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Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Divisional Round preview


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Image Credit: © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

 

Yet another rematch of the Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs. Although these two teams aren’t as familiar with one another as the Bills and Patriots are, there is plenty of recent history in this matchup. Bills Fans remember a sour end to the season last year when the Chiefs toppled the Rumbling Herd 38-24 in the AFC Conference Championship game.

 

On the one hand, the Bills have already gotten their revenge by beating the Chiefs down 38-20 in Kansas City during Week 5. But the heartbreak remains. Winning a regular-season game means nothing once the playoffs are here. It’s always about the next one. 

 

Only now Bills Mafia has the advantage and confidence inside, knowing they can dominate the Chiefs and even disrupt Patrick Mahomes, forcing turnovers. In Week 5, the Bills forced the Chiefs to turn the ball over four times, which tied for their most giveaways all season. With just one multi-interception game in his next 13 starts, Mahomes has since bounced back and even worked his way back into the MVP conversation.

 

Conversely, Mahomes was never tasked with facing another defense as strong as Buffalo’s. The Bills may have actually found some ways to consistently fluster Mahomes, which could carry over into this matchup.

Buffalo Bills Divisional Round game details, where to watch

  • Sunday, January 23, 2022
  • Start time: 6:30 PM ET
  • TV channel - CBS, Paramount+
  • Location - GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

 

MozJPEG USATSI_16933081.jpg

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Matchups to watch

  • Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde vs. Patrick Mahomes

 

Despite throwing a career-high 13 interceptions in 2021, six of them were tipped by a Chiefs player before getting picked off. According to Next Gen Stats, passes thrown by Patrick Mahomes averaged a 2.3 interception probability this season, which was the best mark in the NFL.

 

One of the ways teams have adjusted their coverage is by not blitzing him. Mahomes was blitzed on just 12% of his dropbacks, again the lowest rate in the NFL. 

 

According to Pro Football Reference, the Bills blitzed 157 times in 2021, ranking 15th in total blitzes. We get a clearer picture when looking at their blitz rate, which measures how often a team blitzes per dropback. In this category, the Bills rank 13th, meaning they prefer to blitz fairly frequently. 

 

The good news is, they’re effective. According to PFR, the Bills ranked No. 1 in the NFL in hurry percentage at 15.4%. It’s a full two percentage points ahead of the next-best team. They also had the best QB pressure rate according to PFR. Meanwhile, ESPN’s advanced stats suggest the Bills rank sixth in “team pass rush win rate.”

 

The Bills, as you very well know, excel at creating turnovers, ranking seventh in percentage of drives ending in an offensive turnover. Another, more impressive area of strength is ranking first in the NFL of the percentage of drives ending in a score, where the Bills’ defense allows points on just 28% of opposing possessions. The Detroit Lions ranked dead-last for comparison, allowing opponents to score on a whopping 48.9% of their possessions.

 

To top it all off, the Bills intercept passes on 3.6% of opposing passing attempts, which is the third-best rate in the NFL. 

 

Of course, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are major reasons why. Poyer’s breathtaking interception in the Wild Card game was the most recent example of how quickly he can cover large amounts of grass. He’ll be asked to do much of the same when tasked to cover playmakers such as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. 

 

  • Bills in pass coverage vs. Travis Kelce

 

While the Bills did a good job containing Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in Week 5, holding him to six receptions on ten targets for 57 yards and a touchdown, the three-time All-Pro practically wrecked the game during last year’s Championship game.

 

  • Travis Kelce against Bills during 2021 playoffs - 13 receptions, 118 receiving yards, two touchdowns

 

The Bills have greatly improved after allowing the second-most yards to tight ends a year ago, allowing the fifth-fewest yards in 2021. But Kelce is a unique breed, one of the best in the game. One of the biggest keys to victory is preventing Kelce and Tyreek Hill from doing damage after the catch. This is where the Bills need to improve, missing the 10th-most tackles in the NFL as a team. If they don’t wrap up and bring the Chiefs’ playmakers down on the first attempt, things could get ugly once again.

 

  • Bills run-stoppers vs. Jerick McKinnon

 

Forced to reach into the depths of their running back room with Clyde Edwards-Helaire nursing a shoulder injury, Jerick “Jet” McKinnon stepped up in a big way to help the Chiefs advance to face the Bills. 

 

McKinnon racked up 142 yards from scrimmage on just 18 touches. That type of performance is something of a dream for Bills Fans to think of. McKinnon possesses the road-runner speed and agility that the Bills’ rushing attack lacks. 

 

After such a performance, the Chiefs are expected to lean more on McKinnon going forward, still mixing in CEH if he’s healthy once again. This alone presents a different challenge for the Bills to defend. Usually shading most of their coverage toward Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, McKinnon’s game-breaking speed will force Leslie Frazier’s crew to leave more linebackers and safeties tasked with preventing McKinnon from making one cut and sprinting for 6.

 

McKinnon’s sudden emergence is an unfortunate factor to deal with, but if he’s not accounted for, the Bills could find themselves playing catchup instead of chewing out the clock late in the game. We’d much rather have Mahomes pressing than force Allen into uncompromising situations yet again.

