The Buffalo Bills travel to Kansas City for a 4:25 kickoff against the Chiefs at Arrowhead in what feels like a yearly tradition for the Bills. Buffalo has a 2-1 record in the regular season against Kansas City but has lost both games in the postseason, including the infamous final 13 seconds of the 2021 Divisional Round. Nobody can convince me that this game doesn't still haunt Sean McDermott.
The Chiefs will be looking to bounce back from a loss to the Packers last weekend, while the Bills come off their bye week well-rested and ready to go on a run. The Bills are 6-0 in games after their bye week under McDermott as head coach. They must continue this trend to strengthen their odds of breaking into the playoffs.
The AFC field is filled with opportunity, but with the Bills currently in the most challenging stretch on their schedule, they need to win a few challenging games to keep their hopes alive.
Chiefs' New Look Defense
Kansas City has always fielded a formidable defense, with key players like Chris Jones and Nick Bolton playing excellent under Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs have heavily invested in their defense in recent years, adding critical players like Justin Reid and George Karlaftis.
Spagnuolo has this defense playing at an elite level, better than any other year, with Mahomes as QB. It's clear the team trusts Patrick Mahomes to lead the offense, and they've made a considerable effort to match the level of play on the defensive side of the ball.
An Offense With The Right Weapons
As long as Patrick Mahomes is the Chiefs' QB, they will always be an elite offensive team with good chances to make huge plays and go on a hot streak when it matters most. The Bills will need to do everything right on defense to attempt to neutralize him. Mahomes is not a new challenge for Buffalo, but he is one that the team has yet to find an answer for.
Travis Kelce continues to make big plays and be that reliable elite option for Mahomes to throw the ball to. While some Chiefs fans believe he may be on his way down in age, he can still show why he is the best Tight End in the league.
In 6 games against the Bills since 2018, Kelce has 40 receptions for 444 yards and 6 touchdowns. Buffalo has had no answer for his elite pass-catching ability in the middle of the field. The Bills must contain Kelce and ensure he isn't constantly opening up the middle of the field for Mahomes.
The Chiefs drafted Rashee Rice in the second round of the 2023 Draft. They have yet to be able to get production from their receiving core this season, however, Rice has come along well in the last few games. He's shown good production when targeted, tallying 591 yards and 5 touchdowns so far. If Mahomes can continue to trust Rice and his development, he could become the top option for that passing game.
Buffalo has yet again struggled against the run this season. The style of defense that they run leads to a necessity to finish open field tackles against which RBs which they've been unable to do. Missed and broken tackles will continue to be an issue for this Bills defense that opposing teams will attack. The Chiefs will be without their starting RB Isiah Pacheco, however, they have an offensive line that is more than capable of opening up rushing lanes and allowing their backs to get into open space.
Buffalo Bills' Path To The Playoffs
If the Bills plan to make a run in the postseason, their playoffs must start now. Every game must be a must-win without any hesitancy. They can't afford to lose more than one game if they expect to make it through the mush that is the Wildcard spots in the AFC this season.
The Bills had a lucky bye week, with the Steelers, Browns, and Texans all losing games. They'll need to take advantage of some poor situations across the league, play complementary football, and not let up on the gas for a single play for the rest of the season to meet their expectations and salvage a season that seemed to be all but lost.