AFC Championship Preview: The Chiefs faced the Bills in Buffalo back in Week 6 of the regular season. Kansas City prevailed over Buffalo by a score of 26-17. This game was over three months ago so a lot has changed since this October matchup. However, like the game in October, the Chiefs will still be the favorites on Sunday.
Kansas City is a 3-point favorite over Buffalo in the NFC Championship Game. The Bills have the talent to beat the Chiefs, but they’ll need to do three specific things in the game to earn the right to appear in their first Super Bowl since 1995.
AFC Championship Preview: #1 | Pressure Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes is the reigning Super Bowl MVP from a season ago. He has led the Chiefs to an AFC West title in each of his three seasons as the team’s starting quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is the real deal.
This season, he has accounted for 40 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards of total offense. Mahomes has only thrown six interceptions which shows that he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Mahomes can fit the football into the tightest windows on an NFL field. When he’s under center, the Chiefs are the best team in the AFC.
Last week, we saw what a Chiefs team looked like without Patrick Mahomes under center. Backup Chad Henne started in Week 17 when Andy Reid rested his starters, but this game didn’t mean anything.
Against Cleveland in the AFC Divisional Round, the Chiefs season almost came to an end. Kansas City didn’t look good without Patrick Mahomes in a game that mattered. The 25-year-old quarterback left the contest in the third quarter with a concussion.
Surprisingly, Mahomes passed concussion protocol on Friday of this week so he will start on Sunday. Mahomes could barely walk last week when he left the game, but he was cleared to play on Sunday. Something doesn’t seem right about this…
I don’t believe Mahomes will be anywhere near 100% on Sunday. The Bills will have to apply pressure and make Mahomes uncomfortable. Mahomes should be a sitting duck in the pocket because he will not want to scramble this week after enduring a concussion against the Browns.
If the Bills collapse the pocket, the Chiefs will have to turn away from the passing game which will neutralize Mahomes.
AFC Championship Preview: #2 | Stay Within Striking Distance
The Chiefs had the best record in football in 2020 because they know how to win down the stretch. Nevertheless, Kansas City didn’t blow teams off the field this season. A typical Chiefs game featured a close first half and a dominant second half run by the team.
The Chiefs will steal the momentum at some point this Sunday no matter who is playing quarterback. When this happens, Buffalo will need to weather the storm and live to see another quarter. Kansas City is one of the best teams when it comes to putting opponents away late.
The Chiefs can score in the blink of an eye with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. When these two impact athletes make plays, the Bills need to stay calm and keep playing hard.
The Chiefs have been in this position for the past two years. The Bills haven’t had nearly the same level of success as the Chiefs. They need to keep this game within one score going into the fourth quarter.
The Browns did this and saw success. They were just unable to finish the job in the closing minutes of the AFC Divisional Round matchup.
AFC Championship Preview: #3 | Shut Down Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill is Kansas City’s main weapon in the passing game. The receiver is electric and one of the most elusive players in the league with the football in his hands. Hill was second in the league in touchdowns with 15 and eighth in yardage with 1,276.
Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs’ downfield threat. For the Bills to win, they’ll need to make the Chiefs earn every yard. This will require a bend but don’t break approach. Big plays don’t fit into this formula so shutting down Hill is a necessity.
Kansas City has weapons all over their offensive unit. For the defense, you need to pick your poison on who to contain. The Bills will have an easier time handling Kelce than Hill because of the receiver’s agility.
Sean McDermott and his defensive staff must know where Hill is on every single snap. The moment they forget about Hill is when the All-Pro receiver will strike.
If the Bills make these three things happen, they’ll be playing the NFC Champion in two weeks for a Super Bowl title.
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