Russo Blog: Bills - Chiefs Preview

September 9, 2011 Updated Sep 9, 2011 at 8:12 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 9, 2011 Updated Sep 9, 2011 at 8:12 PM EDT

Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey said on Wednesday that he expected to win every game this year. He's a confident man, but obviously it was coach speak. How about starting with one.



Sunday's matchup in Kansas City will be a good first test for the Bills.
The Chiefs won the AFC West last year with a 10-6 record.
It will mark the fourth straight season that the Bills have played in Arrowhead Stadium. The team is 2-and-1 in those visits, but would love to get a little revenge after last years 13-10 loss in OT.
So how do the Bills earn a victory in the opener??



1 - Let's all scream it together.. STOP THE RUN!!!!!
Jamal Charles and the Chiefs ranked first in the NFL in rushing last season, pounding out 2,627 yards along the way. 274 of those yards came against the Bills last Halloween on a day that
A) My son was born
and
B) Charles averaged 8 yards a carry, and finished with 22 for 177 yards.
The Bills spent the offseason adding pieces to a defense that ranked 32nd against the run. They got bigger with the addition of Marcel Dareus... that should help. So should the additions of LBs Nick Barnett and Kirk Morrison. Shawne Merriman is known for his pass rushing ability, but showed some underrated play making ability against the run in the Preseason-season. HUGE first test for the Bills revamped defense.



2 - Get to the QB!
Speaking of Merriman. He says he's healthy and ready to go.
I have a direction for him to head... right at Matt Cassel. The Bills sacked the Chiefs QB three times in the loss last year. Cassel suffered a rib injury in the preseason finale against the Packers.
He practiced fully this week, but you know he's not 100 percent.
Go at Cassel, go at him hard. The Bills finished with 14 sacks during the exhibition season. Merriman and Dareus both finished with two. Let's see what they can do in a full game.



So for the defense.. let's review. Stop the run, make them pass, make them pass in a hurry. Chris Kelsay's "go to" quote.



3- Protect Ryan Fitzpatrick
Offensively for the Bills ... the Offensive Line is obviously the biggest concern heading in. After pondering a change over the last couple of weeks of camp.. the Bills will go with Demetrius Bell at LT. Erik Pears gets the start at RT. Pears, a 7 year veteran, has 31 career starts, but only one with the Bills. Protect Fitzpatrick at all costs. We saw plenty of quick throws, and screens during the pre-season. Expect to see several against the Chiefs as the O-Line works to come together in the opener. Oh.. and BTW.. you may want to take note of where Tamba Hali is on the field. The LB had 14.5 sacks for the Chiefs in 2010.



4- Jackson or Spiller??
To me it doesn't matter. Yes Fred has more then earned the right to start, but the Bills didn't spend a first round pick on Spiller to keep him as a backup. Get both involved, keep the Chiefs guessing. KC ranked in the middle of the row against the run. giving up 110 yards a contest in 2010.



5- "Goon Squad"
The Bills traded away Lee Evans for a fourth round pick because they wanted to see some of the young WRs on the team develop. Well here we go. Stevie Johnson is now the teams #1 option. Will he draw double teams? How will he handle them? Johnson had a fantastic year in 2010, now let's see if he can do it with no established threat opposite him. Donald Jones is expected to get the start at the #2. The UFA out of Youngstown State says he's ready to go. We'll see. I'm looking forward to seeing Roscoe Parrish back in action. Parrish dealt with a hamstring injury during the preseason but says he's healthy. Chan Gailey made a point of getting Parrish involved in 2010., before a hand injury cut things short. Parrish was having his most productive season as a professional (33 catches, 2 tds) and is looking forward to building on that this season.
Who steps up?



Normally we have all of OTAs and mini camp to get a feel for a team. The lockout wiped that out. Preseason is preseason, but overall I feel the Bills defensively are two steps ahead of where they were last year.
The unit has to be better against the run.. right?
I think the offense will be a work in progress early. If the Bills can protect Fitz he has shown the ability to be successful in the offense.
Chan Gailey will have his team ready. Bills win 24-21.