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NFL Preview - Kansas City (8-0) at Buffalo (3-5)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - Uneasy is the head that wears the undefeated crown.

Though they're the NFL's last team without a loss, the Kansas City Chiefs have endured more than an unbeaten team's share of doubt amid their best season- starting run in a decade.

In fact, a good deal of expert analysis about the Chiefs concedes the fact that they haven't lost a game yet, but follows up with a contention that their opposition has been less than elite.

That won't change this week when they visit the 3-5 Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon, but don't expect wide receiver Dexter McCluster to lose a lot of sleep about it.

"We're not trying to be the beauty queens. A win is a win," he said, after catching seven balls for 67 yards and a touchdown in a six-point defeat of the three-win Cleveland Browns last week. "We know we're going to have to fight. This is the NFL."

In the Bills, the resistance may be dictated as much by health as talent.

Buffalo has won five of its last six games with the Chiefs and routed them, 35-17, in Kansas City last season, but the hosts enter Week 9 this year with a plethora of injuries, including yet another to the latest in a series of starting quarterbacks.

Practice squad reclamation project Thaddeus Lewis was dinged up in last week's loss to New Orleans and was held out of Wednesday's practice with sore ribs while understudies Jeff Tuel and Matt Flynn shared the first-team reps.

Coach Doug Marrone labeled Lewis as "50-50" for Sunday, which, if he's unable to go, means either Tuel or Flynn would become the third QB to start a game this season. Rookie E.J. Manuel is likely out for a few more weeks after injuring a knee in Week 6 at Cleveland, and Lewis was plucked from his deep reserve status after Tuel failed to impress in the final stages of that 37-24 loss.

Lewis was 1-2 in his initial three starts with the Bills, losing to Cincinnati in overtime and beating Miami before an 18-point defeat at New Orleans last week in which he completed 22-of-39 passes for 234 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Also at less than full health are running back C.J. Spiller, questionable with an ankle injury after missing last week; and wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who's questionable with a hip problem, though he caught seven passes for 72 yards from Lewis against the Saints.

Running back Fred Jackson caught two passes and ran 15 times last week, and is also questionable with a knee injury, but he expects to suit up.

"It probably is happening to every other team, but we're talking about it now and we've got to just get over it," he said. "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."

Neither the injuries nor the fact that they're closer to the bottom of the league than the top in scoring defense -- 25th among 32 teams, allowing 26.6 points per game -- have tempered Buffalo optimism.

"Guys are still confident," Jackson said. "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."

Kansas City started 9-0 in 2003 en route to 13 wins and this year became the first team in league history to start 8-0 after compiling the league's worst record -- 2-14 -- a season prior.

Ironically, while the Bills would surely trade record, it's the Chiefs who are playing modest.

"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."

Nine of the 15 teams to sweep the first eight games of a 16-game schedule have ultimately reached the Super Bowl, and all but one -- the 16-0 New England Patriots -- has won it.

Nonetheless, the gaudy expectations remain a non-factor, according to Tamba Hali. Instead, it's a determination to keep building on what's been accomplished.

"We love what's going on around here as far as winning," 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, we have a sense of urgency to keep getting wins."

Hali and his colleagues have helped Kansas City to league-leading status in scoring defense (12.3 points per game) and sacks (36). Not to mention, the 98 points surrendered thus far are second-fewest in Chiefs history for the first half of a 16-game season.

Cleveland matched Kansas City's most prolific foe by posting 17 points last week, but the Chiefs won a close one for the third straight week -- all decided by six points or fewer.

On offense, running back Jamaal Charles is probable with a knee injury after rushing for 74 yards and catching five passes for 46 yards against the Browns.

He leads the league with an average of 127.3 yards from scrimmage and is second with 635 rush yards.

"It's a long season," Charles said, "and I'll get banged up every week."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Pursue the Weak Impala.

Even at full strength, Buffalo's Lewis is still a practice squad refugee facing an unbeaten team in his fifth NFL start. With the hits he's taken over the last several weeks, even that level has been compromised. Expect him to be harassed mightily by a Kansas City defense that's been particularly stingy and especially aggressive through eight games.

Variety is the Spice.

The Bills are 25th in scoring defense, 26th in total yards allowed, 24th in passing yardage and 26th in rushing yardage. Given those numbers, expect Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to attack with equal parts Charles, McCluster and Bowe while seeing what combination yields the best results.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Bills are a popular pick thanks to their competitiveness in three of five losses and the lingering skepticism about the quality of the teams that the Chiefs have beaten.

