The Game Matchups Preview series is dedicated to breaking down how the Buffalo Bills match up with their opponent in each game of the 2022 NFL Season. This series will look at five key matchups; Bills Pass Offense vs. Opponent Pass Defense, Bills Rush Offense vs. Opponent Rush Defense, Bills Pass Defense vs. Opponent Pass Offense, Bills Rush Defense vs. Opponent Rush Offense, and Bills Special Teams vs. Opponent Special Teams. This entire analysis will conclude with three sections; “Why Buffalo Will Lose”, “Why Buffalo Will Win”, and a score prediction for the game.
Below I present 2022’s sixth iteration of this analysis for the Bills’ Week 6 clash versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Included is a scale ranking the advantage in each matchup from 👏 (Minimal Advantage) to 👏👏👏👏👏 (Massive Advantage).
Bills Pass Offense vs. Chiefs Pass Defense
Just two seasons ago, Josh Allen finished 2nd in MVP Voting, and this season, he’s playing at the same level – if not better. He has one less Touchdown (16), one less Turnover (5), and 218 more Net Yards (1837) through 5 games. The stats are just a part of the story though, as the eye test suggests that Josh Allen has taken yet another leap in his already impressive development. His deep ball continues to be among the league’s best, while his short game has improved by leaps and bounds.
More and more often, teams are keeping two safeties deep to force Allen to attack short and while in years past that may have been successful, in 2022 Allen is using that opportunity to continually gain first downs. Adding to all of this, Allen’s ability to gain yardage with his legs, and now in year five, he has become one of the most indefensible players in the entire NFL.
Week 6 will be Allen’s first opportunity to contend with an opposing secondary that does not include an All-Pro DB. They still do have talented players, however, including one of the best Safety duos in the league in Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill. The talent of the two will inevitably shine through, but early in the season, the two have struggled giving up a combined Passer Rating against of 126.2.
Those struggles were most evident on Sunday night against the Raiders where both of Derek Carr’s Touchdowns traveled 35+ Air Yards. The Chiefs are much more vulnerable in front of their Safeties, where outside of L’Jarius Sneed – who sees the majority of his snaps against the Slot – there are a lot of questions.
Their #1 CB is Rashad Fenton (Currently Injured) who is giving up a Completion Percentage of 80%. Their #2 CB (Due to Injuries) is 7th round pick Jaylen Watson who outside of a 99-Yard INT TD in Week #2 has struggled mightily. The hope for Kansas City is that 21st overall pick Trent McDuffie can return from injury this week and take over the CB #1 or CB #2 role, a move which may be necessary for them to contain the Bills’ Offense.
Regardless of how Kansas City’s injury report shakes out, the matchup between their secondary and the Bills’ skill players seems to be fairly one-sided. Stefon Diggs has been a matchup nightmare for any CB this season, as he has already torched the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard, and Marcus Peters. The Chiefs’ subpar talent at CB will all but mandate consistent double coverage on Diggs, opening up the rest of the field for the Bills to attack.
This should provide an environment for Gabe Davis to attack Kansas City’s safeties and possibly improve on his league-high 28.1 Y/R, which is 6.0 yards more than any receiver in the league. Assuming Kansas City focuses on those two players, the likes of Dawson Knox, Isaiah McKenzie, and Khalil Shakir should provide Buffalo with some mismatches underneath and over the middle. With Buffalo having the skill advantage at all three levels and Josh Allen at Quarterback, outside of turnovers this specific matchup will be one of the more lopsided ones we see on Sunday.
EDGE: Bills 👏👏👏👏
Bills Rush Offense vs. Chiefs Rush Defense
Buffalo’s Running Backs played much better in Week 5, but still not to the level expected of a top-tier Offense. Devin Singletary, James Cook, and Zack Moss combined for 11 carries for 80 yards, but more than half of those yards (43) came on just 2 carries. The inconsistency of the Bills’ traditional run game has plagued them for the first third of the season and has resulted in an increased reliance on Josh Allen in high-leverage situations.
Still, Sunday’s game against the Steelers did provide some flashes of positivity. The interior OL was able to get some push, even against Cam Heyward, while the Bills Running Backs seemed more apt to attack upfield. Buffalo’s run game is not something that will be resolved overnight, or by bringing in an RB from Carolina, but will likely be a work in progress for the remainder of the season.
Kansas City does not provide for an environment where the Bills Running Backs seem destined for a big game. The Chiefs currently rank 8th in the NFL holding opposing teams to just 4.1 Y/A. A massive amount of that credit is owed to a Chiefs Defensive Line that is among the best in the NFL. Game Wrecker, Chris Jones, is playing better than any Defensive Tackle in the NFL right now and when he isn’t making Quarterback’s lives difficult he is stuffing RBs in the backfield.
