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.
The Bills are in the AFC Championship game against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and find themselves in a different place when compared to the first meeting in Week 6. That game, a Buffalo loss by the score of 26-17, featured a Josh Allen with an injured shoulder, no Matt Milano, a hobbled Tremaine Edmunds, and a game-time decision Tre’Davious White. With key pieces healthy this time around, there is optimism in Bills Mafia that their team can win this anticipated sequel and send Buffalo to its first Super Bowl appearance this millennium. What can the Bills do to make that happen? I have some thoughts...
Still don’t blitz Patrick Mahomes
Before the Week 6 matchup between Kansas City and Buffalo, my “crumblings” opinion piece contained two major points: Attack vertically on offense, and don’t blitz Patrick Mahomes on defense. The Bills blitzed Patrick Mahomes exactly one time in that matchup and highly encouraged the Chiefs to the run the ball with the defensive alignments and personnel. The reason I’m repeating this major point is because the Bills’ defenders have talked about finding their way the back half of this regular season and the aggressive mindset that has steered them back to the effective results from previous years. There may be some temptation to try a different approach in regards to blitzing and bring a lot of pressure, especially given the possibility of Patrick Mahomes at less than 100 percent.
Do. Not. Do. That.
Mahomes’s ability to beat the blitz isn’t a product of hyper mobility, and any lingering ankle/foot issues he may have won’t stop him from beating the blitz with effectiveness as he has done this season to the tune of a 135.3 passer rating when a defense brings extra rushers. The Andy Reid offense and playmakers on the outside like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are what gives Mahomes quick and devastating answers against the blitz and this doesn’t change if his mobility is slightly compromised.
Be aggressive, B-E aggressive
The Indianapolis Colts played as well as you could hope for against the Bills in the Wild Card round and executed their game plan extremely well. They took every second (and then some) off the play clock as often as possible, ran the ball, completed passes and shortened the game against the Bills in an attempt to minimize the variance that comes from an increased number of plays and drives by both teams. With a high-powered Chiefs offense, there may be a thought to replicate that to keep Mahomes off the field.
The Bills had a higher-scoring offense than the Chiefs in the 2020 regular season.
Check the stats. The Bills scored 31.3 points per game in 2020, good for second in the league. The Chiefs scored 29.6 points per game—sixth in the NFL. I recognize that Kansas City rested their starters in Week 17, but the Bills rested their starters for a good portion of Week 17 as well against what was at the time the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL (Miami Dolphins).
The Bills shouldn’t game plan as if they’re scared of the Chiefs’ offense.
Go for the fourth downs. Throw the ball in neutral situations. Try for points at the end of the half. Continue the level of aggression you’ve shown so far this year that’s made me proclaim to everyone who will listen that head coach Sean McDermott is not a Dick Jauron clone.
Don’t hope and pray a Super Bowl appearance will happen for you. Go out and take it.
...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!