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2023 AFC Divisional Playoffs Preview: #3 Kansas City Chiefs at #2 Buffalo Bills

Chiefs Bills

Chiefs Bills
(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

2023 AFC Divisional Playoffs Preview: #3 Kansas City Chiefs at #2 Buffalo Bills

The divisional round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs is here and there couldn’t be a better matchup than an AFC rivalry that has formed between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills are 0-2 against the Chiefs in the playoffs after losing in the divisional round and the AFC championship and will look to seek their first AFC Title game in the Josh Allen era.

This time, the scenario is a little different. Patrick Mahomes is playing his first road playoff game in his career. The Chiefs dominated the “super-powered offense” of the Dolphins in the Wildcard round, but they face some major questions on offense and still do. However, rookie receiver Rashee Rice was the main factor in the offense, posting eight receptions, 130 reception yards and one touchdown against Miami. He was a major contributor to the offense’s success, but questions still persist.

The Bills destroyed the Steelers in the Wild Card round. Stefon Diggs was one key factor, as he had seven receptions for 54 yards, his second time posting over 50 reception yards since Week 12. It seems that Allen and Diggs are gaining that connection back. The key player was Josh Allen who outright balled, throwing for 203 passing yards, three passing touchdowns with an incredible 52-yard rushing touchdown.

The Bills were hurting, though, and may struggle against the Chiefs as they had many key players missing from the game due to injury, including wide receiver Gabe Davis, cornerback Rasul Douglas, linebacker Tyrel Dodson and safety Taylor Rapp. They do have a chance to play against the Chiefs, but with a possibly thin lineup, it could end up being very difficult for the Bills defense come Sunday.

How the Bills can win:

Stop the Run:

If the Bills can stop the Chiefs’ rushing attack, it will become increasingly difficult for the Chiefs to move the ball. Isiah Pacheco has become a key player in helping the offense, and since the Chiefs receivers have been struggling, Pacheco has helped the offense with his run game to help the Chiefs drive. If the Bills can stop the run game, they can force the ball to be thrown more and cause the receivers to make more mistakes.

Get pressure on Mahomes:

Mahomes is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, so if he has time, he will make the correct play. Stopping the run and then also putting pressure on Mahomes gives him little time to make the perfect pass and forces his receivers to make better plays, which they haven’t been able to do this season.

Establish a connection with Diggs quickly:

Josh Allen needs to get his star receiver going early because if he can get Diggs going early it will open the field up for the offense and make it extremely difficult for the defense with all the versatility the Bills can create offensively. Once the Bills get Diggs going early, it opens up targets for the tight ends and pass catchers. But, most importantly, if Diggs gets going, the defense will need to focus on him more, which will create gaps for other players and free Josh Allen’s legs.

How the Chiefs can win:

Stop the run:

The Bills have relied on the run a lot more this season and it’s helped their offense–especially Allen with his decision-making. The Chiefs’ secondary has been good this season and surprisingly enough it’s the defense that is their strong suit. If the defense can stop the run, it creates more passing opportunities for Allen, who is known for some risky decision-making that, in turn, can cause mistakes.

Get Kelce going early:

Travis Kelce has been struggling recently and he knows it too. It’s clear that it’s been bothering him and he lets his poor performances affect his play. If Mahomes can get Kelce going early with screen passes and some short curls or slants Kelce will gain confidence. Once Kelce is going it opens up the field for the rest of the team and can create an opening for big plays.

Prediction: Bills win 28-21

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