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Bills vs. Chiefs: Next Gen Stats highlight a mouthwatering matchup

Next Gen Stats add some additional context to the Allen-Mahomes matchup and those who must defend them

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills sit atop the AFC East with a 4-1 record. The offense looks unstoppable at times, the defense has been dominant with backups for weeks, and the team is getting healthy.

As much as this may seem like just a Week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, it isn’t. This game may be a crucial deciding factor for home-field advantage come playoff time—should these two teams meet again in January. It’s a daunting environment, playing at Arrowhead Stadium, so the Bills need to come out firing and prove they deserve to win the game. The hype surrounding this matchup is real, and rightfully so. It’s the battle of the best two quarterbacks in the league.

Josh Allen has been on fire to start the season, leading the league in passing yards (1,651), total touchdowns (16) and completions of 40-plus yards (6). He’s done all of this while resting two full quarters due to blowouts against both the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. On the other sideline is Patrick Mahomes, who ranks fourth in passing yards (1,398), second in passer rating (110.5), and first in passing touchdowns (15).

Allen thrives when wide receiver Gabe Davis is fully healthy and stretching the field, because in addition to launching rockets in Davis’ direction, it opens the field for others (cue wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Khalil Shakir) to get open. When the receivers are healthy, Allen appears otherworldly. In Week 5, he led the league in passing yards (424), passing touchdowns (4) and average intended air yards (13.1). Last week against the Steelers, Davis exploded for three receptions, 171 yards and two touchdowns—one coming on the third play of the game for 98 yards, and another for 62 yards.

Per Next Gen Stats, Allen’s 62-yard TD throw to Davis had a completion probability of just 21.5% and traveled 60.1 yards in the air, the second-longest completion in the NFL this season. During the 98-yard scoring throw on 3rd & 10 on the opening drive, Davis ran a total of 104.1 yards from snap to score—the most distance covered on a reception this season.

His touchdown reception came on a post route. Since 2021, including playoffs, Davis leads the NFL in receiving yards (444) and touchdowns (5) on just post routes, again per Next Gen Stats.

In Week 5 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Mahomes was nearly unstoppable himself, throwing for 292 yards and four touchdowns. Many believed Mahomes could regress without wide receiver Tyreek Hill stretching the field, but Travis Kelce exists. Kelce caught all four of Mahomes’ touchdowns on Monday night, with three coming on crossing routes—the most by any player on a single route in a game over the last five seasons. During Mahomes’ go-ahead eight-yard touchdown pass, he traveled 52.7 yards from snap to score—the most distance traveled on a touchdown play under 10 yards since quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in 2018.

The reason why the Mahomes-Kelce duo is so successful is because of these routes across the middle of the field. Mahomes completed 16-of-23 passes targeting the seams for 146 yards and three TDs, and is only the only quarterback to earn a perfect NGS passing score (9) targeting the seams this season.

The league hasn't figured out a way to fully shut down Kelce, especially so when it comes to the Bills’ defense of him. Buffalo has struggled the last few games to cover him consistently, but hopefully the main focus this week in practice was to prevent easy catches on crossing routes. Buckle up for the numerous third-down conversions to Kelce across the middle of the field on Sunday, Bills Mafia.