a field goal in the final seconds of overtime for the Chiefs to emerge victorious.

It was a game both teams remember heading into this year’s season opener.

Buffalo is coming off a 1-3 preseason; the Chiefs off a 0-4 exhibition slate. Preseason play is over. Kickoff weekend is here. Let’s take five.

Buffalo Take Five

1) Success of 2010

The Chiefs blueprint for a division championship was relatively simple last season. Offensively, that plan revolved around running the football and taking care of the football. An effective run game set up the play-action pass and forced many opponents to choose between stacking the box or playing single coverage on Dwayne Bowe.

Kansas City’s 164.2 rushing yards per game and Matt Cassel’s 27/7 touchdown to interception ratio was a perfect pairing.

During preseason play, the Chiefs run game left plenty to be desired. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones combined to average less than 3.0 yards per carry in exhibition play and Kansas City’s rushing attack didn’t produce a single touchdown. Cassel did his part by keeping the football out of the opposition’s hands, but the backup quarterbacks turned in a TD/INT ratio of 3/3.

Rushing the football is the Chiefs offensive identity. Protecting the ball preserves wins.

2) Fumble Issues

Todd Haley blamed it on a lack of contact periods during training camp, but vowed to devote practice time towards ball security following last week’s preseason finale in Green Bay. Three times the Chiefs coughed up the football in the Packers’ red zone during the 20-19 loss.

Fumbles were an issue all preseason with the Chiefs putting the football on the ground 10 times. Last year, the Chiefs only fumbled 15 times to post the NFL’s fifth-lowest total.

Two red zone fumbles in Green Bay saw Charles give himself a harsh preseason evaluation, but the real season has yet to begin. He fumbled only three times last season and has lost the football just seven times in 487 career rushing attempts.

3) Stopping the Run

In the Chiefs 10 wins last season, opponents rushed for an average of 85.4 yards per contest. In Kansas City’s six losses last year, foes churned out an average of 151.7 rushing yards per game.

When the Chiefs stop the run, they’re successful. If not, the results haven’t been desirable.

Though Buffalo didn’t rush the football particularly well in 2010, they did manage to post 137 rushing yards against the Chiefs - it was the third-most of any opponent the Chiefs beat last season. Buffalo’s goal is to stop Kansas City’s run game and the Chiefs defense should have that same objective.

The Bills, by the way, were the league’s 32nd ranked rushing defense last season. Buffalo hopes the addition of DT Marcel Dareus and LB Nick Barnett help improve that ranking.

4) The Chan-Chan Man

Former Chiefs offensive coordinator turned Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey will be calling the plays from the opposing sideline Sunday afternoon. With versatile players lining Buffalo’s skill positions and Gailey at the helm, there will be more than one occasion where the Chiefs defense see’s something that it didn’t prepare for in practice this week.

Week One game plans are always subject to offer some sneak up. It works both ways. With the Bills, and especially do-it-all man Brad Smith, fundamentally sound football becomes even more important.

Expect to see the Wildcat formation, some spread sets and, who knows, maybe even a  single-wing reverse wildcat pass to Tyler Thigpen (probably not Thigpen, but couldn’t resist linking to that video).

5) The Arrowhead Advantage

When it came to winning the AFC West last season, the Chiefs never played from behind. Wins at Arrowhead came early and often as the Chiefs rallied off seven consecutive home victories before finally suffering defeat at Arrowhead only when the division was already wrapped up.

The Chiefs led the AFC West last season from Week One to Week 17. Never did the team dip below .500 and never were they facing an uphill climb to stay in contention.

With away games each of the next two weeks, it’s not a good time to be digging out of a hole. The Arrowhead Advantage needs to return in 2011, beginning this weekend.

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