Football is full of axioms and classic quotes. If you have been following the NFL for a while, you are undoubtedly familiar with several of them. “You play to win the game.” “Defense wins championships.” You might have also heard that games are “won on the trenches.” The last one may be cliché, but it could turn out to be important in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills lost 23-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener. But looking back, it seems like an outlier, as they have gone on to win three consecutive games dominantly. They shut down the Miami Dolphins in Week 4. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are dead-last in a tight AFC West for the first time in a while. If Kansas City wants to avoid falling behind in the division, they will need to dominate the line of scrimmage.
Things are looking up for Kansas City’s offensive line
Last season, Buffalo’s inability to pressure Patrick Mahomes cost them the chance to advance to the Super Bowl. Thus, Bills general manager Brandon Beane made upgrading their pass rush a priority this offseason and drafted Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham. Their impact has been noticeable. They are currently sixth in the league with 12 sacks and have allowed a league-low 595 yards.
Moreover, the Bills’ defense has allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the league and ranks at the top in rushing touchdowns surrendered. This isn’t the same team Kansas City faced in the AFC Championship last season. It will be significantly more difficult to beat them this time around.
The Chiefs’ offensive line will have their work cut out for them. They had an encouraging performance against the Philadelphia Eagles and paved the way for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to tote the rock 30 times for 200 yards and a touchdown. Even though the unit is still gelling and working out the kinks in pass protection, they surrendered just one sack. Hindsight is 20/20, but revamping the offensive line in the offseason was one of the best decisions the front office made.
It will be difficult for the Chiefs to register 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games. Still, if the offensive line can consistently open up running lanes and keep Mahomes’ jersey as clean as possible, they should have no trouble scoring 30 points or more for the third consecutive week.
But they won’t be as easy on defense
By now, you might have heard that the Chiefs’ defense has struggled to stop opposing offenses from moving the ball and putting points on the board. They couldn’t stop Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert when it mattered in Week 4 and rank near the league’s cellar in both yards and points allowed.
On the positive side, the Bills’ offensive line is a work in progress. They were without starting right guard Jon Feliciano, who suffered a concussion, in Week 4. Also, Daryl Williams moved to the inside, and Spencer Brown started at right tackle. The returns of the changes were positive, as Buffalo went on to rack up 199 rushing yards and allowed only one sack.
Listen, just as a rookie in his first start, there’s still a lot of work there. And that growth mindset is important that he takes that into this week and builds on last week’s performance. That being said, I thought he showed poise, I thought he showed physical and mental toughness. I thought he gave us a little boost there on some of the runs that we were trying to get.
The Bills match up favorably on offense. That’s why Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo needs to look for any matchup he can exploit. Attacking Brown, who is the most inexperienced member of Buffalo’s offensive line, should be a priority.
The Chiefs still have plenty of talent on their roster, but the Bills are the better team. As long as Mahomes is the quarterback and Andy Reid is the head coach, Kansas City has a chance. But if they want to win in Week 5, they will have to control the line of scrimmage.