Sunday, January 21st at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, New York.
Weather: low 20s, winds 10-15 mph.
Latest line: Bills -2.5, over/under 45.5.
That’s not a misprint; Kansas City is indeed traveling to Buffalo. Mahomes vs Allen stands at 3-3; amazingly all six were played at Arrowhead. They tell me their stadium gets as loud as ours. Maybe, but one team has had far more experience playing in hostile environments. Six down, three to go. The toughest possible path forward is expected, and the Ravens and 49ers insured that yesterday. Who should win Sunday night?
The current QB power rankings would be fun to look at, with a whole lot of flux behind an injured Joe Burrow at #3. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are the constant in the post Brady NFL. It’s hard to change the order until the Bills beat the Chiefs in the playoffs. Both have had more struggles this season than their previous two seasons, but here we are, back battling for a ticket to the final four. Even.
Running Game Weapons:
I like that waiver wire pickup Ty Johnson cancels out 1st round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire. They are different backs, but calling Cook and Pacheco equivalent is reasonable. The attention paid to shutting down Diggs has created the opportunity for Josh to run wild lately. Advantage Bills.
Passing Game Weapons:
Rashee Rice would have been a nice fit in Buffalo, but not at the opportunity cost of Dalton Kincaid or O’Cyrus Torrence. Travis Kelce is a top five all time TE, but is he ready to follow his brother Jason into retirement? The rise of Shakir will start to make life easier on Diggs. The Bills offense is only scratching the surface on the potential of Kincaid and Knox; fun to remember given the recent correlation between stud TEs and Super Bowl winners. Advantage Bills.
It’s a close call in the interior, but the Chiefs have issues on the edge, while the Bills have Dion Dawkins and Spencer Brown. Advantage Bills.
It looks like the Bills long injury list on defense has a much bigger impact on the pass defense. With DaQuan Jones in the lineup, the Bills have become elite in stopping the run. No drop off in this category if Dorian Williams is on the field. The numbers say this is the area where the Chiefs are most vulnerable. We would love to see Chris Jones chasing James Cook downfield all evening, instead of Josh Allen upfield. Advantage Bills.
It doesn’t get much better than Snead and McDuffie. Rasul Douglas should be back, but Benford is out. If Taron Johnson can’t go or is less than 100%, Travis Kelce could be the beneficiary. I am rooting hard for Kaiir Elam whenever he sees the field. Advantage Chiefs.
This year, Butker has been more consistent than Bass. But Bass knows the stadium and the winds. We hope that most Sam Martin snaps are extra points. Harty is an X factor in the game. Slight edge Chiefs.
McDermott’s defense against Reid’s offense. Are we at at point where it’s relatively even, and it comes down to who has the better personnel? Yes. These teams know each other well. No advantage.
I’ve read good points of motivation on both sides of the matchup, but that intelligent conversation will be quickly drowned out by Bills Mafia on its biggest home stage in the Allen era. Advantage Bills.
The game will be won in the trenches, despite any network pregame hype. Run and stop the run. The 12th man is worth more than a field goal.
Buffalo 27 KC 20
Survive and advance. On to Baltimore.
The Pregame Plan:
I’m visualizing a toasted meatball sub with melted mozzarella, with the slight nod to KC being the BBQ Potato chips on the side.
The beer industry seems to skip Valentine’s Day and go right to St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish Ales. I haven’t sorted out the local offerings yet, but you know it’s fresh. I couldn’t resist the Smithwick’s display however. As Guinness is to Stout, Smithwick’s is to Irish Red Ale.
From the charts this week, 50 years ago, when Rich/Ralph/NewEra/Highmark was still a pit:
- Do It Again…..Steely Dan.
- Dancing In The Moonlight….King Harvest.
- Superstition….Stevie Wonder.
- I Can See Clearly Now….Johnny Nash.
Pretty good staying power in that block. Survive and advance!
Editor’s babble: May we emerge from the Pit of Misery and move on to the next round, please. A big thank you to Joe Reagan for his contributions to our blog. You can also find Joe on Xwitter @joer869.