Joining him in the middle is a rotation of Tershawn Wharton and Derrick Nnadi the former used in passing downs and the latter on rushing downs. On the outside, rookie George Karlaftis has been incredibly impressive while Frank Clark, when healthy, looks every bit of the 3-time Pro Bowler he is. These 5, along with some depth pieces, project to be the most difficult matchup thus far for a Bills DL that has already taken on the likes of Aaron Donald, Jeffery Simmons, Calais Campbell, and Cam Heyward.
Behind that DL is a solid LB duo in Nick Bolton and Darius Harris. Bolton had 112 tackles in just 12 starts in 2021 and currently ranks 11th in the NFL in tackles with 47. Your typical NFL MLB, Bolton has an innate ability to recognize plays and fend off blocks on his way to the ball carrier. The Bills will likely attempt to get their athletic linemen in the face of Bolton but his history suggests he will be more than capable of handling that. Joining Bolton, Darius Harris has been forced on the field after the Chiefs’ other starting LB, Willie Gay, was suspended. A Special Teams player his first couple seasons, Harris may be perceived as the weak link on Kansas City’s defense, but he has been somewhat impressive during his 3 starts. These two will likely remove the Bills’ ability to consistently gain yardage with their RBs but whether or not they have the athleticism to chase down a scrambling Josh Allen will be something to monitor.
EDGE: Chiefs 👏👏
Bills Pass Defense vs. Chiefs Pass Offense
The Bills have now played 2 of their 5 games with backups at nearly every position in their secondary. It should surprise no one that arguably the Bills’ two worst games defending the pass came under those circumstances, but combined they only gave up 24 points. The future looks bright for Buffalo, as it’s more likely than not that All-Pro Safety, Jordan Poyer, will return this week against the Chiefs. At 31, Poyer is playing arguably the best football of his career and is quite possibly the single most important defensive piece needed to slow down Patrick Mahomes. The Bills will still be without All-Pro CB Tre White and their impressive rookie Christian Benford this week, both of whom look like they will be ready after the Bye against Green Bay.
This all means that Patrick Mahomes will be throwing on a defense that includes Dane Jackson (CB), Kaiir Elam (CB), and Damar Hamlin (S). A scary proposition for Buffalo, considering that Mahomes is playing as well, if not better than any Quarterback in the NFL right now.
His 74.70 QuBeR sits just ahead of Allen’s 73.16 making this game the likely determining factor of who is statistically the best Quarterback in the league through six games. This is a different Mahomes than years past though as while his reliance on All-World TE Travis Kelce still exists, the loss of Tyreek Hill may have made him…better?
He is now distributing the ball more than ever using his pseudo-WR1s in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in a way that makes them possibly more dangerous than a single Tyreek Hill. Add to that auxiliary options like Mecole Hardman, Noah Gray, and Skyy Moore, and Mahomes’ capabilities may make this Andy Reid’s most dangerous offense yet.
Where the Bills can gain an advantage is in both pressuring AND sacking Patrick Mahomes without the assistance of extra rushers. Buffalo’s ability to pressure, but the inability to sack last year lead them to pay huge money for Von Miller as a player that should be capable of closing out games. Miller along with Greg Rousseau, Ed Oliver, and Tim Settle/Jordan Phillips are the primary pieces in now one of the best 4-man pass rushes in the NFL. That Pass Rush has produced a 23.8% Pressure Rate while only blitzing on 13.5% of dropbacks resulting in the 6th most sacks in the league at 16.
The Chiefs will present the Bills biggest test at maintaining these numbers by trotting out an OL of Orlando Brown (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), Creed Humphrey (C), Trey Smith (RG), and Andrew Wylie (RT) who have combined for 281 Starts, 3 Pro Bowls, and 1 All-Pro. With the abilities of both team’s OLs and DLs, this game very well may be decided in the trenches.
EDGE: Chiefs 👏👏👏
Bills Rush Defense vs. Chiefs Rush Offense
The Bills Rush Defense not only looks fixed this season, it looks dominant. The Bills currently rank 3rd best in Rush Y/A (3.5) and among Running Backs with 10+ attempts against, the Rams Darrell Henderson has the highest Y/A at just 3.6. The Defensive Scheme has altered little under Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier but there have been some personnel alterations in 2022.
Along the DL the addition of Von Miller, DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle, Jordan Phillips, and Shaq Lawson has proven fruitful. These additions have made opposing OL’s jobs much more difficult allowing the likes of Tremaine Edmunds (LB), Matt Milano (LB), and Taron Johnson (CB) to roam free and make plays. Against the Chiefs that free roam may very well be a key to the Bills leaving Kansas City 5-1.
The Chiefs have a surprisingly efficient running game, which when humming provides Patrick Mahomes with more freedom in the passing game. Their Top-3 backs – Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH), Isiah Pacheco, and Jerick McKinnon – have combined for 104 Rushes for 469 Yards and a Y/A of 4.5. While more successful than the Bills trio, there is an interesting dichotomy between the Chiefs and Bills run games.
