Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship; could you ask for a more exciting offensive battle? The Buffalo Bills travel to Arrowhead stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the final battle for a ticket to Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay on February 7th. Will the Bills walk away with the title or will the Kansas City Chiefs make a second straight Super Bowl appearance?
What We Saw Last Week
Buffalo Bills Offence
This game was severely effected by the wind in Buffalo. At certain points during the game you saw the uprights swaying so much that it looked like they might blow over. The wind certainly effected the throwing accuracy of Josh Allen. We saw him missing pass after pass to his receivers; passes that we have become accustomed to seeing completed over the past month of the season. All in all the game was rather unimpressive from an offensive standpoint.
My biggest takeaway from this game was that even with the weather conditions as bad as they were, we saw Brian Daboll and the Bills offence still trying to push the ball down field through the air instead of utilizing the ground game.
Buffalo started the fourth quarter leading 17-3 with Lamar Jackson already out of the game. The first series of the fourth quarter lasted over five minutes, resulting in a punt to the Ravens 10 yard line. After a failed Baltimore drive, Buffalo got the ball back with 6:36 left on the clock. Instead of running the ball to drain time off the clock, Daboll dialled up a deep pass play from the Ravens 29 yard line looking to score through the air. The result was a ball thrown away through the back of the end zone and stopping the clock.
The play selection on this drive was curious to say the least; realistically, it was just a very poor decision by the Bills OC. Those types of mental errors will not turn out so well this week vs the Chiefs. Daboll must be smarter than that.
- Rushing: 7/3/0
- Interceptions: 0
- Fumble: 1
- Receiving: 8/11/62/0
Kansas City Chiefs Offence
The story of this game was the injury to Patrick Mahomes in the third quarter. With 7:46 left, the Chiefs were driving down the field looking to add to their nine point lead. Kansas City faced a 3rd & 1, on the Browns 48. Mahomes took the snap under centre, and ran to the right trying to pick up the first down. Mack Wilson rushed into the gap and on the tackle had a glancing helmet to helmet collision with the back of Patricks head.
The real concern came as they were both going to the ground, where Wilson had his left arm wrapped around the head of the KC quarterback. As they hit the ground Mahomes head and neck were stretched towards his chest resulting in a “stinger.” When Mahomes stood up his legs were wobbly and looked like shaking jello. His eyes were wide and it was evident that he likely had no clue were he was. He was subsequently removed from the field and eventually ruled out due to NFL concussion protocol.
Henne to The Rescue
Once Mahomes left the game, it was up to the backup quarterback Chad Henne to come in and secure the win for the Chiefs.
Fast forward to the eight minute mark of the fourth quarter. Henne took a deep shot down field to Demarcus Robinson. The pass was badly overthrown and the result of the play was a Browns interception in the end zone. This gave the ball back to Cleveland with plenty of time left on the clock and only trailing by five. The resulting drive would end in a Browns punt and did not hurt the Chiefs.
After the two minute warning is where the do or die situation arose for Henne. The Chiefs were facing a 3rd & 14, from their own 35. Cleveland was gearing up to get the ball back with plenty of time left on the clock for one final drive, with a stop on this play. The Browns only rushed four and Henne had good protection in the pocket. After holding the ball for two seconds he pulled it down and ran to the left. The result was a successful 13 yard scramble leaving them with 4th & 1. Andy Reid decided to line up the offence at the line of scrimmage, for what was expected by everyone with a set of eyes to be an attempt to draw the defence offside and pick up the first down.
With five seconds left on the play clock, Henne snapped the ball and threw a screen right option to Tyreek Hill for five yards and the first down. The Chiefs knelt down with 31 seconds left to end the game and advance to the AFC Championship vs Buffalo.
- Passing: 21/30/255/1
- Rushing: 3/14/1
- Interceptions: 0
- Fumble: 0
- Passing: 6/8/0/1
- Rushing: 2/12/0
- Interceptions: 1
- Fumble: 0
- Receiving: 8/10/110/0
- Rushing: 3/9/0
- Receiving: 8/11/109/1
- Rushing: 13/78/0
- Receiving: 4/4/16/0
Buffalo Bills Defence
Stopping Lamar in his tracks
Buffalo entered this game knowing that they had to find ways to contain number eight for the Baltimore Ravens at all costs. He entered the game leading the league in rushing yards for quarterbacks. The way they did this was playing a lot of zone coverage plays, and ensuring that Jackson was not able to escape the pocket. The front four for Buffalo created havoc in the back field all day long for Baltimore and Lamar Jackson. Buffalo dared Jackson to throw the ball into the prevailing wind and try to beat them through the air, while stuffing the run game as much as possible.
The Pick Six
As miserable as the Ravens offence was on the ground, the passing game was equally as bad. They made a fatal error though the air in the third quarter. With 58 seconds left in the quarter, Baltimore was deep in the red zone on the Bills’ nine yard line. On 3rd & 9 Lamar took the snap from the gun and rifled a pass that was meant for his big tight end, Mark Andrews. Taron Johnson saw Lamar looking at Andrews and sprinted to his left to cross in front of the target and catch the pass. Once the ball was in his hands, he took off towards the Bills sideline. He ran it into the Ravens end zone for a 101 yard pick six, and tying George Teague of the ’93 Packers for the longest pick six in NFL playoff history.
- Passing yards allowed: 222
- Rushing yards allowed: 150
- Sacks: 4
- Interceptions: 1
- Forced Fumbles: 2
- Touchdowns allowed: 0
- Field Goals allowed: 1
Kansas City Chiefs Defence
The Chiefs defence played well last week, but the win came more from one missed penalty call as well as very poor clock management from the Browns.
