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AFC Divisional Preview: Bills vs. Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have given us some special matchups over the years.

NFL: OCT 16 Bills at Chiefs

With the Super Wild Card Weekend already in the books, it’s time to shift our focus to the divisional rounds of the NFL playoffs. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into one of, if not the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs at the Buffalo Bills.

Since Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen took the keys to their respective teams, we’ve been treated to countless classic matchups between the Chiefs and Bills. The last three times these two have squared off, it has been decided by one score.

The first and arguably the best of those three matchups came in the 2022 AFC Divisional Round. The Bills traveled to Arrowhead and gave the defending Super Bowl champs a run for their money. The Bills trailed the Chiefs by a score of 29-33 with just over a minute left on the clock. Josh Allen would then connect on passes of 28, 12, 16 and 19 yards, the last of which was a touchdown to Gabe Davis. They’d take a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds left on the clock, and virtually everyone thought the game was over.

Well, it wasn’t. Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for 19 yards before finding Travis Kelce wide open for a 25-yard gain to the Bills 31-yard line. Harrison Butker lined up a 49-yard field goal and drilled it as time expired to send this game to OT.

Unfortunately, Josh Allen and the Bills didn’t get a chance to touch the ball as the Chiefs won the coin toss and scored a touchdown on the opening possession of OT. This result would cause a rule change making sure both teams touch the ball in OT if it’s in a playoff game.

Since that heartbreaking loss, the Bills have won two straight against Mahomes and the Chiefs by scores of 24-20 and 20-17. Now, they will face off in the AFC Divisional Round for the first time since their first legendary matchup.

Obviously, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks in this one. Mahomes is in the midst of a “down year” (which many quarterbacks in this league would consider a career year) where he threw for 4,183 yards and 27 touchdowns while Allen threw for 4,306 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 524 yards and 15 scores. However, both quarterbacks are in the tops of the league in interceptions, throwing 14 and 18 respectively in 2023.

This game will also mark the first time that a Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs team will travel for a playoff game. Outside of the Super Bowls, all 15 of Mahomes’ playoff games have been played at home. Interestingly enough, this will also mark the first time Mahomes travels to Buffalo in general. The two teams have met five times since he took over as the Chiefs starter, and all five games have been played in Arrowhead. Fortunately for him, Mahomes has been a better quarterback away from home. In his career, Mahomes has played two more away games in the regular season, but has thrown for nearly 1,700 more yards, 19 more touchdowns and three more interceptions.

Both teams have elite quarterbacks, but let’s talk about the receiving threats. For KC, Travis Kelce has been a shell of himself since he started dating Taylor Swift, but in the Wild Card round, Kelce caught seven balls for 71 yards. Outside of Kelce, the Chiefs' leading receiver is Rashee Rice, a rookie who has come along very nicely for them towards the end of the season. He went for 130 yards in the postseason opener, and despite playing in negative temperatures, looked like a vet out there.

On the other hand, the Bills are led in receiving by Stefon Diggs, but he’s been in a slump lately. He finished the season with 11 straight games of under 100 yards, and that continued on Monday night where he caught seven balls for 52 yards. He’ll need to step up big on Sunday against the Chiefs if they want to win. Their main threat over that time frame has been rookie tight end, Dalton Kincaid. He had a solid rookie season, catching 73 balls for 673 yards and two touchdowns. Allen will need both of his guys to be on point on Sunday to keep up with the Chiefs.

Alright, I know we’ve talked a lot about these two offenses, so let’s switch sides of the ball.

This game will also boast two of the NFL’s best defenses. The Chiefs rank second in the league in points per game allowed (16.7) and second in total yards allowed (288.3) while the Bills ranks fourth in PPG allowed (18.2) and ninth in total yards allowed (308.1). This marks the first time these two have met with both squads having top-10 defenses.

Both these teams have elite pass rushes. The Chiefs have two guys (Chris Jones and George Karlaftis) who have 10.5 sacks this season while the Bills have two guys (Leonard Floyd and Ed Oliver) who have 9.5+ sacks this year. However, both of these teams rank No. 1 and No. 2 in sacks allowed per game. Allen is the least sacked quarterback in the NFL this year, going down just 1.4 times per game. Mahomes is second, getting sacked just 1.6 times per game.

This game has it all; Two of the best quarterbacks in the league, two of the best defenses in the league and two teams that hate each other and want to win this game more than anything. If history tells us anything, we should be in for another instant classic on Sunday night.

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