 

MozJPEG USATSI_16933103.jpg

 

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills Divisional Round game prediction

  • This season’s record: Buffalo Bills 11-6 AFC East champions
  • Kansas City Chiefs: 12-5, first place in AFC West

 

You might as well call this an AFC Conference Championship rematch. If one were to ask who the favorites are coming out of the AFC, most would point to the Bills or Chiefs. 

 

While the Bengals still have to face the Titans, the Bills-Chiefs matchup represents the true contenders in the conference. These high expectations make this the playoff game of the week. Whoever wins may very well end up as the eventual AFC representative in the Super Bowl. 

 

They’re high expectations, but there’s been zero indication that this team’s leaders aren’t prepared for it. Look at offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for example. He’s one of the highest-regarded head coaching candidates in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, same exact story. Leslie Frazier is on the shortlist of several organizations looking to hire their next head coach, and he actually has three full years of experience at the helm.

 

But it’s not just the coaches making the calls. The players are more than prepared to take down the Chiefs in the playoffs. Don’t you think Josh Allen will have a chip on his shoulder this time around? Last year we saw the team lose their composure with the game mostly out of hand. One full year later, they won’t make the same mistakes. 

 

Being that they’re the No. 2 seed, compared to Buffalo being No. 3, and with the Chiefs having home-field advantage and 70,000-plus fans at Arrowhead who will be roaring at full capacity, the Vegas oddsmakers have Kansas city favored by 2.5 

 

Win or go home always creates the most suspense, and with their recent history, this game could go either way. The Bills are the hotter team coming into the matchup, but the Chiefs haven’t struggled by any measure as of late either. 

 

Don’t get discouraged if the Chiefs get out to an early two-possession lead. While it’s not what anyone would want, the Bills have proven, they aren’t afraid to sling it all across the yard. Is there anyone else you would trust more when needing a comeback? Not me. I’m handing the keys to Josh Allen and plopping down on the couch with some snacks and beverages.

 

Last week’s 30 point blowout was incredible, but Mahomes isn’t anything close to a rookie. Fans tuning in should expect a very competitive battle down to the final whistle, with the Bills coming out ahead, going 2-0 against the Chiefs dating back to Week 5. 

 

Josh Allen will put up 400-plus total yards, factoring in his ability to perform magic anywhere he goes. The Bills will force three Chiefs turnovers, setting up the Bills to host the Bengals in Buffalo. See you next week!

 

Game prediction: 34-27 Bills victory

 

 

 

 

BillsFans.com - Andrew Buller-Russ 

 

 

Related:

Leaving the Past Behind

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots Wild Card preview

Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets Week 18 game preview

Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 17 game preview

 


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Obviously the betting is going in favor of the Bills as the line has been at 2-2.5 depending on where you look. Vegas is trying to get late money in on Chiefs as a value bet to cover the shortage. I would love to be able to be confident in the Chiefs, but I have watched 17 games of massive inconsistency this year. We have a tendency to let other teams get ahead then chase them. All I can say is if one team gets up by two scores they better keep pouring it on, or they may end up with a loss. This is the reason we are not a number 1 seed. 28 points on cincy in the first half an 3 in the second. Should be a good one

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Arm of Harm

Keys to the game

 

Offensive line

A month ago, I'd pointed to the offensive line as the team's biggest source of weakness. It wasn't run blocking well or pass protecting well. Lack of good offensive line play was dragging down the entire offense. Somewhere along the way, something changed. Putting Bates in the starting lineup definitely helped. Spencer Brown has improved as his rookie season has progressed. (Perhaps someone gave him a bath?) The offensive line has become a source of strength. That's been a tremendous help to the running game, while opening up the passing game.

 

Singletary/Knox

Both players have significantly improved this year. Now that the offensive line is, you know, actually run-blocking, Singletary is giving the team a good running game. While Knox may not be Kelce, he's turned himself into a source of strength and a very good football player.

 

Defensive line

After having battled injuries earlier in his career, Harrison Phillips is now a good, solid football player. It is no longer accurate to point to 1 tech DT as a position of need. Phillips gives you a good player at that exact position. Also on the defensive line you have to like Rousseau. A talented athlete and a good football player. Add in other guys as well, such as Basham, as well as an improved Epenesa, and this defensive line is markedly better than it had been last year.

 

The Chiefs

The Chiefs scored 5 touchdowns in 12 minutes, against a good Steelers defense. Clearly a very explosive offense. It would be a mistake to think of them as a one-dimensional passing offense. Their running game is quite good. So, just when you think you've stopped or slowed down one part of their offense they'll hit you with the other. On defense, the Chiefs will have back some key players who'd been injured for the regular season game against Buffalo. Overall, you're looking at a very good, very worthy opponent.

 

Summary

The Chiefs have the ability to beat anyone in the league. Anyone. But, so do the Bills. The Bills appear to have cleaned up pretty much all their major weaknesses, unless you're worried about the punter. If the Bills can provide the same quality of play this week as they did against the Patriots last week, they should come away with a win.