It's a logical argument, but it's also offset by the fact that -- regardless of who they've played -- this week's visitors simply have more healthy talent available to them. It may be close, but it won't be an upset.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Chiefs 24, Bills 17

10/31 13:27:39 ET

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Final
NCCU 21
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Final
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UNC 90
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TULA 6
 
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DUKE 70
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4:00pm Today
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4:00pm Today
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6:00pm Tonight
MIA
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NYK 91
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CLE 93
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MIN 101
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UTA 94
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6:00pm Tonight
MIA
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6:00pm Tonight
MEM
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6:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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9:30pm Tonight
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OSU 42
IND 27
Final
OKLA 44
KU 7
 
Final
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NEB 24
MINN 28
 
Final
PURD 14
NW 38
 
Final
ILL 16
PSU 14
Final
MSU 45
RUTG 3
Final
UCF 53
SMU 7
 
Final
SCAR 37
SALABAMA 12
Final
WKENT 45
TXSANANTO 7
 
Final
WAKE 6
VT 3
 
Final
ODU 30
LATU 27
Final
ARST 52
WASU 31
 
Final
CMICH 20
WMICH 32
 
Final
COLST 58
NMU 20
Final
LALAF 16
APPST 35
Final
BST 45
EMICH 30
Final
HOU 38
TULSA 28
Final
UTAH 10
ARZ 42
 
Final
FSU 20
BC 17
Final
UNT 17
FIU 14
 
Final
CLEM 28
GASTATE 0
 
Final
ND 28
LOU 31
 
Final
MICH 16
MD 23
 
Final
ARK 30
MISS 0
 
Final
PITT 30
SYR 7
 
Final
ISU 31
TTU 34
 
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
IOWA 24
WISC 26
 
Final
MEM 31
SFLA 20
 
Final
CAL 17
STAN 38
 
Final
NMST 17
LAMON 30
 
Final
ALA 48
WCAR 14
 
Final
OREG 44
COL 10
Final
MTST 35
FATL 34
 
Final
UVA 30
MIAMI 13
 
Final
AUB 31
SAMF 7
Final
TENN 21
MIZZ 29
 
Final
BAY 49
OKST 28
 
Final
MSST 51
VANDY 0
 
Final
UCONN 0
CIN 41
Final
UCLA 38
USC 20
 
Final
WYO 14
BSU 63
 
4th
NEV 20
FRES 40
 
Final
WASH 37
ORST 13
 
4th
HAW 31
UNLV 35
 
Final
PRIN 68
INCWORD 79
 
Final
UMASS 68
ND 81
Final
GEOR 80
RMU 66
 
Final
LAS 59
PETE 50
Final
VT 63
APP 65
 
Final
IUPUI 71
BST 69
Final
WMICH 91
DRAK 75
 
Final
RICH 80
HIGH 56
 
Final
MSST 71
UTST 63
Final
CAMP 48
COL 54
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
NIOWA 66
UNF 49
 
Final
CSNO 79
SAMF 72
 
Final
YALE 61
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
NEV 50
CLEM 59
Final
PROV 80
FSU 54
 
Final
MARQ 89
NEOM 97
Final
DET 66
SALA 53
 
Final
TXSA 80
TXST 67
 
Final
CHIST 75
TRINCHRIS 52
 
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UMO 63
LIB 52
 
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CAN 53
 
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SAV 87
CLST 83
 
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NW 68
ELON 67
 
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MDES 53
 
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SEMIZ 74
 
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WSCO 60
 
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YOUNG 82
LONG 72
 
Final
MTST 66
SOUTH 48
 
Final
ARKLR 73
UMKC 68
Final
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DUQ 102
 
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LSU 72
 
Final
BUT 80
GHND 39
 
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CSFU 70
SJST 66
 
Final
WOFF 72
SD 68
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TXSOU 66
 
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TOWS 63
 
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YALE 53
 
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ALCOR 80
 
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MAN 78
BING 63
 
Final
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MILES 71
 
Final
CSOU 79
WRST 86
 
Final
CITA 81
BOBJONES 50
 
Final
INDST 78
BRO 66
 
Final
WYO 56
COL 33
 
Final
GSOUT 97
FCCOL 41
 
Final
CCAR 76
PIEDINT 33
 
Final
LATU 63
AMER 44
 
Final
MAR 62
ARMY 76
 
Final
TENT 69
CHAT 67
Final
EKENT 115
CLERMONT 50
 
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SMU 77
EWASH 68
Final
NIAG 62
HART 65
 