CEH is somewhat similar in running style to Devin Singletary with similar inconsistency issues which has led to the split workload. Behind CEH is a rookie in Isiah Pacheco whose hard running style is what the Bills hoped Zack Moss could be, while third string is Jerick McKinnon a receiving back similar to what the Bills hope James Cook will be. This isn’t the rushing attack of a Colts or Titans team but is one that is symbiotic with the Chiefs’ abilities through the air.
Further propagated by their Quarterback, the Chiefs’ running game is significantly more dangerous because of Patrick Mahomes. While a very different runner than Josh Allen, Mahomes ability to gain first downs on the ground makes him one of the more dangerous running Quarterbacks in the league.
This will result in a similar game plan for Buffalo as the one they levied on Lamar Jackson, where Buffalo’s LBs will be responsible for intermediate middle coverage while simultaneously spying the Quarterback. Against the Ravens, the Bills were successful at doing just that, containing Lamar Jackson while negating their biggest threat in that area of the field, Tight End Mark Andrews. The Chiefs clearly provide a different challenge though, as Mahomes is a better passer and worse runner than Jackson, while Travis Kelce is a better pass catching Tight End than Mark Andrews. Outside of battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball, Edmunds and Milano versus Mahomes and Kelce may be the biggest deciding factor in this entire game.
EDGE: Bills 👏👏
Bills Special Teams vs. Chiefs Special Teams
Tyler Bass has kicked the ball 28 times this season, he has made 26 of them, and had 2 of them blocked. Add in that he has made 88 consecutive XPs in the regular season, and the Bills have one of the most automatic Kickers in the entire NFL.
As for Punter, Sam Martin continues to do his job when called upon, which is rare. To date, he has punted a league-low 9 times, meaning he is averaging under 2 punts per game. With the Bills’ offense seemingly getting better as the season progresses, the expectation is that we will rarely see Sam Martin. Returner is a position of concern for Buffalo, as rookie Khalil Shakir is still getting his feet wet on PR and KR. With Isaiah McKenzie set to return this week, it’s worth monitoring who lines up at PR and KR throughout Sunday’s game.
While the Bills have questions at Return, the Chiefs have questions at Kicker. Due to Harrison Butker’s early season injury, the Chiefs have rotated through the likes of Matt Ammendola, Matthew Wright, and even Safety Justin Reid at the position. There is a chance Butker could play this weekend, but if he does not, then each and every kick the Chiefs line up for will be an adventure.
Punting for Kansas City is Tommy Townsend who is on his way to a First Team All-Pro award. He has punted just 15 times this season but is averaging 53.3 Yards per Punt and a whopping 48.7 Net Yards per Punt. If the Chiefs need to, they have the player to flip the field. At returner, a pair or rookies handle the duties – second-round pick Skyy Moore is the primary PR, and a dangerous one at that, while seventh-rounder Isiah Pacheco occasionally handles KRs.
EDGE: Bills 👏👏
Why Buffalo Will Lose
Patrick Mahomes is one of the few Alpha NFL players that are capable of single-handedly carrying his team to victory. It doesn’t particularly matter who the other 10 players are on the field with Mahomes, his ability to move the ball up and down the field at will is otherworldly. If Mahomes plays one of those games where he is at his peak, then there is a near 0% chance the Bills will have any chance of beating the Chiefs.
On the defensive side of the ball, when you have a Game Wrecker like Chris Jones in the middle of the field then all the deficiencies behind him are mitigated. Jones is playing quite possibly the best football of his career and making everyone around him better. The Chiefs project to have the edge in the trenches which should force Josh Allen to throw the ball before he wants to. Do that, force a few turnovers, and the Chiefs will be in the driver’s seat for the #1 Seed in the AFC.
Why Buffalo Will Win
Josh Allen is one of the few Alpha NFL players that are capable of single-handedly carrying his team to victory. It doesn’t particularly matter who the other 10 players are on the field with Allen, his ability to move the ball up and down the field at will is other worldly. If Allen plays one of those games where he is at his peak then there is a near 0% chance the Chiefs will have any chance of beating the Bills.
The Bills’ defense does look more well-rounded than the Chiefs. At all three levels, the Bills have proven playmakers and while the loss of Micah Hyde will likely be exposed this week there are other players on the defense capable of making game-changing plays. Von Miller, Ed Oliver, and Jordan Poyer are the three that come to mind and as long as at least one, or more, of them, make a game-changing play on Sunday, the Bills should be in a good position to leave Arrowhead in the driver seat for the #1 Seed in the AFC.
Prediction: Bills 35 – Chiefs 31
You could tell me the Chiefs will win this game and I won’t argue with you. Buffalo vs. Kansas City is a matchup of the two best teams in the NFL and there is no reason to expect this game will be anything short of legendary. Each of these teams has an Offense capable of putting up a large number of points, and quickly, but the Bills’ more well-rounded defense will be the separator in this Regular Season matchup. Of course, this assumes that the Bills’ Jordan Poyer is playing, if Poyer does not play then the prediction shifts to Bills 35 – Chiefs 42. This is just Game #1 though, these two are destined to see each other again in January.