A trip to the Super Bowl is on the line as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. At home, the Chiefs are favored by three points, with the over/under set at 54 points.
The Bills are set to hit the road for the first time in the playoffs after winning two games at home. Last weekend, Buffalo took down the Ravens, using a pick-six to seal a 17-3 win in a defensive battle. Ironically, the Bills beat the Chiefs in their last AFC Championship Game appearance, which was 27 years ago before their last of four straight Super Bowl losses.
As for the Chiefs, they aren’t dominating opponents, but they are finding ways to win. With Patrick Mahomes knocked out of the game because of a concussion, Kansas City managed to hold on for a 22-17 win over the Browns. The Chiefs are now one win away from reaching the Super Bowl for their second straight seasons and two wins away from back-to-back titles.
Not the Biggest Problem
While it’s not officially official, things are trending toward Mahomes being out of concussion protocol and being able to play on Sunday. Of course, Chad Henne’s brief time at quarterback last week was a good reminder that Kansas City’s offense is far more than the Mahomes show.
The likes of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are also among the elite players at their respective positions. The Chiefs also got production from running back Darrel Williams last week, giving their offense some much-needed balance.
That being said, the Bills played their best defensive game of the season last week. Even if you take away the pick-six and two missed field goals by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, the Bills did a great job keeping Lamar Jackson contained.
Jackson was rarely able to escape from the pocket and was forced to make some difficult throws. In a way, he might have been good preparation for facing Mahomes, who can also be dangerous when he breaks containment.
Air It Out
The Bills made it clear last week just how much they like Josh Allen’s arm. Buffalo made almost no effort to run the ball, especially early in the game, leaving everything on Allen’s shoulders.
Of course, Allen didn’t play his best game, throwing for just 206 yards against a strong Baltimore defense and making little impact with his legs. However, the Bills will likely continue to ride Allen’s arm, especially since Stefon Diggs gives them one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The Bills also know they’ll be playing a less formidable defense this week. To their credit, the Chiefs got stops when they needed to against Cleveland last week.
But they were also facing a diminished set of receivers and were fortunate not to give up a touchdown right before halftime. The likes of Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley will provide a greater challenge this week.
You Better Bill-ieve It
The Chiefs have struggled to beat teams by wide margins over the last two months, so even a three-point spread feels like a lot. Keep in mind that Mahomes also has a toe issue in addition to being in concussion protocol.