All fancy superlatives and eloquent dramatization aside, this game is about two things. One: determining which team advances to the AFC Championship. (No rematch shall be had this year.) Two: determining which team has the deadliest offense in the AFC. It can only be one. Both teams are deadly on offense, and both teams are also worlds apart from their Week 5 counterparts. Since then, the Kansas City Chiefs defense has improved vastly and become much less prone to inconsistency while also lowering vulnerabilities considerably.
I expect this game to be close, a one score game by the conclusion of play. This game should also be high scoring. If the over/under is your play, I would ride the over with confidence. The most crucial factor in this matchup is offensive effectiveness/efficiency. Whichever offense can be the apex in this regard, will come out on top. All that said, what are the threats on this team and how can they hurt the Bills?
SPY 1: Mahomes
We all know how dangerous Patrick Mahomes is with his arm and legs. As mentioned prior to Week 5’s matchup, the key to limiting him is to pressure and contain him with the defensive line. If he breaks contain, then his options are virtually limitless. Therefore, reinforced containment or area denial by the linebackers is just as critical. However, this will stress them in pass coverage, as they need to cover the intermediate areas of the field while also reading the LOS, pocket, and play development. This has allowed WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, and even depth players such as WRs Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson to be even more prolific than usual.
Also, Mahomes’ elite passing abilities open up the use of RPO and play-action play sets, which has led to a slightly more efficient use of the run game in 2021, also like the Buffalo Bills.
Special note: In last weeks’ wild card matchup vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, veteran RB Jerick McKinnon exploded in the Kansas City Chiefs offense. In this vein, he was a boon to QB Patrick Mahomes, consistently offering an outlet or a creative option. McKinnon gashed the Steelers, as a result.
SPY 2: Weapons
Chiefly, (pun intended) the concerning weapons in the KC offense (excluding Patrick Mahomes himself) are TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill. Expect the run game from KC to be used, mainly, to establish the RPO and play-action. McKinnon, however, is a bit of a wild card, his explosive play last week makes him an unpredictable threat.
Travis Kelce is one of the most prolific talents at the TE position in NFL history. He is Mahomes’ most consistent and utilized safety outlet. His most dangerous characteristics are his athletic abilities that always make him a mismatch against coverage and in contested catch situations particularly. This season, Kelce’s route tree seems to be more handcuffed to the short and intermediate areas. With the Bills missing superstar CB Tre White, containing and covering Kelce will be exponentially more difficult. The other Bills DBs must elevate their play to compensate. All-Pro Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde will be critical in containing Kelce, along with LB Matt Milano. Expect Kelce’s yards per reception (YPR) to climb and for Kelce to run more routes into intermediate areas.
Tyreek Hill is not the hill any defense wants to die on, and yet, he so often is just that. He (seemingly) gets better with each passing season. Hill is rarely hurt, and rarely drops passes when targeted. He will likely be shadowed by Bills CB Levi Wallace with safety help. The sheer volume of targets Hill receives wears down whomever covers him. Usually, his target numbers are in the double digits. His catch ability, combined with his speed and crisp route running ability. is a deadly combination. Therefore, he is the Spy’s most dangerous threat at Mahomes disposal.
One way (really, the only way) to contain Hill is to be extremely physical with him at the LOS and when tackling. Normally, the Bills play a zone coverage scheme. However, it would be wise to jam and hit Hill immediately during and following the snap (within five yards, to prevent penalties). Hill is not the biggest or heartiest receiver, and can be disrupted by physical coverage.
SPY 3: Defense
As previously mentioned, the Chiefs defense has improved. However, they have not played elite opponents. This defense is still vulnerable to the big play. This defense is still weak against offenses with dynamic weapons, quarterbacks, and depth of tactics. I do not expect the Chiefs defense to be able to contain the Bills offense. There are simply too many things to defend. Especially now that the Bills offense has a solid run game to compliment their prolific passing game.
CAPABILITIES & LIMITATIONS (Capes & Lim’s)
- Elite Quarterback play
- Elite coaching
- Dynamic weaponry
- Ability to score high volume of points
- Red zone effectiveness
- Vulnerability to hyper-physical play
DARK-HORSE BONUS POINT: All-Po
According to PFF, Jordan Poyer has not allowed a TD in 530 consecutive coverage snaps, which is an active record.
Each opponent will be ranked on a 1-10 scale. On this scale, the higher the number = The greater the threat to the Bills specifically.
Kansas City Chiefs Threat Rating = 9
In closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process and go Bills.
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