Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com’s NFL simulation engine will provide predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including each team’s chance of winning, average score and comprehensive box score.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team’s roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team’s game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2014 NFL season.
In August, a Kansas City-Buffalo Week 10 matchup would not have garnered a second glance. The Chiefs were coming off a disastrous finish to their 2013 campaign, losing six of their last eight games, while the Bills…well, were the Bills, with their last playoff appearance coming in the previous century. In short, the kind of persona non grata game that begins to manifest during the second half of the season.
Yet we’ve arrived at this juncture and the game is anything but irrelevant. The Chiefs have a shot at capturing the AFC West and the Bills are in position for their first winning season in a decade. This conference soiree in upstate New York serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
That the Bills find themselves in such a position is a pigskin miracle. In the past six months, the team has lost All-Pro Jairus Byrd to free agency, reigning Rookie of the Year Kiko Alonso to a season-ending ACL tear and both starting running backs to serious injury. Worse, EJ Manuel’s prospects as a franchise player went up in smoke, struggling to the point of a mid-year benching. In short, far from the calculated recipe for success.
However, Buffalo has bucked convention, mostly off the backs of a stout defense. A tenacious front seven led by Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and reclamation project Jerry Hughes has been a nightmare for opposing offenses, while cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore have provided little breathing room for receivers. Despite the absences of Byrd and Alonso, the Bills are surrendering just 20.6 points per contest, sixth-best in the NFL.
And then there’s the Buffalo offense, helmed by a familiar figure in Kyle Orton. The journeyman arm is more celebrated for his facial hair and Uncle Rico-like appearance rather than his play, but the 31-year-old has been solid in replacement of Manuel. Since taking over the starting reins, Orton is 3-1 under center, tossing nine touchdowns against three picks. His arrival has also spurred the emergence of rookie wideout Sammy Watkins, racking up 393 yards in this span. Although C.J. Spiller is out for the season, Fred Jackson should return this week, giving another viable threat to the Bills’ attack.
Buffalo will need all the firepower it can get against a rejuvenated Kansas City club. Following a stumble out of the gate, the Chiefs have won five of their past six games, including commendable victories over New England and San Diego. This hot streak is largely attributed to the resistance, which is allowing the second-fewest points in the league. All-Pro Eric Berry leads a secondary that is giving up an NFL-low 199.4 passing yards per game, with linebacker Justin Houston and his 12 sacks disrupting any semblance of comfort for adversarial quarterbacks. This is especially needed with unit leader Derrick Johnson on the IR.
Not that the defense has been the sole catalyst for this success. Alex Smith continues to be the epitome of a game manager, owning a lone interception against 10 touchdowns in the past seven outings. With perhaps the league’s best one-two backfield tandem in Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, Smith’s calming presence is exactly what the doctored ordered. Coupled with second-year tight end Travis Kelce turning in a creditable work, this is a Kansas City offense with more spirit than believed.
So who comes out on top in this Buffalo battle? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com NFL simulation engine, the Bills get the win 60.2 percent of the time by an average margin of 23-19. For the rest of this week’s predictions and projections, check below: