The Chiefs will play their third straight AFC Championship game when they host the Bills on Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS). The defending champions and the conference seed are two wins away from repeating themselves at Super Bowl 55.
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Kansas City is in the playoffs for a sixth straight season. Meanwhile, second-seeded Buffalo is in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after breaking an 18-year drought in 2017.
The Chiefs last lost in the playoffs two years ago to the Patriots under Tom Brady. Will Josh Allen Bills deliver the same result at Arrowhead Stadium, after their first two playoff wins in 25 seasons?
Assuming Patrick Mahomes returns from head / neck injury that held him back at the end of the Chiefs’ 22-17 win over the Browns in the divisional round, it will be a heavyweight quarterback battle between him and Allen.
When the teams met in week six of the regular season, the Chiefs won 26-17.
Here’s how Buffalo and Kansas City stack up against each other over the three phases.
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Bills vs Chiefs picks, predictions
In-game bills against leaders execute the defense
The Bills had the offense in the No.20 NFL Race in 2020, improving a bit more in the home stretch and receiving a leg boost from Allen, who leads the team in rushing so far in the playoffs. The Chiefs were ranked 21st against running during the regular season. The Bills only managed 32 yards on 16 attempts against the Ravens in the divisional round. The Chiefs surrendered 112 to the Browns, at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry.
Buffalo and Kansas City both tend to drop out of the race when it’s not running early. The Bills are comfortable keeping the ball in Allen’s hands, knowing that he can often be their best defender with his legs. But it’s up to Devin Singletary to trust the traditional offense with rookie running back Zack Moss who ended the season with his ankle injury.
The Bills aren’t the best ball control team and won’t tackle the Chiefs’ biggest weaknesses. They will take the approach of being aggressive with Allen to the point that he can try to outdo Mahomes in a high scoring affair. Advantage: chefs
The leaders run the game against the bills run the defense
The Chiefs aren’t known as a running team either, but they finished in the top half of the league, ranking 16th and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. The Bills placed 17th against running during the regular season. It was the third worst among the playoff teams behind the Titans and Chiefs.
There’s a chance rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire will return, but otherwise the Chiefs would do well with Darrel Williams, who only needed 13 carries to get 78 of his team’s 123 yards against the Browns, ahead of Nick Chubb. In the first game, the Chiefs ran for 245 yards, with Edwards-Helaire scoring 161. Due to the success of the running game to complete Mahomes, they held the ball for almost 38 minutes.
The Bills held off the Ravens’ mighty rushing attack, but still gave up 150 yards to fullbacks Lamar Jackson and Baltimore. Prior to that, the Colts had run for 163 yards on 30 attempts in the wild card game. Edwards-Helaire and Williams can be grips with a hard load between tackles. Mahomes’ run and substitute Chad Henne were timely factors against the Browns. The Chiefs offensive line has done a good job adapting to injuries and is again enforcing its will. Advantage: chefs
Bills passing the game against the Chiefs passing the defense
The Bills weren’t far behind the Chiefs in prolific passes during the regular season, finishing two spots lower at No.3. They’re pulling the No.14 pass defense here. The Chiefs haven’t had a lot of sacks (32) but they present good inside-outside pressure with Chris Jones and Frank Clark ahead of a versatile playmaking secondary led by Tyrann Mathieu. The Chiefs contained Stefon Diggs and others’ big plays in Week 6, but had their (typical) biggest struggles in the red zone.
The Chiefs can throw different looks of cover and pressure on Allen. These were effective in keeping him off balance during the first meeting. They can make the midfield intimidating and be more calculated with their blitz knowing its hit rate against them.
Allen was excellent against the Colts and fragile against the Ravens. He can see the medium covered often, but should do more damage downstream this week. The Bills should also have some confidence in the game after some success for the Browns on the sidelines against the Chiefs last week. Advantage: invoices
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The chiefs pass the game against the defense against the tickets
The Chiefs’ top-ranked passing attack will try to stay clear of the No.13 pass defense. They face an inconsistent passing rush from the Bills that isn’t much better than the one they have. they saw some shaking Browns last week.
The Bills had several lapses in coverage against the Ravens last week and were fortunate that Jackson and Tyler Huntley couldn’t take advantage of them. The same won’t happen with Mahomes, so top cornerback Tre’Davious White needs more secondary help, especially inside nickel back Taron Johnson and safety Micah Hyde when the Chiefs have spread.
The Bills have a harder time covering high quality tight ends than most and Travis Kelce has been the best of the best this season. He burned them for five catches, 65 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6. Tyreek Hill was limited to just 20 receiving yards in Week 6 as the Bills struggled to win the big game, but the Chiefs can plan it for deep shots or free field run chances after short passes. When Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are on the pitch with Kelce and Hill, the Bills just can’t come up with the right combination of size, speed and quickness to slow them all down for Mahomes. Advantage: chefs
Leaders tend to press all the right buttons with their use of staff and calls. Hill and Mecole Hardman provide rides in the racing game. The defense developed better depth in the top seven, providing more creativity there too. The Bills have their version of casual great playmakers in great receivers Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie. They have also been on a defensive scoring period. The Bills have the confidence but the Chiefs are completely unfazed. Advantage: chefs
The Chiefs and Bills both have good comebacks with Hardman and Andre Roberts, respectively. The Bills are a bit better at lining up punts and they have the bettor advantage with Corey Bojorquez against Tommy Townsend. The Chiefs have a good kick at Harrison Butker with good reach, but rookie Tyler Bass is also heading for a long career with his precision in more difficult conditions. Advantage: invoices
MORE: Explaining the NFL concussion protocol for Patrick Mahomes
Reid is on fire as a coach with his decision making and motivation. Bieniemy and Steve Spanguolo come up with the ideal complementary offensive and defensive concepts. Former Reid mentee Sean McDermott also calls the shots for his team, with huge schematic help from coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier. McDermott has been a rising star since getting the Bills gig, but Reid has more experience in the big game and the ring. Advantage: chefs
Mahomes and the Chiefs want to be one of the league’s all-time great teams and work to build a dynasty with a back-to-back Super Bowl victory. The Bills also have a good mojo, as they attempt to restore the Super Bowl glory days with Allen. They feel like they are improving all season long and will gain intrepid momentum as an underdog. But the Chiefs are the new patriots of the AFC with their intimidating factor and consistent execution in big moments. Advantage: chefs
AFC Championship Match Prediction
The Chiefs (-3.54 o / u) Game very well against the Bills because their running defense won’t be exploited as much as their passing attack won’t be slowed down much. Allen can try to play Mahomes’ big-arm athletic game, but Mahomes performs better against a lesser degree of difficulty. Kelce and the racing game get help from Hill or Hardman on a circuit, while Allen faces intense pressure in a one-dimensional attack while playing catch. The Chiefs flip the script and limit the time Allen is on the court as they make another full effort to lift Mahomes up.
The leaders win 30-17 and cover the gap.