We know the implications at play between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs with Sunday’s playoff game. We also know that meeting won’t be like the regular-season matchup early in the 2021 season as both teams have vastly improved. To preview the contest, we talked to Tom Childs from Arrowhead Pride to see how the Chiefs have changed.
1) When these two teams first met, Mahomes was still trying to find the balance of when to check it down and when to take his shots. How far has he come in regards to taking the easy completions?
Oh he has come on leaps and bounds in that aspect. The trend of playing two deep safeties really forced the Chiefs offense into a little bit of self-evaluating. With teams taking away the big plays, Mahomes simply had to find more methodical ways of moving the ball down the field. To borrow a phrase from a legend, he had to ‘matriculate the ball down the field.’ And while all of this took a little while, the Chiefs finally started to have some success with this in the second half of the season.
The short-term benefits were obvious but I don’t think anyone was thinking about the long-term benefits. After a few weeks of playing this style of offense, all of a sudden teams are having to drop out of their two-deep shell. Once again, NFL defenses are having to play catch up to Mahomes once again as he is now capable of running an Alex Smith-type offense (for lack of a better phrase) as well as enforcing his own big-play style.
2) Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a great back but it seems that the team runs pretty well without him. What is the general perception from the fanbase and Arrowhead Pride?
The running back conversation in Kansas City is a really tired one. Ever since he was drafted in the first round, Clyde has had huge expectations put on him—and rightly so. The problem with this is that as soon as anyone else has a good game out of the backfield, then fans and some media members automatically use this as ammunition to bash Clyde. Why people can’t be happy that the Chiefs have multiple threats out of the backfield is beyond me?! Clyde has his uses, as does Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon and Derrick Gore. The plethora of skills and bodies at the position should be seen as a huge positive for the Chiefs—and a huge headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
3) How do you think the team will change their approach in defending Josh Allen?
I’m expecting to see the Chiefs trust their corners in man coverage. By doing so, this will allow for Tyrann Mathieu to become to play the box safety role that he is so good at. If Spags can put the Honey Badger in to favorable positions to make plays in both the short passing game as well as stopping Josh Allen running, then the Chiefs stand a chance. If Mathieu is preoccupied elsewhere, then it could be a long night for the Chiefs’ defense.
4) Something to watch is that John Hussey will be officiating and his crew tends to call fewer penalties. How do you think that will benefit the secondaries on both teams given the physical nature of their play?
The only way the Chiefs’ cornerbacks can win their duels is if Hussey allows them to play physical. We all saw what happened in Cincinnati when the referees decide that the Chiefs’ cornerbacks take it too far. The Bills will also find success if fewer ticky-tack penalties are being called. The few times opposing defenses have found success against the Chiefs pre-2021, was mainly down to cornerbacks playing up in the Chiefs’ receivers’ faces.
For everyone’s sake we are hoping that John Hussey stays true to form.
5) Predictions for the game?
I hate saying this but I think it is the Bills’ time to win the AFC. Do I think it will lead to some big power shift in the AFC? No. But the Chiefs cannot win the AFC every single year, so eventually they will have to temporarily lose their crown. So enjoy your evening Bills Mafia, we’ll be back for revenge next season. Chiefs 27 Bills 38.