3. Buffalo’s secondary needs to stand tall
The Bills defense is playing some of their best ball and it’s a group that’s recently tightened in the red zone. As my colleague Chris Trapasso points out, during the regular season, the Bills surrendered a touchdown on 60.6 percent of their opponents’ trips there, the 14th-lowest rate in the league. In two postseason games, Buffalo has allowed a touchdown on just two of its opponents eight red-zone trips (25 percent). Also, Taron Johnson turned an opponent’s red zone trip into six points for Buffalo with his pick six against the Ravens! If the Bills want to win the Super Bowl, that secondary is going to have to continue to play good football.
While Philip Rivers passed for 309 yards and two scores against the Bills, the secondary stepped up and stopped the Colts from orchestrating a game-winning drive late in the fourth. They then built on their performance the next week against the Ravens, and held Lamar Jackson to 162 yards passing and picked him off once. While both the Colts and Ravens were forced to throw against the Bills, Buffalo leads all defenses who played at least one playoff game in points allowed per game with 13.5! It goes without saying what this unit is up against in the Chiefs with Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but another crop of talented wideouts are awaiting them in Super Bowl LV. Davante Adams of the Packers is arguably the best in the league and then Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin are all basically No. 1 wideouts for the Buccaneers. If the Bills are going to win the Super Bowl, Tre’Davious White, Josh Norman, Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde and the rest of this group are going to have to play incredibly well in the next two games.
Does Mahomes or Allen Throw the Ball Harder?
Our most official measurement here comes from the NFL combine, where scouts (in most years) test quarterback arm strength. Mahomes tied the combine record in 2017 by throwing the ball 60 miles per hour. (He matched the mark set by Logan Thomas, now a tight end for Washington, and Bryan Bennett, now in the CFL.) Allen snapped Mahomes’s record in 2018, throwing the ball 62 miles per hour. Allen reportedly threw a ball 66 miles per hour at a 2018 Senior Bowl practice, which is so off the charts that I have to wonder whether something screwy happened.
But we’re not looking to find out who can throw the ball hardest. We are big dummies who are only impressed by the things we can see. We care about who can throw the ball the farthest. Who has the edge there?
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is enjoying one of the most improved seasons of any signal-caller in recent memory. Leading the Bills to two postseason wins, Allen will take the field Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champs, Kansas City, with a chance to write another chapter in his storied campaign.
“This is the next step for Josh,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said, via AJ Feldman of WROC TV. “This is what you work for, this is what he’s worked for. He’ll be ready and we’re extremely confident in Josh.”
As a senior, Allegretti had a 45-2 record and placed third in the state at his weight class. But when Allegretti attended the University of Illinois, he focused on football alone.
Still, the lessons learned on the mat haven’t been forgotten by Allegretti.
His father, Carl, shared a video on Twitter of Allegretti warming up for Sunday’s AFC Divisional game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium, and these are some wrestling moves:
We warming up for the Divisional Playoff Game or Sectional wrestling Finals???? Lets gooooo! pic.twitter.com/mlMdwgKqYX— Carl Allegretti (@CarlAllegretti) January 17, 2021
Round 1 - Pick 32
Carlos Basham Jr. EDGE
Basham is a physical specimen who will be dominant once he puts it all together. In K.C. he’ll give the Chiefs’ defense a much-needed boost off the edge.
Around the NFL
2. Matthew Stafford
If the Colts are looking to stay in the mix in 2021 without taking a big gamble on an unofficial project in Wentz, then there’s no better option than Stafford. The price tag would still be steep ($33 million in 2021, $26 million in 2022), and the Lions wouldn’t sell him for nothing, but in Stafford’s case, there’s a much sturdier resume to justify the cost. The former No. 1 pick wasn’t great in 2020, but he feels overdue for a change of scenery and would be primed for something like 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns behind Indy’s O-line. At 32, he’s also young enough to warrant more than a one-year rental, though his contract allows for a quick exit in 2022, if the Colts were ready to move on. The only real issue here is compensation: What is Ballard willing to surrender? Everything else fits, and as an added bonus, the Lions would get to ship their longtime QB out of the NFC.
2) Jim Kelly
Well, it’s not like he didn’t have his chances. Dude went to four consecutive Super Bowls. FOUR CONSECUTIVE. Think about how dominant the Brady/Belichick Patriots were — not even New England made it to four straight Super Bowl Sundays. But Kelly did that with the Bills. And he was running the K-Gun, one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. It’s just crazy to think Buffalo didn’t win a Lombardi Trophy during that stretch.
New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is likely to have surgeries on the torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his ankle that plagued him all season, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.
The expectation is that Thomas would be recovered in time for summer OTAs under a normal offseason calendar, the source said.
Thomas first suffered the high ankle injury in the final minutes of Week 1 and missed a total of nine games in the regular season. But the source said he knew it was likely Drew Brees’ last season and didn’t want to miss out on trying to win a Super Bowl with him.
“This is an exciting day for our organization as we introduce Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions,” Lions owner and chairman Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. “With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Is Andy Reid going to have to adjust his play-calling to account for what Mahomes is dealing with?
Perhaps a few things. You may not see the option run that resulted in the injury — but that could do be as much about the Bills’ athleticism at the second level than anything else. It is worth noting they tried to run that with his foot injury — an indication that he may not have been hampered all that much.
In a game like this, teams are emptying the bag to get to the Super Bowl. The menu should be largely open for Reid to call what he wants to help get his team a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. I don’t expect the passing game to be limited — they’ll be aggressive in trying to challenge the Bills defense — and Mahomes should be able to do most of what we have seen him capable of doing. He may have a few struggles here and there as he navigates pressure, but that will be on him to get the ball out of his hands and to his check-downs — like his running backs.
I don’t see Mahomes asking for many limitations, and I don’t see the Chiefs playing left-handed to accommodate the situation. They’re so close to another ring — and these guys are ambitious and aggressive in their pursuit of it.