2. Josh Allen goes nuclear on the Chiefs second-ranked scoring defense
The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed 17.3 points per game this season, the second-fewest in the NFL and the best by an Andy Reid-coached team since the 2004 Eagles (16.3). They have yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season, and their 81% press man coverage rate is the second-highest in the NFL.
Josh Allen is coming off the first playoff game ever with three passing touchdowns, at least 70 rushing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown on Monday in the victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His 44 total touchdowns are the most in the NFL this season. He also leads the league in both total touchdowns (174) and turnovers (75) in the last four seasons.
So what will happen when the Bills star quarterback collides with the Chiefs defense? Allen shreds Kansas City’s ‘D’ that loves playing with its back turned to the quarterback, providing just enough production to overcome a big day from Patrick Mahomes in his first career road playoff game.
No. 2 Buffalo Bills (11-6, 1-0) vs. No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs (11-6, 1-0)
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET, Sunday
Expert picks: Bills 8, Chiefs 1
Allen has been viewed as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks for the past four years, but he needs to get over the Mahomes hump in the playoffs. The Chiefs beat the Bills in the 2020 and 2021 postseasons, but the Bills are finally getting a crack at them in Buffalo.
What’s more, the Bills are the league’s hottest team with six consecutive victories. This is a far cry from a year ago when they were heading in the wrong direction as the playoffs started.
Which divisional-round game are you most excited to watch this weekend?
Sheil Kapadia: As much as I’d love to be a football hipster here, c’mon. It has to be Chiefs-Bills. Any time we can see Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen square off in their primes with “win or go home” stakes, I’m all in. I especially love that neither team is a juggernaut this year. If the Bills win, they’ll have to overcome a banged-up defense, and Allen will have to put the team on his back. If the Chiefs win, Mahomes will have to overcome a lackluster supporting cast. I’m probably setting my hopes too high, but I don’t think either team is good enough to win in a blowout. I think we get an instant classic.
The Buffalo Bills are heading into Sunday’s divisional round game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a variety of injuries in all three phases as coach Sean McDermott ruled out four players on Friday: wide receiver Gabe Davis (knee), safety Taylor Rapp (calf), linebacker Baylon Spector (back) and cornerback Christian Benford (knee).
This will be the second straight game missed for both Davis and Rapp after they suffered injuries in the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins. Spector and Benford were both injured in the playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two Bills players, linebacker Tyrel Dodson (shoulder) and cornerback Rasul Douglas (knee), are trending toward returning after missing a game.
There’s no reason to believe that Mahomes isn’t prepared for a road playoff game. He’s a veteran who’s played big games away from home before and has a 12–3 record in the postseason. But the added challenge of going on the road is something this Chiefs team doesn’t need right now. The reason they slipped to the No. 3 seed is that they have serious issues on offense. They ranked 15th in the NFL in scoring this season, the first time during Mahomes’s tenure that they’ve ranked lower than sixth.
While Sneed has turned heads this season with his lockdown coverage against opposing receivers, Pro Football Focus highlighted McDuffie’s accomplishments on Friday, pointing out that the second-year defender is their highest-graded cornerback among remaining playoff teams.
Trent McDuffie: highest-graded CB among remaining playoff teams (82.9) pic.twitter.com/eMSDa7lHAu— PFF KC Chiefs (@PFF_Chiefs) January 19, 2024
29 - Kansas City Chiefs
North Carolina · WR · Senior
Rashee Rice has really come on for the Chiefs, but they need more firepower on the outside. Walker provides it.
Around the NFL
The Ravens’ star tight end is not expected to be activated from injured reserve ahead of Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup against the visiting Houston Texans, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday, per a source.
Originally expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering an ankle injury in Week 11, Andrews’ prospects drew “outside chance” optimism for a potential playoff return shortly after. This week, he was designated to return before drawing a questionable designation on Thursday.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs’ 26-7 Wild Card Round playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins served as Rice’s coming out party to a national audience. Kansas City would likely not be set to travel to Orchard Park, NY, this weekend to face the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round without his dominant night — racking up eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in his first playoff game.
Speaking before Thursday’s practice, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy explained that Rice showed he was ready for a more significant load as the season went on based on what he was showing in games.
“It’s on the field in the game is when you see it,” said Nagy. “Specifically, I feel like against the Dolphins — for whatever reason, I don’t know why, I can’t give you an exact reason. I just feel like around that time, you could really feel like, ‘Okay, it’s starting to click with him,’ whether it’s in practice, the tempo, him getting in and out of the huddle.”
Social media to make you think
Interim no more: The #Raiders are working on a deal with Antonio Pierce to retain him as the 23rd head coach in franchise history, sources tell me and @RapSheet— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 19, 2024
After going 5-4 down the stretch, Pierce gets the full-time job, which is welcome news to many, including Maxx Crosby. pic.twitter.com/w8vaZgY1QV