AFC Conference Championship – Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 24th, 6:40 pm EST
Mahomes. In or out?
Looks like in. And even the most rabid amongst the Bills Mafia would have it no other way. The Chiefs quarterback has been seen by three separate doctors and is reportedly out of the NFL’s concussion protocol in time for this weekend’s AFC Championship game. Reports from Chiefs practice are that Mahomes has been taking the majority of the first team reps throughout the week, which is as good an indicator as any that the team feels confident Chad Henne will be back in a reserve role against the Bills.
With that scary moment behind us, we can focus on the important stuff: which younger quarterback is going to be lacing them up on the final Sunday of the season to face either Brady or Rodgers?
The knee jerk reaction is that it will be Mahomes, assuming that he’s healthy and stays that way during the AFC title game. After all, he is the reigning Super Bowl MVP, and the Chiefs are, well, the Chiefs. Kansas City has been virtually unassailable all season long, right? The two losses were both home divisional games, but one of those was week seventeen, with most of the starters on the bench. What about the Bills? Aside from back-to-back losses against the Titans and Chiefs, Buffalo has quietly been pretty spectacular. Yes, they lost to Arizona on the Hail Murray, but really, are you going to count them out in this one?
Quick. Who scored more points this season? Wrong. It was the Bills.
Quick. Who had a better point differential? Wrong again. Bills again.
Tougher strength of schedule? Also the Bills.
But Mahomes is much, much better than Allen, right? Slow your roll.
Mahomes threw one more touchdown but had a lower completion percentage. Their passer ratings are nearly identical.
But Mahomes is more dangerous on foot, right? Wrong. Allen has over 100 more rushing yards on the season.
But Kansas City has the best receiver on the field, right? There’s no answer for Tyreek Hill’s big play ability. Actually, Stefon Diggs has the exact same number of 20+ yard plays (20) and 40+ yard plays (5) as Hill. Plus, he has more yardage and receiving first downs than the Chiefs most dynamic weapon.
But the Chiefs defense is much, much better right? Well, not really.
The Chiefs rank thirteenth in opponent passing yards per game, allowing 233.8 yards per game. Buffalo? Fourteenth, 234.7 YPG.
On the ground Kansas City was the nineteenth-best team against the run, allowing 121.5 yards per game. What about Buffalo? Funny you ask. Twentieth. 123.7 YPG.
These two teams are bringing essentially the exact same defense to the table from a production standpoint.
So, who comes away with it? I do feel that Kansas City has a few more weapons for Patrick Mahomes on offense. Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman have been excellent this season. They also have a minor edge playing in Arrowhead, but this game is a straight up coin flip if you ask me.
For more NFL thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: Associated Press Images