AFC Championship Preview: Adjusting to Mahomes’ capabilities will be key for Chiefs and Bills

Senior NFL Writers Terez Paylor and Charles Robinson discuss Sunday’s late game in Kansas City. If Patrick Mahomes can make it out of concussion protocol to play, whichever team figures out how to better adjust their game plan to what Mahomes can, and can’t do, will have a big advantage in this one. Hear the full conversation on the Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

TEREZ PAYLOR: If the Buffalo Bills find a way to beat Kansas City, as long as Patrick Mahomes lines up, you're not gonna be able to take anything away from them, even if Mahomes is hurt.

CHARLES ROBINSON: No.

TEREZ PAYLOR: Because it's hard to go into the defending champ's home and win a conference championship game. Mahomes, obviously, is in concussion protocol. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, which is a good sign going forward. You know, we said Monday, like, a lot of optimism about him. He's still gotta get through the protocol, obviously. But, you know, people around it are pretty optimistic, you know, as long as he doesn't have any setbacks in the coming days. It would take a lot to keep a guy like Pat from playing. But even if he does play, I think the way Buffalo attacks him will be interesting, because I feel like you've gotta try to blitz him. Like, normally, you don't blitz Mahomes. Early on, you've gotta it up and see if this guy can move.

CHARLES ROBINSON: I agree.

TEREZ PAYLOR: We will know, very early, how effective Mahomes is. But I'll also say, there are ways for the toe injury, for that not to be, like, as big of a factor as it normally would be. You know, like, you can do some stuff. And that's what training staffs are good at.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Well, we'll find out. You're right. I mean, I think you're gonna have two games here. You're gonna have the first half, and figuring out whether Mahomes can move or not, and what limitations might be there. Maybe can't move, but there aren't limitations. Maybe, you know, he's still on point, and he's getting the ball out fast, and, you know, it's not a, hey, we're gonna to run-outs, or we're gonna have him doing a lot of off-script stuff. And then I think the second half is gonna be making the adjustments to whatever the two teams found out in the first half, which is, hey, Pat's fine. We're gonna have to draw something up here to deal with this, now knowing that there are no limitations. Or it's, hey, Patrick's not great, and we can continue to press upon this path of, you know, making him get off his spot. Maybe he's not comfortable. And, you know, forcing him to be a little more perfect than maybe he would have to be in other situations.

TEREZ PAYLOR: It's crazy. He could do it too, man. Like, that's the thing. Like, Buffalo is just, like, I mean, he can win in the pocket still. But here's the benefit to having Josh Allen if you're Buffalo. Like, this is why you've got a guy that's gotta be able to go toe to toe with a Mahomes, man. Like, Josh Allen is gonna give those guys a chance. And maybe, you know, this could also be the year where they get this far, he regresses a little, and they lose, and it's a lesson, and, like, it sets up a run to the Super Bowl next year.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Right.

TEREZ PAYLOR: There are different ways. But no matter how this goes, I think Buffalo is ascending. And I do think it'll be interesting to see how the Chiefs attack him, too, right? Because Allen is a guy who's eating up the blitz. But you want to heat up Josh Allen, but you don't want to have to send extra people to do it. If you can get home with four, that's the way to get to this guy. And that's just like Mahomes. It's the same thing. I think it'll be very interesting to see if the Chiefs can do it. Because I like Buffalo's offensive line. If they can't do it this time around, it's gonna be tough to stop those guys, man. It is. And, you know Daboll, Brian Daboll, their offensive coordinators, has had a great season. He deserves a lot of credit for what's happening with Josh Allen, what happened to him. Because I think you would agree, you know, you don't see players make the strides Josh has as a quarterback, in three years, that often. You know, this is an organizational win. This is a coordinator win. This is a coach win. This is a player win. But it starts, at the root of it, Josh Allen loves football and cares about being great. He will be fired up, and he will come into this thing not scared.