The Kansas City Chiefs are off to the divisional round and will square off against the Buffalo Bills. Although the opponent is very familiar, the setting will not be. The Chiefs are set to play their first true road game in the Patrick Mahomes era on Sunday evening in Orchard Park, New York.
This will be their toughest matchup of the season as the current Kansas City squad is mostly unfamiliar with road postseason games. Travis Kelce is the only player on the current roster who was drafted by the Chiefs and has appeared in a road postseason game for the team. Despite the inexperience in road playoff games, that shouldn't be a significant factor in this game. What are the most important parts of this game for Kansas City?
If the Chiefs are going to go into Buffalo and advance to their sixth straight AFC Championship Game, here are the six most important things they'll need to do:
1. No mistakes
Even including their trouble at wide receiver, arguably the Chiefs' biggest issue this season has been giveaways on offense. In the regular season, the team was tied for the 7th most giveaways and turnovers can be considered the main culprit in several of their losses.
It's going to also be true of every (potential) game moving forward, but the margin for error is going to be zero. The Bills and Chiefs are pretty evenly matched, so any turnover or costly penalty may very well swing the game.
In their 18 games this year, Kansas City has had at least one giveaway in 16 of them. That can't happen in this game, especially with an offense as dangerous as Buffalo's.
On the flip side, Buffalo was tied with Kansas City regarding giveaways. Also, given that KC's defense is elite, it's realistic to expect the Bills to turn the ball over at least once. Whichever team wins the turnover battle may very well win the game.
In addition to just giveaways and takeaways, other little mistakes, such as drops and penalties, can lead to big problems. In a matchup that might require the Chiefs to score a lot of points, drive killers such as penalties and drops. The problem is that the Chiefs led the NFL in drops, so that could be a lot to ask for, unfortunately.
If Kansas City can play a mistake-free game, there's no doubt that they'll be playing for the AFC Championship next weekend.