On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills are technically the underdog (+1.5) to the Kansas City Chiefs in their Divisional Round matchup. However, factoring in the three-point line bump Vegas oddsmakers give home teams and Josh Allen and the Bills’ near-perfect playoff game vs. the New England Patriots, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the AFC East squad came away victorious.
Here are four reasons why Josh Allen and the Bills will upset Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in an AFC Championship rematch.
4. The Bills offense has finally found a running game
The Buffalo Bills ran the ball this season. They just didn’t run it effectively. This is especially true of the team’s running backs.
Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and Matt Breida combined for 1,340 yards and 12 touchdowns on 310 carries. The raw numbers aren’t bad, but that’s because the Bills were up huge in so many games this season.
In the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, the RBs rushed just 13 times for 51 yards. During the team’s shocking loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, they put up 22 yards on nine carries. And, while the New England Patriots were running 46 times for 222 yards, the Bills’ backs had just 19 carries for 60 yards.
However, late in the season and in the playoffs, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s commitment to the running game has increased, and Singletary has produced much more than earlier in the year.
During Bills/Patriots III in the Wild Card Round, Singletary chipped in 16 carries for 81 yards and two TDs.
Now, against the Kansas City Chiefs, Singletary gets to face the league’s 21st-ranked rushing defense, and you can bet that the team’s No. 2 leading rusher, Josh Allen, is licking his chops too.
3. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are the best safety pair in the league
Teams around the NFL frustrated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs this year by playing a 2-deep shell. Leaving two safeties deep forced Mahomes to either play conservatively and throw short passes or air it out into double coverage.
Neither option is ideal, and the Chiefs struggled to solve this defensive scheme early in the year.
On Sunday, if Mahomes wants to go deep, he’ll face not just two safeties, but two All-Pros (although somehow not Pro Bowlers) and arguably the best deep-field duo in the NFL, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.
Hyde’s interception in the end zone on the Patriots’ first drive of the game last week was a true game-changer. It’s just one of the reasons he made second-team All-Pro this season while his partner-in-pass-theft Poyer made first-team.
Hyde had an INT in these two teams’ first matchup this season, and the pass defense as a whole held Mahomes to under 300 yards (272) despite a whopping 54 pass attempts. In the Divisional Round, Poyer and Hyde will continue to flummox Mahomes and be two keys to a Buffalo victory.
2. The 2021 Buffalo Bills are built for this game
This Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs playoff game actually started a year ago on Jan. 25, 2021. That’s the day after Andy Reid and company beat Sean McDermott’s crew 38-24 in the AFC Championship Game to go to the Super Bowl.
From the time Bills general manager Brandon Beane’s alarm clock went off that next morning to the moment the 2021 season kicked off, the entire organization’s focus was on beating the Chiefs in the playoffs this season.
Buffalo drafted pass rushers (Miami’s Gregory Rousseau and Wake Forest’s Carlos “Boogie” Basham) with its first two picks. The team re-signed veteran offensive linemen John Feliciano and Daryl Williams and drafted linemen Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle with its next two picks. Beane also brought in WR Emmanuel Sanders for more versatility in the wide receiver corps and CB Levi Wallace for more talent and depth in the secondary.
This strategy backfired at times during the regular season. The team struggled against run-heavy, anti-Chiefs teams like the Titans and Patriots.
No matter, though, because the Bills are back exactly where they thought they’d be a year ago and have the team they want to beat their playoff nemesis.
1. Josh Allen is the best player in the NFL right now
No matter what teams threw at the Kansas City Chiefs the last few years, it didn’t matter because they had the best player on the field at the most important position: QB Patrick Mahomes.
This may no longer be true in the Divisional Round against the Buffalo Bills.
Despite not making the Pro Bowl, Bills QB Josh Allen has been the best signal-caller in the league since halftime of the Bills Week 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since coming out of the locker room at Raymond James Stadium, Allen led the team on a 24-3 run against Tom Brady and company in a losing overtime effort, and the Bills haven’t lost since. In that time, Allen has amassed 1,363 passing yards, 364 rushing yards, and created 18 TDs.
In the Wild Card Game last week, Allen basically had a basically perfect game. He had a 157.5 QB rating (158.3 is perfection) and led seven straight touchdown drives. The only drive that didn’t end in six points for Allen and the Bills was the one where backup Mitchell Trubisky kneeled to run out the clock.
If the Bills No. 17 is truly better than the Chiefs No. 15 on Sunday, Buffalo will be heading back to the AFC Championship Game, not Kansas City.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference