Keys to the game: Bills @ Chiefs

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Nov. 9, 2014; Orchard Park, NY; Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles out of the pocket against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Nov. 9, 2014; Orchard Park, NY; Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles out of the pocket against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Offensive, defensive and special teams keys for the Kansas City Chiefs (5-5) in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (5-5) starting at 12:05 p.m. CT at Arrowhead Stadium.

OFFENSE

The Chiefs winning streak has been built on the foundation of a balanced offense and that’s something they must continue to do in this Sunday’s game against Buffalo. Over the last four games, Andy Reid’s play calling has been almost exactly 50-50, run to pass, in a league where the average these days on offense seems to be 60-40 in favor of the passing game.

Success has come in moving the ball through the run game, even without Jamaal Charles. That takes the pressure off the club’s passing attack, and allows quarterback Alex Smith to throw fewer and more high percentage passes. Smith has set a club record for consecutive passes without an interception. What’s also improved is pass protection and overall line play.

Buffalo’s defense is loaded up front with the likes of Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus and Jerry Hughes, and then in the secondary with cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Ron Darby. The Bills are a top 10 defense against the run, and they are plus-6 in the turnover ratio.

DEFENSE

There is one major key for the defense against Buffalo – that would be controlling running back LeSean McCoy.

He’s been known as “Shady” Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Since the 2010 season, McCoy leads the NFL in rushing with 6,765 yards. And he’s not just a runner, but also an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Through eight games (he missed two due to injury), McCoy has 828 offensive yards.

The K.C. defense must keep a cap on McCoy and not let him explode into the offensive picture on Sunday. McCoy will get his yards, the Chiefs just need to make sure he doesn’t get extra.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a mobile guy, and he can make positive yardage with his feet. But he also does a good job throwing the ball, completing 68 percent of his passes, with 11 touchdown throws and four interceptions.

The Bills favor their tight end Charles Clay (41 catches, 422 yards, 2 TDs). The Chefs defense has been on an interception spree in recent weeks, and they can push their unit to a winning effort by continuing to take the ball away.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Bills are solid in the kicking game and like the Chiefs they’ve been unimpressive in the return game this season; the club’s longest kick of punt return for Buffalo in 10 games was 28 yards.

Kicker Dan Carpenter (14 of 17 on field goals) and punter Colton Schmidt (47.5-yard average) get the ball up and airborne without too much problem, and their coverage teams are very good; they’ve not allowed a return longer than 49 yards.

The Chiefs will need another big performance from punter Dustin Colquitt and kicker Cairo Santos. They’ve got Leodis McKelvin returning punts and he’s liable to put the ball on the ground at any time.

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Bob Gretz is the senior editor for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @BobGretzcom.

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