After a crazy season that has seen a team play without a quarterback and a game played on every day of the week, we have finally come to championship weekend! We have matchups between the four best teams and arguably the four best quarterbacks. It’s a battle of young MVP-caliber quarterbacks when the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills kickoff on Sunday.
According to the NFL odds at SportsBettingDime.com, Kansas City and Green Bay are the two teams expected to advance to the Super Bowl on February 7th, but we all know the way this season has gone to expect the unexpected. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these high-powered matchups.
AFC Championship Game
Will Patrick Mahomes play?
Don’t kid yourself, Patrick Mahomes will play in this game. Nobody is going to tell the Chiefs, and more importantly the NFL, no to one of their biggest marquee players playing on this big of a stage. If he doesn’t play, then Chad Henne will be the next man up. Even with Henne, the Chiefs would still be a tough out. The weapons the Chiefs have at their disposal seem limitless, and Andy Reid proved last week going for it on fourth down with the season on the line that he trusts that Henne can do the job.
How much can we take away from the first matchup between these teams?
The Chiefs dominated the matchup in Week 6 between these teams, but and this is a big but, the Bills were missing starting tight end Dawson Knox, starting linebacker Matt Milano, and a pair of rotation defensive linemen in Trent Murphy and Harrison Phillips. Their current offensive line also has two different starters from their Week 6 lineup. So this will be a much better Bills team this time around. Plus, the Bills defense struggled through much of the season but is playing at a high level right now.
How do the Bills defend the Chiefs?
Just like they did in the Week 6 loss, they did not blitz one time in the game and they limited Mahomes to zero completions over 20 yards. Tyreek Hill had just 3 catches for 20 yards. They played quarters coverage on roughly 65 percent of Kansas City’s pass plays. This did lead to a big day for tight end Travis Kelce, but you have to give the Chiefs offense something because it’s impossible to take everything away. You give up plays to Kelce, but you can eliminate the quick scores that will get the Chiefs into a flow.
Let’s take a look at Mahomes passing chart from that Week 6 matchup.
The other issue this two safety high zone concept raises is the inability to stop the run game, and in Week 6 the Chiefs ran for 245 yards. Will the Bills choose to play this way again? This game plan was very similar to what the Giants did in Super Bowl 25 against an explosive Buffalo Bills team. The Bills did adjust at the start of the second half by dropping a safety into the box when KC was under center and then dropping the safety back when the Chiefs were in the shotgun.
How will the Chiefs defend the Bills?
In that Week 6 matchup, the Chiefs did the opposite of what the Bills did to them. The Chiefs actually blitzed 50 percent of the time on passing plays. Expect a different defense this time. In Week 6 guard John Feliciano was out and since he has been back the Bills pass protection has been as good as anybody in the NFL. If the Chiefs decide to use that strategy again the Bills will have a shot at scoring a lot of points.
The Chiefs were also aggressive in coverage in that first matchup and Josh Allen struggled missing a lot of open throws. The progression of Allen as a quarterback has told me that he has learned from that game.
This is an intriguing matchup. I think that coaching in this game will be huge, and these are two of the best staffs in the entire NFL. I think in the end Allen gets a signature win and a trip to the Super Bowl in a small upset. The Bills will control the tempo of the game with their defense, limiting the Chiefs’ big plays. On offense, I think that Josh Allen will have a huge day against an at best average Chiefs defense.
Bills 27 Chiefs 24