On the latest episode of the Arrowhead Pride Out of Structure podcast, Matt Stagner and I discussed the Kansas City Chiefs’ lopsided 42-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Wild Card Weekend. The victory set up the Chiefs to square off against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC’s Divisional round.
The Steelers game wasn’t always pretty. In fact, after 24 minutes, the Steelers were leading 7-0. The Chiefs’ first five possessions earned only four first downs; all ended with either a punt or a turnover.
Fortunately, Pittsburgh couldn’t take advantage — they one-upped the Chiefs by starting the game with seven straight punts — and by the time they mustered an offensive touchdown, they trailed 35-14.
But in their next game — and frankly, any other remaining matchup for the rest of the postseason — the Chiefs cannot afford to start that slowly. In their last game, the Buffalo Bills showed precisely why.
Subjectively, still think the Bills' win is the best offensive performance ever, or at least in the modern NFL. But officially, by DVOA, it ends up third (first in the playoffs).— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) January 16, 2022
The Bills’ offense has the capability to be historically good — and last Saturday night, it was. That doesn’t mean it’ll repeat that performance in Arrowhead Stadium, but even a drop-off in performance would still be light-years better than what the Steelers showed on Sunday. Another slow start against such a dynamic offense could put the Chiefs in an insurmountable hole.
It’s easy to point to the comebacks of the 2019 postseason — but neither of those teams represented the same kind of offensive threat that Buffalo does. The Houston Texans had good players — but in both points and yards, it was an average offense. The Tennessee Titans of that year were hot, but didn’t have the Bills’ offensive firepower.
Buffalo finished third in points scored and fifth in total yards this season. Last season, they finished second in both categories. Head coach Sean McDermott is a good coach — and so is offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who will be a hot candidate for a head coaching position this offseason.
The bottom line
The Bills are one of the best postseason teams the Chiefs have faced in the era of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. It is obviously not the same kind of team as the Steelers — but is also a different version of the squad that lost to Kansas City in last season’s AFC Championship.
The Chiefs need to give them the credit they’ve earned by coming out with high energy — and refusing to allow another sluggish start. If one occurs, even a miraculous string of touchdowns — like against Pittsburgh — might not be enough.
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