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The storylines… let’s start here because you’ll hear this one a lot, but you have to agree… it’s pretty unbelievable. The Buffalo Bills are one game away from the Super Bowl.
But aside that, it’s still a usually work week and it’s now Wednesday, so the Bills are turning their attention to their next opponent.
After taking home victories to start the postseason vs. the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, the last step between the Big Game and Buffalo is a meeting in Kansas City against the Chiefs (14-2) in the AFC Championship Game.
As we now look to the weekend ahead, here are seven Bills-Chiefs storylines to follow as it unfolds:
Pat Mahomes injury
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Not only is the health of Patrick Mahomes the biggest storyline for this game, it's the biggest one in the NFL. In fact, it's the biggest one in all of sports right now. Mahomes, the most-dynamic player in football, suffered a concussion last week vs. the Browns. As of now, he's expected to practice on Wednesday. Stay tuned to Bills Wire for the latest updates on Mahomes.
Allen vs. Mahomes
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Each game it's kind of quarterback vs. quarterback in the NFL, despite them never actually being on the field at the same time, right? In this sense, it's kind of a big deal for the entire league in this game in particular. The NFC Championship Game is Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. Both are expected to play again next season, but they're both more than a decade older than either QB in the AFC. Mahomes vs. Josh Allen is really representative of the changing of the guard in the conference and league in general. Adding to that on Wednesday was the retirements of the Saints' Drew Brees and Colts' and former Chargers QB Philip Rivers. Which young gun comes out on top?
Eagles head coach Andy Reid, left, and new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Inquirer, Ron Cortes)
Last week vs. the Ravens it was all about the Andy Reid coaching tree. Now it's the teacher vs. the student, of sorts. Reid hired Sean McDermott back in the day with the Eagles… he also fired him as his defensive coordinator. There's still much respect between each other. Their relationship will be discussed all week.
The first time around
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (Gannett photo)
In Week 6, the Bills lost the Chiefs, 26-17, and like their game last week against the Ravens via Lamar Jackson, the Bills lost a prior matchup… but held the quarterback at bay. In Week 6, Mahomes only had 225 passing yards on 21-for-26 passing with two touchdowns. Not bad, but it was rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who led the way. He had 161 rushing yards and as a team the Chiefs had 245 against the Bills defense. This game is naturally going to be referenced during the lead up to Sunday's kickoff all week.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
In a more expanded sense instead of just looking at that first game between the Bills and Chiefs in Week 6, over the long-haul, it's been a great year for offense for both of these teams. 2020 final offense rankings in terms of yards per game:
Chiefs: 415.8 (1st)
Bills: 396.4 (2nd)
The Bills did have the scoring edge in the end at 31.3 points per game (2nd) to the Chiefs’ 29.6 (5th). But looking at that first game, since we already mentioned some stats from the Chiefs that day, Allen was only 14-for-27 passing with 122 yards. He had two and an interception. It was his worst game of the year. Allen had his lowest yards (122), completion percent (51.85%) and second-worst QB rating (73.4). He did have an issue with his non-throwing shoulder during this game.
Does running game play a part?
Bills running back Devin Singletary. Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
The Bills played their first game without Zack Moss since Week 5 on Saturday. It seemed to not be a slight against Devin Singletary, but he got essentially no work. The first 20 plays of the game were passes because the bread-and-butter for the Ravens defense is their work against the run. Overall, Singletary averaged 3.6 yards per carry, but he only had the ball in his hands seven times... 10 total including catches. Does he play a bigger part vs. the Chiefs? Of the weak points in the Kansas City defense, their effort against the run stands out. Here's their rankings the past two seasons in both run and pass defense:
Pass defense 221.4 (8th)
Run defense: 128.2 (26th)
Pass defense: 236.2 (14th)
Run defense: 122.1 (21st)
Which defense shows up?
Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) celebrates with Jordan Poyer (21) and Taron Johnson. (AP Photo/John Munson)
Offense, offense, offense, that's all we're going to talk about this week, right? Well technically Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and everyone else on their side of the ball will do nothing to with slowing down the Chiefs offense. It'll be the guys pictured above. In regard to the Buffalo defense the question this week will be which version will show up? The first half one that lost to the Chiefs? Or the second-half one that slow everyone down? The run defense which lacked against the Chiefs held five of the final eight teams the Bills faced to under 100-yards rushing. Buffalo defense also had six more turnovers forced in the second-half of the year. But turnovers have come few and far between as of late. The Bills have had one in the playoffs. And let's not forget... Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill... there's so many weapons on this KC offense for Buffalo to defend.