The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills back in Week 6 with a rare rushing focus to their offense. It was a big road win that helped open up the path for the Chiefs to take the No. 1 seed in the AFC—and enjoy the fruits of a first-round bye.
Now the Chiefs are hosting the Bills in a rematch of that game for all the marbles: the chance to go to the Super Bowl. Since that last contest, the Bills have lost a single game on a Hail Mary pass (Arizona Cardinals) while the Chiefs’ only loss came in Week 17 while resting their starters. Both teams are red hot entering the AFC Championship, but only one can emerge victorious.
Despite the loss in Week 6, this Bills roster has put that game in the rearview mirror and are ready for this stage. We asked Brandon Croce of BuffaLowDown to tell us more about how Josh Allen and company have changed over the season’s second half and what to expect in this postseason.
How much stock do you put in the last overall meeting between the Chiefs and Bills?
Entering that game, some thought of it as a measuring stick for where the Buffalo Bills might stack up in the AFC. They were 4-1 and Josh Allen had been playing some excellent football prior to that. However, I am not sure how much impact it has on this game at this point in the season. The Bills entered that game missing four starters, had seen their schedule changed two straight weeks due to the Titans dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, and were coming off a game against the Titans where they weren’t competitive.
It was clear they did not have their best football and even after giving up almost 250 rushing yards, they still were within six points in the fourth quarter. Since that game, the Bills have been playing excellent football, winning 11 of their last 12 and the lone loss being on a hail mary by the Cardinals. I think that game is important to look at but I expect to see a very different game on Sunday
Specifically, can you speak to Josh Allen’s growth as a quarterback in the second half of this season?
The biggest thing for me while watching Josh Allen is how he doesn’t feel the need to do everything himself. He is moving the ball around, regardless of who the player is, and getting everyone involved. He really understands this offense and where he wants to go with the ball as evident by the fact the Bills had 13 players (including Josh Allen) catch a touchdown pass this year. There were times in his first two seasons where he never wanted to give up on a play and has such a level of athleticism that he believes he can do it, which resulted in those plays that fans had to look away. Those plays aren’t there as much this year with Josh Allen.
How injured/tired are these Bills at this point? Are you worried about any player(s) in particular?
The Buffalo Bills did lose rookie Zack Moss in their first playoff game against the Colts and he had surpassed (slightly) Devin Singletary as the lead back. That is probably the biggest injury and I don’t know the coaching staff has the answer yet how to replace him. The biggest injuries right now are Gabriel Davis and Vernon Butler, who did miss practice this week. Both players are rotational players so not having them certainly hurts the depth but isn’t a major loss on either side of the ball.
What did you learn about the Bills from their two playoff wins so far?
The one thing that has stood out to me watching the Buffalo Bills this playoff is the moment doesn’t seem too big for them. In both games, they have struggled at points, specifically on offense, but there hasn’t been a sense of panic like last year’s playoff game against the Houston Texans. There is a certain confidence that they have where they know it might not be working right now but they can find a solution. In both games, they have put together that one drive that swings momentum in their favor and they are in the driver’s seat.
Any final predictions?
I expect this game to be very close as the Buffalo Bills are playing with such a high level of confidence and as I mentioned previously, I don’t think the moment feels too big for them. However, there is a reason the Kansas City Chiefs have made three straight AFC Championship Games and they are the reigning Super Bowl Champions. This won’t be an easy game and I expect it really comes down to one or two plays that decide who goes to the Super Bowl. I am going to say those bounces go in favor of the Buffalo Bills and they win in a nailbiter.