This might not be the AFC Championship Game, but it sure does feel like it. The Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night to wrap up the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, and these look like the two best teams in the conference. Kansas City is coming off a dominant win over the Steelers, while Buffalo bludgeoned the Patriots. The Bills already pulled an upset once in Arrowhead this season – can they do it again here?
The Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs last met in Week 5 of this season in a matchup dominated by the Bills and was thought to be a changing of the guard in the AFC. The Chiefs held a 10-7 lead in the second quarter before the Bills outscored the Chiefs 31-14 for the rest of the game to cruise to a 38-20 win.
The four turnovers aided Buffalo they forced and playing turnover-free football themselves. Josh Allen had one of the most efficient outings he’s ever had, completing 15 of 26 passes for 315 yards, three touchdowns, and no turnovers.
Keep your eyes on Josh Allen
The Chiefs have to worry about Josh Allen, the runner when the Kansas City defense is on the field.
This should not be a surprise. When these teams met in October, Allen was Buffalo’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 11 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Brian Daboll got his legs involved early in the game, as the quarterback had three carries for 42 yards and a touchdown on the Bills’ opening possession of the game.
So, how can the Chiefs look to constrain what Allen can do with his legs? Enter rushes, where you look to keep him in the pocket, are one way. Spying him is undoubtedly another. But another approach is to try and overload him from one side and “bait” him into escaping away from that overload look, only to have a defender there ready.
The Bills finished the season ranked fifth in total offense (381.9) and third in scoring (29.4). Quarterback Josh Allen headlines this unit. The Wyoming product finished the year eighth in passing yards (4,407) and seventh in passing touchdowns (36). Allen lit up the Patriots’ defense last week. He went 21-of-25 for 308 yards and five passing touchdowns.
This potent offense also features receiver Stefon Diggs and tight end Dawson Knox. Diggs finished the season ranked in the top 10 in multiple categories. The 2020 First-Team All-Pro was tied for ninth in receptions (103), eighth in receiving yards (1,225), and tied for sixth in touchdowns (10). Knox has developed into one of Allen’s favorite targets. The Ole Miss product has reeled in 49 passes for 587 yards and nine scores.
Chiefs offensive ability to stress defenders
The Bills enter Sunday as the top team in DVOA over at Football Outsiders, while the Chiefs sit in the sixth position. But the strength of the schedule was 0.533 for Kansas and 0.512 for Bills. The offenses Kansas City plays six times during the season from their division have better offenses than Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots. During Super Wild Card Weekend. The Chiefs dropped 42 points and logged 478 total yards of offense. The Steelers had no answer for this high-powered offense. Kansas City converted 8-of-12 third downs and averaged 7.4 yards per play.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a sensational performance in the victory. He went 30-of-39 for 404 yards and five passing touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce led the team with 108 receiving yards on five receptions, including a 48-yard touchdown grab. Receiver Byron Pringle had five catches for 37 yards with two touchdowns. This potent offense will look to have another high-scoring outing.
NFL Divisional Round Pick: Over 54 Points
Two great defenses in DVOA, but when Sunday rolls around, the offenses will show why we talk highly of them. The field shortens with the ability to make big plays (20 yards+). Below-average running offenses should lead to fewer runs and, with that, more time to throw the ball. A very good line when you consider the offenses on both teams.