Final
PENN 77
LAF 83
 
Final
UCSB 91
MASTERS 45
 
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BUCK 69
MNTER 73
 
Final
VMI 93
UNCW 110
 
Final
RIU 66
NEB 62
Final
NKENTUCKY 98
OHMWSTRN 48
 
Final
GTDNS 73
QUIN 76
 
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EMICH 70
UNCG 62
Final
ETST 98
UNCA 87
 
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TEMPL 50
UNLV 57
 
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STJOE 68
VERM 60
 
Final
MON 65
CCST 50
 
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KSU 78
ILLCH 60
 
Final
FAIR 60
SHSU 74
Final
LIP 74
TRANSYLVAN 63
 
Final
FUR 55
UCD 58
 
Final
WKENT 63
BEL 64
 
Final
NDST 74
HAMP 66
 
Final
IND 85
LAM 72
 
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TTU 80
MIZST 68
 
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HOU 72
MRGST 57
 
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NAVY 44
NE 68
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ALAAM 81
OAKW 61
 
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WILL 60
SELA 57
 
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TULA 89
SONO 45
 
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TXPA 82
A 77
 
Final
RICE 65
WMARY 69
 
Final
TXARL 87
HOUB 69
 
Final
MINN 69
UMBC 51
 
Final
UTEP 77
NMST 76
 
Final
GONZ 109
STTHOM 55
Final
SUTAH 75
WLVRN 85
 
Final
PBY 49
MORE 69
 
Final
DUKE 70
STAN 59
Final
WISC 78
BSU 54
Final
PORT 75
SIUE 53
9:30am Today
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VALPO
 
11:30am Today
GMAS
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12:00pm Today
FSU
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12:00pm Today
SHSU
WOFF
 
12:00pm Today
UNCG
YOUNG
 
12:30pm Today
CMICH
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1:00pm Today
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1:30pm Today
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1:30pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
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2:30pm Today
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2:30pm Today
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3:00pm Today
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3:00pm Today
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3:00pm Today
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3:30pm Today
KSU
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4:00pm Today
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4:00pm Today
NCSU
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4:00pm Today
UCR
STKAT
 
4:05pm Today
HC
NICHOLSCOL
 
4:30pm Today
BC
DAY
 
4:30pm Today
MON
TOWS
 
4:30pm Today
SAMF
UMKC
 
4:30pm Today
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5:00pm Tonight
CIN
EILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
UGA
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5:00pm Tonight
BRAD
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5:00pm Tonight
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5:00pm Tonight
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Terriers
 
5:30pm Tonight
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6:00pm Tonight
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IONA
 
6:00pm Tonight
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6:00pm Tonight
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MLOWELL
 
6:00pm Tonight
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6:30pm Tonight
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6:30pm Tonight
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UCONN
 
7:00pm Tonight
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7:00pm Tonight
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HOOD
 
7:00pm Tonight
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SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
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TENST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NE
MAN
 
8:00pm Tonight
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8:00pm Tonight
MISS
NARZ
 
8:00pm Tonight
WASH
PAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
SDCHR
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAR
MIAMI
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
ODU
 
9:00pm Tonight
GAELS
UCI
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
OTT 2
STL 3
Final
WAS 1
BUF 2
 
Final
PHI 4
CLB 2
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
 
Final
BOS 0
MON 2
 
Final
NYI 4
PIT 1
 
Final
NAS 3
FLA 2
Final
DAL 5
LOS 4
Final
COL 4
CAR 3
Final
EDM 1
CHI 7
 
Final
CAL 5
NJD 4
 
Final
SJS 3
ARI 4
 
4:30pm Today
WIN
STL
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
ARI
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
 
1:00pm Today
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CIN
1:00pm Today
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CLE
1:00pm Today
NEP
DET
1:00pm Today
MIN
GBP
1:00pm Today
IND
JAC
1:00pm Today
CHI
TAM
1:00pm Today
PHI
TEN
4:05pm Today
SEA
ARI
4:05pm Today
SDC
STL
4:25pm Today
DEN
MIA
4:25pm Today
SFX
WAS
8:30pm Tonight
NYG
DAL
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14