The time for talking is nearly done. Two teams who win in similar ways are nearly set to kickoff Sunday’s game with a shot to go to Super Bowl LV. On one hand, the Kansas City Chiefs are only one win away from nearly running it back. They could become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls in 16 years with two more victories. Elsewhere, the Buffalo Bills are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance in 26 years.
How will either offense attempt to take control of the contest? Will we see one of the teams attempt to slow it down, or stay as aggressive as ever? We will attempt to answer some of those questions today. Before kickoff, we have three keys that could lead to an AFC Championship Game victory for both the Chiefs and the Bills. Let’s get it started.
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Kansas City- 3 Keys To Victory
Circle The Wagons
In the first meeting between the Chiefs and Bills this season, Kansas City had their most productive day when running the football. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who could very well be back Sunday, had his most carries (26), rushing yards (161) and yards per attempt (6.19) in that contest. Having a strong day from Darrel Williams last week also helps (13 carries, 78 rushing yards, six yards per carry). Both can make defenders miss or look silly with ease. Their downhill rushing style has also given Buffalo’s defense fits this season. You never know what kind of Bills run defense is going to show up. However, Kansas City should feel fairly confident in this regard once again. Being able to not only circle the Bills’ wagon, but also controlling the pace of the game, could help in limiting Josh Allen‘s chances.
Contain Josh Allen
Without rookie Zack Moss, Buffalo’s quarterback is honestly their most dangerous threat on the ground. Furthermore, Allen has actually thrived more this season when facing pressure than in his first two seasons. Kansas City must still be able to make him feel the heat and force him to make plays off-script. But, staying under control, making throwing windows double covered and relying on defender’s instincts could bode well for the Chiefs. As well as Allen has played in his third season, we did not forget some of the wrong reads or throws he made in the first meeting against Kansas City. And you do not have to go back that long to see some questionable decisions made by him in last year’s playoffs. Finding that balance between applying pressure and remaining disciplined will be key for the Chiefs in hopes to win the AFC Championship Game.
Protect The QB
As of this writing, it is not officially announced that Patrick Mahomes will play Sunday. The expectation based off of the reports this week are encouraging, though. Above anything, Kansas City must keep the quarterback safe and up right. The struggling offensive line actually played a largely clean contest last week. To boot, the Bills pass rush has been uninspiring this season, compared to past campaigns (44 sacks in 2019 to 38 sacks in 2020). This defensive front is coming off a euphoric performance against Baltimore, however. Being able to identify in pre-snap and realize stunts and twists will be key.
Buffalo- 3 Keys To Victory
Blitz After Blitz
As we just mentioned, Buffalo fared well when pressuring Lamar Jackson last week. They not only had three sacks, but Jackson was off balance all night long. We saw him force a throw into coverage when the Ravens had any chance of reaching the end zone. As a result, his interception was returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Taron Johnson. A relentless blitzing style from all angles and multiple defensive fronts led to a miniscule night for Baltimore’s QB. One would expect that head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would present much of the same. Not only was he pressured, Jackson had one of his worst nights of the year in terms of average yards per attempt and passer rating. Mahomes has largely been unfazed by the blitz in his career. Yet, he could be a little leery after taking that hit last week.
Throw It Deep
Kansas City’s pass defense has played exceptionally lately. Capitalizing on man coverage looks, the Chiefs have been able to force bad throws into one on one matchups. Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen will face a big test on the backend. They were two of the best performing defenders last week against Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Chiefs defenders have been a little more leaky on throws over the top. Allen will continue to take shots down the field. Which of course, he needs to hit on those opportunities more than he has lately. If he can, this will keep the Chiefs defense on their heels and give the Bills offense the best chance to outscore the opponent.
The Chiefs offense does not give the ball away that often. Nonetheless, we know that if they begin to beat themselves or shoot themselves in the foot, the opponent’s chances start to turn. In the AFC Championship Game, the Bills have to be able to force turnovers as well as they have all year. Buffalo had a takeaway in 14 of 18 games played this season. In addition, they won eight of the nine games in which they created multiple takeaways. If the AFC Championship Game turns into a turnover bonanza, the Bills would instantly become more comfortable.
– 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.