By Matt Citak
The Kansas City Chiefs enter Week 12 looking to break their recent cold streak. Kansas City sported one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses through the first five weeks of the season, averaging 32.8 points while winning all five games. But in the month and a half since, Kansas City has struggled to find the end zone. The Chiefs are averaging just 17.6 points per game in their last five contests, and saw their record drop from 5-0 to 6-4. Even with their midseason struggles, Kansas City still ranks seventh in points per game (26.2), sixth in total yards per game (370.9), 10th in passing yards per game (252.5) and 10th in rushing yards per game (118.4).
Kansas City is coming off an embarrassing 12-9 loss to the New York Giants last week. Alex Smith completed 27-of-40 passes, but for a mere 230 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Despite Smith’s recent play being called into question, the veteran quarterback comes in at sixth in the NFL with 2,674 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, while ranking second in completion percentage (69.4 percent) and passer rating (107.6). Smith has done a great job of taking care of the ball this season, as his 18:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio is one of the best in the league.
On the other side of the field, the Buffalo Bills are facing their own struggles of late. Buffalo surprised the league by beginning the season 5-2, but three consecutive losses have pushed the Bills to the outside of the playoff picture looking in. First-year head coach Sean McDermott made headlines last week when he benched veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman. However that experiment did not last long, as Peterman put together one of the worst quarterback debuts in NFL history. The rookie completed just six-of-14 pass attempts for 66 yards, zero touchdowns, and a whopping five interceptions… all in the first half. Taylor came in for the second half and threw for 158 yards and a touchdown, adding 38 yards and an additional touchdown on the ground.
Taylor has looked solid this season, which made his benching last week even more surprising. The dual-threat quarterback has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,842 yards, 11 touchdowns, and three interceptions for a passer rating of 91.4, while carrying the ball 57 times for 275 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and three rushing touchdowns. After delaying the decision for several days, McDermott announced on Wednesday that Buffalo would be going back to Taylor as the team’s starting quarterback.
NFL ON CBS analyst Trent Green weighed in on this week’s Bills-Chiefs matchup, which he will be calling alongside play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel and sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl, as well as other upcoming NFL ON CBS action in Week 12.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs – 1:00 PM ET Sunday – CBS
CBS Local Sports: After starting the season 5-0, Kansas City has lost four of their last five games, while topping 20 points only twice. How can Andy Reid and Alex Smith get the offense back on track against the Bills?
Trent Green: They need to focus on running the ball. Kareem Hunt needs to get more involved. They’ve done a good job getting Travis Kelce the ball in recent weeks, but they need to try to find some balance with the offense. That balance consists of getting Kareem Hunt involved more. Kansas City also needs to get better play out of the offensive line. That, in turn, will help the running game. But it’s important that they get Kareem Hunt more involved this week.
CBS Local Sports: Did Sean McDermott make a mistake putting Nathan Peterman in at quarterback last week, and how should the Bills approach the starting QB position for the remainder of the season?
Trent Green: Did he make a mistake? No, because he’s the head coach and he gets to decide what he wants to do with his team and the direction he wants to go in. He thought the best thing for his team was to put Nathan Peterman in last week. Unfortunately for Peterman and the Bills, it didn’t work out. But now that he’s made the decision to go back to Tyrod Taylor, he will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season, unless something happens from an injury standpoint. Considering they are right on the verge of being in the playoffs as the seventh seed, it’s going to be Tyrod Taylor.
CBS Local Sports: Both of these teams could seriously use a win this week, but which club is more desperate to come out of Week 12 with a victory in order to help their postseason chances?
Trent Green: They’re both desperate at this point in time. Buffalo started 5-2 and have lost three in a row to get to 5-5. Kansas City started off 5-0 and have gone 1-4 in their last five games. The one game they did win was against Denver, where they were fortunate to come away with the win. Denver had five turnovers in that game. Buffalo is probably more desperate in that if they keep losing, they’re falling further and further out of the Wild Card position. Kansas City has a two-game lead over Oakland and Los Angeles right now, so they have a little bit more of a cushion. But anytime you’ve only won one of five games, you’re going to be desperate. Both teams are going to be pretty desperate for a win come Sunday.
New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams – 4:25 PM ET Sunday – CBS
CBS Local Sports: Which of these two high-powered offenses has been more impressive this season?
Trent Green: The Rams, just because you have a new, first-time head coach in Sean McVay with a second-year quarterback in Jared Goff and a revamped offensive line. The Rams’ offense has impressed me the most. What New Orleans has been able to do has also been very impressive. They have traditionally had Drew Brees throw the ball 50 times or more a game. This year, the Saints are relying on the run game and their defense. They’ve done a nice job of reshaping the way they have attacked things. But between the two teams, the first-year head coach playing with a second-year quarterback has been more impressive.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.