Helmet to Helmet non call
With 1:42 left in the second quarter, Baker Mayfield lined-up in shotgun formation at Kansas City’s 26 yard line with Rashard Higgins lined up outside right. On the snap, Higgins ran down the field and caught the ball at the Chiefs’ five yard line. After making the catch, he ran towards the right pylon and stretched out his arms towards the goal line. Just as he was about to cross the tip of the ball over the white line, Chiefs free safety Daniel Sorensen launched himself head first directly into the side of Higgins helmet. This caused him to fumble the ball forward through the end zone for a touchback.The fumble cost the Browns a possible seven points, and gave the Chiefs the ball at their own 25 yard line. The result was a field goal to put the Chiefs up 19-3 heading into half time.
(For the official rule click here)
Kevin Stefanski made a few vital errors in both the game planning and clock management within that game. The way to beat KC is winning the time of possession (T.o.P) battle and keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field for as long as possible. Chiefs were expecting a heavy dose of ground and pound last week in the form of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. What they got was a ridiculous amount of passing plays and extremely limited rushing attack. The Browns put the ball into the hands of their best offensive weapon, Nick Chubb, only 13 times, while Kareem Hunt had only six carries. The net yardage for the Browns was a measly 112 yards, and Baker ran for 11 of those. The end result was a T.o.P of 29:23; over one full minute less than the Browns season average of 30:36 per game.
The challenge on the Chiefs in the fourth quarter on a Tyreek Hill catch was ill advised as well. The Chiefs were in no hurry to run another play and the Browns could have waited a couple more seconds to confirm whether or not Hill actually made the catch. After burning a timeout on the challenge, they burned the last two time outs within two minutes of each other. They used their last time out with just over three minutes left in the game after Henne converted a 3rd & 4 for a first down. The Brown’s rookie coach helped the KC defence keep the lead until the end of the game.
The Chiefs won this game, but in all honesty, the Browns bad luck and poor play calling is the real reason Kansas City advanced this week.
- Passing yards allowed: 204
- Rushing yards allowed: 112
- Sacks: 1
- Forced Fumbles: 1
- Touchdowns allowed: 2
- Field Goals allowed: 1
Time of Possession
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills need to find a way to get their running game going. The Browns failed to do so last week and it cost them dearly. If Devin Singletary cannot find room to run, then Josh Allen will need to have a big day with his legs as well as his arm. Time of possession is a key factor in this matchup and whichever team dominates this part of the game will likely win.
The second key to victory for Buffalo will be to ensure that they score points on almost every drive. The Chiefs have proven that no score is too big to come back from. Much like Tom Brady, no lead is ever safe. Josh Allen must find Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley over and over again to keep the chains moving down the field. Kansas City enters the game with the sixth best passing defence in opposition completion percentage. The have held teams to a respectable 62.63% completion rate. Buffalo will have to maximize each of those completions and get the ball into the end zone. Josh Allen is one of the most accurate passers in the NFL this year and is more than capable of scoring on the Chiefs defence.
The Bills are preparing for Patrick Mahomes to play and will likely scheme to run a lot of cover 2, with safety help towards Tyreek Hill. The Bills secondary has been extremely stingy this last month as well. Over the past three games they have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just under 60% of their passes. This week will have to be the same story; Mahomes cannot be allowed to find his receivers on a consistent basis.
Buffalo will need to mix in several blitz packages along with a zone coverage scheme in order to pressure Patrick Mahomes into throwing the ball earlier than intended. When they do blitz, it will be up to the linebackers to swarm Travis Kelce and keep him from moving the sticks for KC.
If they can accomplish this, then it should be a rough day for the Kansas City Chiefs offence, and give the Bills offence a real chance to outscore their opponents on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs Key to Victory
Patrick Mahomes told reporters Friday afternoon that he has officially cleared concussion protocol. This is exactly what Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs expected, but none the less, extremely welcomed news.
Now that the QB scare is over, KC can concentrate on finding ways to get the ball into the hands of their two best playmakers, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs must find ways to get the ball down field and keep the chains moving. As many points as KC is able to put up, Buffalo is equally up to the task. In a pure shootout the two quarterbacks are on even footing and the game could swing either way. Mahomes will have to score early and often and rely on his defence to keep them in the lead.
Ground and Pound
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is expected to play Sunday and the Chiefs will rely on him to gain valuable yardage on the ground. Buffalo is weakest up the middle and has allowed opposing running backs to average over 120 yards/game on the ground. If CEH and Darrel Williams can keep the clock running, and give KC the edge in T.o.P, they will be in excellent position to win the game.
Tyron Mathieu and the Kansas City secondary need to blanket #14 for the Bills all day. Like the Bills will try to do to Patrick Mahomes, you should expect a lot of zone coverage and complex blitz packages. KC will have to get pressure on Allen and keep him from extending plays by scrambling to his right. Given time, Allen will pick any defence apart. If the Chiefs can force bad throws out of the young Bills quarterback and get him off his game, they will put the offence is excellent position to send the Bills back to Buffalo with their dreams of a Super Bowl appearance crushed like a bug.
This game is going to be close, and is by no means a lock for either team. The favourite in this game is clearly Kansas City, and it would be hard for me to argue that logic. KC are the reigning SB champs and show no signs of slowing down.
Buffalo comes into the week as the underdog. The Bills have proven that they belong in this game, and have one of the hottest studs under centre leading them into Arrowhead Sunday evening.
I am not sure how much Mahomes’ injuries will limit his performance this week, but I do believe that there will be some lingering effects. Buffalo enters this game with a healthy quarterback who is full of confidence and ready to lead the Bills to the grand finale for the first time since the Jim Kelly era.
I will take the underdog in a close one this week.
Bills win 28-24.
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