Buffalo Bills play their home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, following a tumultuous opening week for the team.
After losing to division rival New York Jets 48-28, wide receiver David Nelson was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the season, while running back Fred Jackson will miss at least three weeks.
Buffalo’s string of bad news only got worse, as defensive tackle Marcell Dareus’ younger brother, Simeon Gilmore was murdered during a burglary in Pelham, Ala., on Sunday.
“In the short period of time we had a conversation, I could tell he’s hurting,” Bills head coach Chan Gailey said to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News.
Dareus returned to practice Thursday, where he was welcomed back warmly by his teammates.
Buffalo (0-1) trounced Kansas City (0-1) in week one of last year’s regular season 41-9, a game that saw Chiefs star safety Eric Berry tear the ACL in his left knee in the first quarter.
Kansas City is coming off a loss to the Atlanta Falcons, 40-24 at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday.
However, the Chiefs will be noticeably better on the defensive side of the ball, as Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali, and star cornerback Brandon Flowers make their return to the lineup.
Hali, who recorded 66 tackles, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2011, makes his season debut, after being issued a one-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Flowers’ return bolsters a secondary that was torched by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, as he threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Kansas City’s head coach Romeo Crennel addressed some parallels in both team’s week one performances.
“They turned the ball over like we did, their defence struggled like ours did, their special teams gave up a big return like ours did, so there are similarities, yes,” Crennel said to the media at Wednesday’s press conference.
A fully capable Chiefs defence may spell problems for the Bills, as they adjust their offence around the aforementioned losses of Jackson and Nelson.
Donald Jones has practiced as Buffalo’s second wide receiver this week, and will feature more prominently in the attack after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass against New York.
After Buffalo’s quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for three first-half interceptions, the Harvard graduate must have a better performance.
Fitzpatrick ended with three touchdowns and 195 yards while completing 18 of his 32 passes.
Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles will prove to be quite a test against a Bills defensive line that struggled to generate pressure in week one.
Charles rushed for 87 yards on 16 carries against the Falcons. The former University of Texas star has overcome an ACL injury suffered in week two of the 2011 season against the Detroit Lions.
C.J. Spiller’s career-best 169 yards on 14 carries in Jackson’s absence led the NFL in week one, and he will get the starting nod over backup running back Tashard Choice.
Spiller filled in for Jackson after he fractured his fibula in a week 11 loss to Miami last season, and started the team’s final six games, averaging 5.2 yards per carry in that period.
Against a Chiefs run defence that will be strengthened by Hali, establishing Spiller’s presence early will be instrumental if the Bills are to move to 1-1.
The game kicks off at 1:00 p.m.