by Mario "Game" Granata
When there is a matchup between 2 teams that both have winning records, usually the point spread tends to favor the home team. But with the uncertainty of the Buffalo Bills, and their new winning formula, the individuals in Vegas still aren’t believers yet, as the Bills are 1.5 point underdogs against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. A closer look at the numbers should give fans an indication why that is the case.
Kyle Orton – While Orton’s play has been stellar, there are still question marks out about him and if he is truly a starter in today’s NFL. He and EJ Manuel have played 4 games this season, yet Orton was without Chris Williams, the free agent signing from St. Louis, and when Williams not in the lineup, the Bills have had the rotation of Cyril Richardson and Kraig Urbik during his time under center. The true difference between Orton and Manuel has been finishing drives as Orton has led the Bills to 18 scoring drives, and 11 of those have been for touchdowns. Manuel has led the Bills to 17 scoring drives, and only 7 of those have been touchdowns. In short, Orton gets the ball in the endzone, which will be key, as he will more than likely have to throw to score against the Chiefs, as Kansas City hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown the entire season.
Turnovers – Since the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs are evenly matched defensively, the game could come down to turnovers. Last year a 99-yard interception return ultimately did the Bills in with Jeff Tuel at the helm, and currently the Buffalo Bills are +7 in the turnover battle over the first 8 games. The Chiefs are -2, but have a very efficient quarterback in Alex Smith. It seems cliché to say, but the Bills have to get more chances for the offense, against a stingy Kansas City defense who are tops in the league.
Special Teams – In CJ Spiller’s absence, the Bills kickoff return is hovering around the 10-yard mark. The Chiefs, with the explosive Knile Davis are averaging 28-yards per return, and when that type of production is factored into the game, it makes the field position battle slanted in favor of Kansas City. In a tightly contested match-up, the Bills will have to be more productive on special teams if they are to be victorious Sunday.
X-Factor – The Buffalo Bills are currently 4-0 against teams that run primarily a 4-3 defensive front. If you are doing the math, that makes them 1-3 against teams who run a 3-4 with their only victory against the Jets. Kansas City, under Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton runs a 3-4 defense. Sutton spent some time under Eric Mangini and later under Rex Ryan, so he is able to mix and match both fronts to confuse teams, and keep them guessing. The Bills are #1 in the league in sacks, with Kansas City #2, so if the Bills can’t figure out a way to defeat Sutton, and keep Orton upright, it could mean a long game for the Bills, and ultimately their fans.