The Kansas City Chiefs had some drama last week when their MVP quarterback went down. Patrick Mahomes was taken off the field with a concussion, and so this week he had to go through a number of protocols in order to be declared eligible.
But he is playing, and KC fans heaved a sigh of relief when they heard that. Now he brings his team into the AFC title game with a chance to get back to the Super Bowl.
Standing in their way are the Buffalo Bills, who have been a very hot team, winning eleven of their last 12 games, and coming off a surprisingly good performance from a defensive standpoint in beating Baltimore 17-3.
This game begins at 6:40 PM ET at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, of course, were the #1 AFC seed, so they got home field advantage.
BUFFALO BILLS at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, 6:40 PM ET (CBS)
AFC Championship Odds: Chiefs -3 (-118), Total 54.5
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Will Mahomes be fine? Andy Reid says so, but something that deserves consideration is the toe injury that he has now. We have seen on occasions where Mahomes has been ailing with a toe, foot or ankle injury that it does restrict him in subtle ways.
Of course, if the Chiefs need to rely a little on the running game, they DID have 245 yards in a previous meeting between these two, which resulted in a 26-17 Kansas City victory. Mahomes was hurried only ONCE in that game. But the Bills did a good job against the KC receivers, particularly Tyreek Hill, who had only eight air yards on three catches (and 12 after the catch).
And speaking of wide receivers, Josh Allen had only 122 yards, 102 of them to his wideouts. Kansas City has given up the second fewest yards to wide receivers in the league, and the Bills may be a bit handicapped in that they don’t have a tight end who scares anybody.
Buffalo has allowed 4.6 yards per carry and Kansas City 4.5. So they aren’t exactly airtight. Maybe the best shot for the Bills is for Allen to utilize himself in the run game, especially when they blitz up the middle. If he gets in the open field, the Chiefs are going to be vulnerable.
One talking point for the Bills is that KC has been horrible in stopping teams once they get into the red zone. In fact, they are the worst in the NFL, allowing opponents to score TD’s on 76.6% of their possessions.
Yes, we know that makes a case for points to be scored. But we look at other factors, some of which we have detailed above. And there is more – the Chiefs have made things more difficult for themselves than seems necessary. Looking at their last eight wins, none of them were by more than six points. And four of them were by three points or less.
Yes, that helps the Bills’ argument. But the larger point is that the Chiefs have scored fewer points in the second half of the season, or thereabouts.
They scored more than 30 points in seven of their first ten games. But they scored less than 30 in five of their last seven. At the same time, Buffalo have allowed 17.1 ppg in their last eight games, after surrendering 26.5 ppg in their first ten.
And remember that lower scoring games are the trend in Arrowhead. Since Reid became the head coach of the Chiefs, they’ve played 59.4% of their decisions under the total.
We’re sure we’ll use Buffalo in some way, but primarily were on the UNDER.
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