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Core Four
24 minutes ago, Arm of Harm said:

Defensive line

After having battled injuries earlier in his career, Harrison Phillips is now a good, solid football player. It is no longer accurate to point to 1 tech DT as a position of need. Phillips gives you a good player at that exact position. Also on the defensive line you have to like Rousseau. A talented athlete and a good football player. Add in other guys as well, such as Basham, as well as an improved Epenesa, and this defensive line is markedly better than it had been last year.

 

I'm not sure the 1TDT is no longer a need.  Yes, Harry has stepped up, and that's good; plus timely.  I'd still like to get a big body, monster in that spot.  Unfortunately, with Star's stupid contract being extended by his opt-out last season, that may not happen this offseason.  I'm holding out it does, though.

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Fansince88
9 hours ago, Arm of Harm said:

 

 

Summary

The Chiefs have the ability to beat anyone in the league. Anyone. But, so do the Bills. The Bills appear to have cleaned up pretty much all their major weaknesses, unless you're worried about the punter. If the Bills can provide the same quality of play this week as they did against the Patriots last week, they should come away with a win.

Great post. That said, cant remember who said it but I like calling him the holder better. 

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9 hours ago, Arm of Harm said:

Keys to the game

 

Offensive line

A month ago, I'd pointed to the offensive line as the team's biggest source of weakness. It wasn't run blocking well or pass protecting well. Lack of good offensive line play was dragging down the entire offense. Somewhere along the way, something changed. Putting Bates in the starting lineup definitely helped. Spencer Brown has improved as his rookie season has progressed. (Perhaps someone gave him a bath?) The offensive line has become a source of strength. That's been a tremendous help to the running game, while opening up the passing game.

 

Singletary/Knox

Both players have significantly improved this year. Now that the offensive line is, you know, actually run-blocking, Singletary is giving the team a good running game. While Knox may not be Kelce, he's turned himself into a source of strength and a very good football player.

 

Defensive line

After having battled injuries earlier in his career, Harrison Phillips is now a good, solid football player. It is no longer accurate to point to 1 tech DT as a position of need. Phillips gives you a good player at that exact position. Also on the defensive line you have to like Rousseau. A talented athlete and a good football player. Add in other guys as well, such as Basham, as well as an improved Epenesa, and this defensive line is markedly better than it had been last year.

 

The Chiefs

The Chiefs scored 5 touchdowns in 12 minutes, against a good Steelers defense. Clearly a very explosive offense. It would be a mistake to think of them as a one-dimensional passing offense. Their running game is quite good. So, just when you think you've stopped or slowed down one part of their offense they'll hit you with the other. On defense, the Chiefs will have back some key players who'd been injured for the regular season game against Buffalo. Overall, you're looking at a very good, very worthy opponent.

 

Summary

The Chiefs have the ability to beat anyone in the league. Anyone. But, so do the Bills. The Bills appear to have cleaned up pretty much all their major weaknesses, unless you're worried about the punter. If the Bills can provide the same quality of play this week as they did against the Patriots last week, they should come away with a win.

What is crazy to me is how this staff develops players. The way we groom our talent should be a model that all teams look at and say how the hell are they doing that. Of course, not all teams believe in the process I guess.

 

Last week while I was visiting Patriots Planet, one guy said to me something along the lines of, 'I hope you guys enjoy paying Josh a boatload of money because he is going to cost you players at other positions.' Yes, Josh will be making a boatload of money but his cap hits are structured so that if we need cash, we can rework it to so and I think Josh will accommodate that. But what that comment got me to thinking about was how great it is to have this developing talent waiting in the wings. Granted not all of them will be able to step in and fill shoes that were in front of them but at least we have that pipeline that should limit the drain to a large degree. And lastly, it certainly is a much better position to be in to have talent that you are losing than to be bereft of talent like the Patriots are at just about every position right now. That, is a real problem especially when the draft room at NE headquarters isn't too well known for their drafting acumen.

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On 1/22/2022 at 9:22 AM, Foxx said:

What is crazy to me is how this staff develops players. The way we groom our talent should be a model that all teams look at and say how the hell are they doing that. Of course, not all teams believe in the process I guess.

 

Last week while I was visiting Patriots Planet, one guy said to me something along the lines of, 'I hope you guys enjoy paying Josh a boatload of money because he is going to cost you players at other positions.' Yes, Josh will be making a boatload of money but his cap hits are structured so that if we need cash, we can rework it to so and I think Josh will accommodate that. But what that comment got me to thinking about was how great it is to have this developing talent waiting in the wings. Granted not all of them will be able to step in and fill shoes that were in front of them but at least we have that pipeline that should limit the drain to a large degree. And lastly, it certainly is a much better position to be in to have talent that you are losing than to be bereft of talent like the Patriots are at just about every position right now. That, is a real problem especially when the draft room at NE headquarters isn't too well known for their drafting acumen.

Motor is a great example of what a little grooming can do, and growing in the process IMO. 

 

Elite QB's can turn average players into Champions.

 

I Billieve... 

 

 

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