As was the case last week, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills relied on their stars to make plays. The same expectations will be set this week. Can Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce continue to put up dominant numbers? Will Stefon Diggs ever be stopped? Largely, both defenses may not be able to completely shut those players out. But, they can definitely find opportunities to swing momentum by slowing them down.
With that in mind, we will focus on one of the top wide receiver vs cornerback matchups. The AFC Championship Game also pits two of the league’s top offenses against each other. Who can win the tight matchups? Where and how often will the one on one opportunities arise? Below are the top matchups that we are focusing on entering the AFC Championship Game. Let’s get it started.
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Tyreek Hill vs Tre’Davious White
In last week’s Divisional Round victory over the Browns, Hill hauled in nearly every ball that was thrown his way. He would go on to finish with eight receptions out of ten targets, netting 110 receiving yards. That is the most receiving yards that Hill has accumulated in a single game during his career in the playoffs. More importantly, the Chiefs were winning down the field when targeting him. Hill’s 11.0 yards per target and 13.8 yards per reception last week kept Kansas City’s offensive rolling at a fiery pace. And of course, the receiver is one of the most reliable pass catchers in the NFL. Just look back at the jump ball he came down with and concentrated on when Chad Henne lofted it up to him.
On the other end, Tre’Davious White is one of the more clutch cornerbacks in the league. His ability to take away throwing lanes and put receiver’s in difficult spots is not easy. Meanwhile, White has proven to be one of the best third down defenders in the league as well. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the highest graded third down corner entering the final stretch of the season. Not many defenders can keep up with Hill. However, White has an uncanny ability to be able to run with receivers and outmuscle them. This will make for an exciting battle all day long on the outside.
Chiefs Running Backs vs Bills Front Seven
For those that missed the Chiefs Week Six victory over the Bills, it was Kansas City’s best day of running the football this season. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished with 161 rushing yards on 26 carries, good for 6.19 yards per attempt. Those were all the best in any game for the LSU product this season. While his return this weekend is not definite, injury reports from practice indicate Edwards-Helaire has participated in the first two days.
Furthermore, the Chiefs have started to instill more trust in Darrel Williams. He proved he could handle a large dosage of touches last week. He finished with 78 rushing yards on 13 carries, good for 6.0 yards per carry. Williams has also been seeing improvements when given the opportunity this year. His 4.3 yards per attempt this season was a career best. Both runners do not care if they need to use their false steps, jukes, stiff arms or even simply running you over to make the opponent look silly.
The Bills run defense knows they cannot get embarrassed by the opponent’s run like their first meeting against the Chiefs. On the season, they rank in the middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed. The biggest number to keep an eye on, is that substantial yards per attempt allowed. They did a good job to corral Lamar Jackson, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards last week. The week before, Jonathan Taylor was able to find plenty of wiggle room for the Colts attack. It is a matter of which unit will the Chiefs see in the AFC Championship Game. And if Buffalo cannot get those run stops, Kansas City will immediately be able to control the game.
Charvarius Ward vs John Brown
No doubt about it, the aforementioned Diggs is likely the Chiefs number one priority to stop this week. However, the potential matchup between Charvarius Ward and veteran receiver John Brown is rather intriguing.
Ward is coming off of a difficult day against the Browns. He mostly faced Rashard Higgins. Overall, Ward allowed a catch on five of six total passes that came his way for 58 yards. That is a completion percentage of 83.3% allowed. In addition, Browns receivers gained 9.7 yards per target and 11.6 yard per completion against Ward. Baker Mayfield had a quarterback rating of 146.5 when targeting the Middle Tennessee State product. If there was a bright spot for the defender last week, it was his tackle attempts on shorter routes.
For Brown, he has the knack of making explosive play after explosive play. Even if the play appears to have no room to develop, Brown finds a way to make a crease for himself. The former Pittsburg State Gorilla is more shifty than he is fast. Yet, those are the type of receivers that have given Ward fits in the past. Brown is also deadly as a downfield target. Not counting last week’s Divisional Round win over the Ravens, Brown’s yards per reception in each game was in double digits. Josh Allen‘s big arm helps to solidify that. But mostly, the receiver does a great job of keeping his focus on moving up the field.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles to end the week. Before this week’s AFC Championship Game, we will have another draft prospect profile and our three keys to victory for both teams. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.