The Buffalo Bills host the Kansas City Chiefs this week in a showdown of two of the AFC’s best teams. Both squads are coming off of disappointing losses in Week 5, as the Chiefs dropped a close game to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Bills were shellacked by the Tennessee Titans.
Which Chiefs will be the key opponents for Buffalo to shut down on their way to a victory? Here’s our list.
To be fair, there really is no “shutting down” Mahomes—there’s only containing him. The Super Bowl champ is so good that you could argue he’s off to a disappointing start this season, as he’s completed “only” 63% of his passes for 1,474 yards, 13 touchdowns, and one interception. The guy makes throws that you can only make in Madden, showing uncanny arm strength and field awareness in even the muddiest of pockets. He is as good as it gets, and he can beat you with both his arm and his legs. After allowing Ryan Tannehill to do essentially whatever he wanted on Tuesday, Buffalo will have to hope that some players can return from injury to spark the defense. Otherwise, Mahomes could put on a show.
WR Tyreek Hill
The diminutive speedster should draw plenty of Tre’Davious White if Buffalo’s top corner is healthy enough to play this week. If he operates in the slot, Hill could find himself matched up with Taron Johnson or Cam Lewis, which is a matchup I’d bet on Hill to win 11 out of 10 times. White will need to shadow Hill, as the Bills will need to expend multiple resources in trying to shut down Kansas City’s other fantastic target via double-teams and bracketed coverages.
TE Travis Kelce
The Bills do not cover tight ends well. Kelce shreds even the best NFL defenses, and Buffalo’s defense has not been among the league’s best defenses this year. This matchup is a big problem for a Bills team that has allowed over 30 catches, more than 400 yards, and five touchdowns to tight ends so far this year. If Matt Milano can return, that will help. Otherwise, the Bills will have to use some combination of Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, and Tremaine Edmunds to slow Kelce down.
DT Chris Jones
The mammoth defensive tackle is a straight-up wrecking ball, as he has 16 tackles, seven quarterback hits, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass breakup already in just four games. After notching nine sacks in 13 games last year, Jones seems to be on pace to have even better numbers in 2020. No quarterback likes pressure in his face, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen tends to try escaping and make a play rather than throw the ball away quickly to a hot receiver, often spinning blindly to his left and retreating a few yards before trying to throw. If Jones can disrupt the pocket in the middle, it could lead to quite a few big losses. His former teammate, Mitch Morse, and Buffalo’s other interior offensive linemen will need to lock him down this week.
CB Rashad Fenton
The Chiefs have a pair of 23-year-old corners doing work this season, but Fenton is the team leader in pass breakups with five. As a rookie last year, he played in 12 games and only broke up four passes. With an increase in playing time and experience, Fenton has seen his exposure increase this year. Last season, he only allowed 8-of-17 passes thrown his way to be caught; this year, he’s allowed a similarly solid 16-of-29 passes to be caught. The difference is that he’s been beaten for big plays this year, as those 16 completions have gone for 232 yards and two touchdowns. If John Brown is healthy enough to play, Fenton will be stuck on either Brown or Stefon Diggs, which could lead to some big downfield plays for a Bills offense that sorely missed those plays last week.