Weather forecast: 39 degrees, partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain or snow
Line: Chiefs -3.5, Over/Under: 40
The Chiefs are 5-3 ATS.
The Chiefs are 3-0 ATS away.
The Chiefs are 4-3 ATS as the favorite.
The Chiefs are 2-0 ATS as an away favorite.
The Bills are 5-3 ATS.
The Bills are 4-0 ATS at home.
The Bills are 5-3 ATS as the underdog.
The Bills are 4-0 ATS as a home underdog.
The Chiefs trip to Buffalo is only their fourth road game of the season, and comes after a three-game home stand where they pushed their record to 8-0. In their winning efforts on the road against Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Tennessee, the Chiefs followed a similar script. They held leads entering the fourth quarter and then added points in the final period and won by 26, 10 and nine points. Those late performances were built on their defense. They'll need the same type of afternoon against the Bills if they expect to win game No. 9.
The Bills will be severely handicapped if QB Thad Lewis can't play, which is amazing in and of itself given that Lewis has played only four NFL games, three with the Bills. If Lewis' ribs don't heal, Jeff Tuel or Matt Flynn will start, and the package of plays that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett can call will likely be more streamlined, especially if it's Flynn.
As well as the Chiefs rush the passer (league-high 36 sacks), the Bills will try to rely on their ground game, and the key to that will be to not fall behind early. The Bills had this issue last week against New Orleans and abandoned the run game in the second half.
Defensively, the Bills will have to find a way to cope with Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, who's having a great year. He's a dual threat as a runner and receiver, and the Bills have not been good at limiting big plays or stopping teams on third down. They have allowed 22 runs of at least 10 yards, and 27 passes of at least 20 yards, and their third-down rate is 38.8.
"I'm telling you that there's room to improve and I take that to heart. Those aren't empty words that I'm throwing at you. We have a ton of room to improve in all three phases. You have to make sure you go out to practice with that in mind. You get better at what you're doing then you get better at what you're not doing well and you make sure you keep improving." -- Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
"We're excited, I know it sounds crazy. People are going to go, 'What the hell is going on with this guy?' We've got a lot of work to do, we're going to get back, we're in the third quarter of our season. Kansas City is coming in to town, they're undefeated, we have a white out going on so the fans will be all pumped up. We've got to win this quarter and right now we're focused on beating Kansas City. I'm ready to go." -- Coach Doug Marrone on the excitement of starting the second half of the season despite a 3-5 record.
ESPN Game Preview:
As the Kansas City Chiefs keep their strong start in perspective, the Buffalo Bills hope to turn things around by knocking off the NFL's only undefeated team.
The visiting Chiefs look go 9-0 for the first time in 10 years when they try to end their recent struggles against the Bills on Sunday.
The first team in league history to start 8-0 after owning the worst record the previous season -- 2-14 -- Kansas City hasn't won its first nine games since 2003. That year, it matched the franchise record of 13 wins before losing 38-31 to Indianapolis in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Though confident, this year's team won't read too much into its place in history.
"We've always been humble," safety Eric Berry said. "We're going to keep working because we know how hard these wins are to come by. We don't take these for granted."
Since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 15 teams have won their first eight games. Nine made the Super Bowl and eight won. These Chiefs, however, would rather focus on the present and let the future take care of itself.
"We love what's going on around here as far as winning," linebacker Tamba Hali said. "None of us have been in this position where this team is 8-0. To keep winning, to go 1-0 every week, I think we have a sense of urgency to keep getting wins."
Kansas City has won largely because of a defense that allows a league-low 12.3 points per game and has recorded an NFL-high 36 sacks -- nine more than Buffalo (3-5), which is second. The 98 points the Chiefs have yielded are the second fewest in team history through the first half of a non-strike affected season since the league went to 16 games in 1978.
Kansas City matched its season high for points allowed in a 23-17 victory over Cleveland last Sunday. It was Kansas City's third game and second in as many weeks to be decided six or fewer points.
"We're not trying to be the beauty queens. A win is a win," receiver Dexter McCluster said. "We know we're going to have to fight. This is the NFL."
The Chiefs expect to be seriously challenged by a Bills team that's won five of the last six meetings and both in the last two seasons by a combined 76-24. Buffalo, though, has dropped three of four and is dealing with a host of injuries as it tries to continue that dominance in the series.
One of the biggest injury issues is Thad Lewis' sore ribs, which could keep the QB on the sideline.
He was injured on the first play from scrimmage last week and is listed as doubtful. If Lewis is unable to play, the Bills will start either undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel or the recently signed Matt Flynn. Bills coach Doug Marrone said he would wait to decide who will start in that scenario but said Tuel received more reps at practice Friday.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel (knee) remains out and running back C.J. Spiller (ankle) could miss a second straight game. Receiver Stevie Johnson is dealing with a hip flexor but is hopeful he can go Sunday.
Running back Fred Jackson is dealing with a nagging injury but expects to play.
"(Injuries) can happen to any team," Johnson said.
"It probably is happening to every other team, but we're talking about it now and we've got to just get over it. There's nothing we can really control. We're out there and playing football and this is what happens when you play in this league."
Johnson had seven receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 35-17 loss at New Orleans, and he's scored a TD in three straight against the Chiefs.
Despite the health issues and a defense that ranks 25th with 26.6 points per allowed game, the Bills are excited to get their crack at the team with the best record in the NFL.
"Guys are still confident," said Jackson, who has rushed for 331 yards and averaged 4.8 per carry in four games against Kansas City. "We've got a good opponent coming in this weekend that gives us an opportunity to go out and win against a team that's 8-0, give them the first loss of the season and try and build on that."
The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles ran for 376 yards and averaged 7.2 per carry in his previous three games against the Bills before being held to three yards on six attempts during a 35-17 loss at Buffalo last Sept. 16.
Charles, who averages a league-high 127.3 yards from scrimmage and is second with 635 rushing yards, expects to play despite leaving briefly last week to be treated for a bruised knee.
"It's a long season and I'll get banged up every week," he said.