The Chiefs have an opportunity this weekend to notch another tiebreaker to their wildcard belt with a win over the Buffalo Bills.
Kansas City has accrued 18 sacks and forced 13 turnovers in the past five weeks, while outscoring opponents 139-30 over the past four weeks. The Bills present some opportunities to enhance those numbers.
Here’s how the Chiefs can accomplish a win:
1. Set the edges
The effectiveness of offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s offense revolves around the run game being successful. LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams provide different skills at the running back position, but they are both the keys the ignite the Bills offensive engine. McCoy is a back with elite speed and can hit the corner with ease. He is a threat in the passing game when properly utilized.
Williams is more effective between the tackles as a power runner. Both backs struggles when defenses immediately set the edge, which forces them to continue to attempt to stretch the ball outside and allows the defense to pursue or forces them back into easier pursuit lanes for the defenders. The Bills ability to run to ball makes their athletic quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor or EJ Manuel more effective on their bootlegs, rollouts and play-action.
2. Beat the pressure
Bills coach Rex Ryan runs the same concepts that his former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton does in Kansas City. The Bills like to give multiple looks and fronts to confuse the offense on where pressure is coming from and force them to incorrectly set protections.
The best way to counter this pressure is to run bootlegs, move the pocket and quick passes based on where the pressure comes from. Teams have been effective in utilizing quick outs, smoke screens, comebacks outside the hashes.
Slants, skinny post and seams have been the most effective over the middle on all out blitzes. Max protection with delayed routes, two tight end sets and multiple blockers in the backfield would be effective moves to slow the Bills attack. The Chiefs have seen many of these concepts throughout their past three seasons during training camp.
3. Rush with caution
Tyrod Taylor is a very athletic quarterback. The former Virginia Tech Hokie shines when he is able to utilize playaction and get outside of the pocket on a bootleg or rollout. The Chiefs will need to take the same approach with Taylor that they did with Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers, and that calls for the defense to stay even with the quarterback and don’t give him a lane to escape from.
The interior must collapse the pocket in Taylor’s face while the outside rushers pin him in the pocket. Once Taylor is outside of the pocket he can pick up the first down very quickly or find a receiver off the scramble drill.
4. Identify the playmakers and keep the head around
Sammy Watkins, Chris Hogan and Charles Clay are the biggest threats to this defense outside of McCoy. Watkins is arguably one of the fastest receivers in the league and excels at the vertical routes, slants, smoke screens and crossing routes. Hogan is at his best on slants, digs, outs and seam routes. Clay is typically utilized off their playaction passes on intermediate crossing routes.
The Chiefs need to account for these players when they are on the field. All three can continually move the chains and create explosive plays if allowed. Taylor will run Watkins and Hogan on vertical routes that are under thrown by about five to seven yards. Both receivers do a good job of coming back for the footballs and create pass interference because the defenders don’t turn their heads around to play the football.
Corners and safeties need to pay close attention to when a receiver is slowing down with single high coverage over top so they can turn their head around and avoid the pass interference calls.
The Chiefs will face a tough opponent on Sunday that is typically in games through the fourth quarter. Kansas City should find success if they can build on the effort of the past four weeks.