KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The main attraction in the AFC Divisional Round game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills is the quarterback battle between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. But there are several other factors that will help guide them and their teams to success.
Here are some of those factors to watch for.
Rushing attack could set the tone
The Bills three-headed rushing attack between Allen (763 yards, six TDs) and Bills running backs Devin Singletary (870 yards, seven TDs) and Zach Moss (345 yards, four TDs) is one of the highest-ranked in the NFL. While the Chiefs are ranked in the middle of the pack, they have rushed for over 100 yards in seven consecutive postseason games.
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in last week’s Wild Card game, the Chiefs rushed for 106 yards with 61 coming from running back Jerick McKinnon. As other Chiefs running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams work their way back from injury, it will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and running backs coach Greg Lewis utilize each of these backs if they are all ready to go.
The playoffs are all about the teams that can control the clock and make the most stops; the running game is a big part of that.
Chiefs offense must finish drives
In the Week 5 game vs. the Bills, the Chiefs offense ran 86 plays on 10 drives and scored 20 points.
The Bills ran 57 plays on 10 drives and scored 38 points (seven off of a Micah Hyde pick-six).
While the Bills were scoring touchdowns, the Chiefs had drives stalled interceptions and punts. The Chiefs also controlled the time of possession in this game as well; the Bills used their plays more efficiently.
If the Chiefs finished their drives, there is a strong chance they win the game. The Chiefs’ defense held the Bills scoreless in the third quarter on offense while it was 24-13. Hyde’s interception and touchdown mid-third quarter made the score 31-13.
Since that game, the Chiefs offense has found its rhythm and has shown the ability to finish long drives. They will need that more than ever against Buffalo’s stifling defense.
Start fast, keep foot on the gas
The Chiefs started last week’s Wild Card game vs. the Steelers with a scoreless first quarter. The Steelers took an early lead with a scoop and score by TJ Watt before the Chiefs scored 35 unanswered points.
In the last seven games, the Chiefs have scored on their first drive in four of them.
The Chiefs cannot wait until the second quarter to score points on the Bills.
KC’s defense is much better since that game so they may get some early stops but it’s quite a challenge to bottle up Josh Allen. It’s going to be a slugfest that the Chiefs will need to be on their P’s and Q’s to win.