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Crumbling their cookies: How the Buffalo Bills should attack the Kansas City Chiefs

How do they bounce back?

Every week, I write an opinion column on a few general game-planning tactics I like for the Buffalo Bills to use against their upcoming opponent—ones I think have a chance to be successful based on personnel usage and scheme along with the strengths and weaknesses of each team. These may take many forms, though I typically try to come up with at least one tactic on offense and one on defense.

This week’s opponent is the defending Super Bowl champion and with the cache that title infers, this will be a steep challenge for the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. How can they bounce back after a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans on national television this past Tuesday?

I have some thoughts...

Don’t blitz Patrick Mahomes

The Bills have had trouble getting pressure with their front four at times this year and have responded to that by suggesting they bring the blitz. In my Thursday podcast, I suggested that due to the failures of that strategy, perhaps if the front four continue to struggle, the inverse approach of dropping eight into coverage and rushing three would lead to a more productive result.

This would be a good week to test that theory.

Patrick Mahomes is actually better against the blitz than he is against normal man pressures. His completion percentage is 15 points higher, his yards per attempt is 2.4 points higher, and his passer rating is a staggering 44.6 points higher against the blitz. The combination of knowing where your answers are in a great Andy Reid offense, having escapability that rivals Bills quarterback Josh Allen, and having dynamic weapons (that thankfully will not include newly signed running back Le’Veon Bell due to COVID-19 testing protocols) make blitzing Patrick Mahomes a bad idea.

Attack vertically

The Titans played the Bills respectfully on defense. They recognized that big plays could happen at any time from their passing attack and played conservatively to force Josh Allen to take what they gave him and patiently make underneath throws.

If the Kansas City Chiefs play Josh Allen the way they played Derek Carr, he’ll have his shots.

There is a possibility that the Chiefs played Derek Carr in such a way as to dare him to beat them down the field, forcing a quarterback known for his check downs to stretch the field vertically. There is a chance they don’t play Josh Allen in a way that is remotely similar. But if John Brown is back in the lineup (and signs are positive in that regard at the time of this writing) and the opportunities present themselves, Allen needs to keep up his hot streak on vertical passing that cooled against Tennessee.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday and Friday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!