Chiefs vs. Bills: 5 keys to victory in the AFC Divisional Round

01/20/2024
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The Buffalo Bills are in the AFC Divisional Round for the fourth straight season after dismantling the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-17 in the Wild Card Round on Monday. That game went about as expected, with Josh Allen doing damage through the air and on the ground. Now they get their archenemies in the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round on Sunday night. The second-seed Bills enter Sunday as three-point favorites over the third-seeded Chiefs. The over/under is set at 45, giving us an implied score of 24-21 in favor of the home team. The Bills, with Josh Allen under center, are 3-1 versus a Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs team in the regular season but 0-2 in the playoffs. The one huge note in those matchups is that both playoff games were inside Arrowhead Stadium. This game, as you’re well aware, will be played in the balmy Western New York sunshine (or lack thereof). While that doesn’t count as one of my five keys to a Bills victory, the atmosphere created by Bills Mafia could have a major impact. Without further ado, here are my five keys when Kansas City and Buffalo take the field Sunday at 6:30 in a chilly, icy Orchard Park, New York.

Build a Dome (Around Josh Allen)

The Chiefs are second in the league at 3.3 sacks per game and first in sack percentage at just over nine percent. They can get after the opposing quarterback. The nice thing for the Bills is that their offensive line has gelled this season to become one of the best in the NFL. Buffalo is first at allowing sacks at just 1.4 per game. According to ESPN, the Bills are sixth in pass block win rate and seventh in run block win rate. ESPN also ranks Dion Dawkins as the fourth-best tackle at pass blocking, and Spencer Brown is listed 18th. Keeping Allen’s jersey sparkly white will go a long way on Sunday.

Mess with Mahomes

Everything I said above about Allen, but do the opposite and get to Mahomes. KC is second in the league at sacks allowed per game at 1.6. Assuming you read the paragraph above, you know that is only behind the Bills. Buffalo ranks fourth in sacks per game and third in sack percentage. It won’t only be imperative to keep Allen upright, but to get Mahomes off his spot. Think of the Super Bowl versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pound Pacheco

The head of the snake is Mahomes, but this season, the heart is running back Isiah Pacheco. The second-year back racked up almost 1,200 yards of total offense and nine touchdowns this season. In their playoff win last week, he had 89 rushing yards and another score. Getting after Pacheco will be a smart move for Buffalo. He loves to run violently, so the Bills need to match that aggression with violence of their own. I’m not saying to be cheap. Let me repeat: I am not saying they should take cheap shots. However, they need to play to the echo of the whistle. If he is being held up, get that hit in. If he wants to come across the middle, make him earn it. You know, old-school, smash-mouth football.

Keep Drives Going

The Bills are second in the league with 6.3 third-down conversions per game. Kansas City allowed just under five third-down conversions per game. Keeping drives going will lead to more scoring opportunities. Duh, Greg! But how? I believe you do that through the running game, and lucky for the Bills, KC isn’t good against the run. They’re 27th in run defense DVOA and 23rd in rushing yards allowed per attempt.

Risky Business

I’m not saying we need HERO BALL Josh Allen in this game, but the Chiefs are not one to take the ball away this season. They rank 26th in takeaways per game at just one per contest. They’re also 27th in opponents’ interceptions thrown percentage at 1.51%. Again, I’m not saying we need YOLO balls, but if an opportunity is there, they need to be willing to unleash.

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