CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz sees an X-factor that could be big in Chiefs-Bills playoff game

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Jim Nantz was due to arrive in Kansas City on Saturday and was planning to head straight to a hotel where he’d sequester for the night.

“We are back to really super strict protocols,” Nantz said Wednesday on the Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports Radio. “So we’re not allowed to leave our room, so when I arrived in Kansas City on Saturday, midday, I will be locked in.”

Locked in had a dual meaning for Nantz, who said he’d order takeout and stay in his room where he would be completely focused on Saturday’s divisional playoff games.

Nantz, who has called 30 NCAA Tournament Final Fours and 36 Masters golf tournaments, has a special fondness for the divisional playoff games.

“This is my favorite weekend of the year,” Nantz said. “You’ve got four games. I won’t leave my room in Kansas City all day Saturday…There is a very good steakhouse right across the street. ...

“I’m going to go more on the medium side, only because when people do takeout steak, traditionally it’s undercooked. Sautéed onions on the side, and a salad. I’m going to have a crab cocktail or shrimp cocktail and be a happy guy.”

Nantz, who will call the Chiefs-Bills AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Arrowhead Stadium with Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson, is excited to see Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in action.

“I can’t wait for this game, it’s a blockbuster,” Nantz said. “And you mean to tell me one of these teams is going to lose — either Josh Allen off of five touchdown performance and a thumping of New England, or we’re going to lose Patrick Mahomes off of five touchdown performance — that just doesn’t seem possible.”

The X-Factor

Nantz noted Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon, playing because of injuries to Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, had a huge performance against the Steelers in the AFC Divisional playoff game.

And in Buffalo’s 47-17 win over the Patriots, Bills running back Devin Singletary rushed for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He averaged more than 5 yards a carry, and has more than 100 total yards in three straight games.

Running backs could be the key to Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium, Nantz believes.

“Can Jerick McKinnon come back off of 142 scrimmage yards last week out of nowhere and be a factor again? Because you’ve got (Edwards-Helaire) is he going to be back with a shoulder (injury)?” Nantz said. “He is not going to be 100%. Darrel Williams, is he gonna be able to get anything? I mean all the sudden Andy (Reid) he found magic in McKinnon, and that was a big X-factor.

“And on the Buffalo side, I guess I’m looking at it through the lens of the offense but their ground game has come to life in the last six weeks. They went from being virtually non-existent, except for when Josh takes off and runs to where now Singletary is a big part of their offense.

“So which one of those two will hold up? Will Singletary or McKinnon have a big game? If you want to look back beyond the quarterback, go to the running-back position. And these guys have suddenly become vitally important to their teams.”

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