How bout’ them Bills?
Although it’s just a Week 6 matchup at the end of the day, the Buffalo Bills’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs was monumental. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has never played on the road in the playoffs but that streak could come to an end if the Bills’ season plans go as planned and they finish as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The possibility of playoff football in Buffalo can become reality, primarily with this win.
The Bills’ injury report was the cleanest it’s been since Week 1 with just wide receiver Jake Kumerow ruled out and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips deemed questionable with his lingering hamstring injury. On the Chiefs’ side of things, they were missing multiple pieces in their secondary and defensive line. The odds were in Buffalo’s favor but all eyes were on the quarterback duel.
Quarterback Josh Allen continued his MVP campaign, totaling 361 yards and three touchdowns. Allen has been otherworldly in his last three matchups against the Chiefs, including playoffs, throwing for 973 yards, 10 touchdowns while maintaining a passer rating of 129.6. On the other sideline was Mahomes, who totaled 359 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mahomes is now 3-2 against Allen in his career.
Look at just how similar the stats were:
- Allen: 27-of-40, 329 passing yards, 3 TDs, 32 rushing yards
- Mahomes: 25-of-40, 338 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 21 rushing yards
Let’s review Week 6’s snap counts!
Offense (73 snaps)
The health and availability of the offensive line continues, with four starters registering 100% of snaps. Right tackle Spencer Brown exited the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and was ruled out at halftime but guard/tackle David Quessenberry subbed in and registered 42 snaps. The Chiefs blitzed Allen A LOT and he was visibly flustered, going 0-for-8 on the first four drives. But Allen and the offensive line adapted and made adjustments, going 5-for-6, 72 yards and 2 TDs against the blitz on their final six drives.
Going off the offensive line’s solid play, running back Devin Singletary completely dominated the backfield (86%), totaling a season-high 17 carries for 85 yards. Running back Zack Moss was a healthy scratch ahead of the game and rookie running back James Cook only logged 14% of snaps. The running game was humming in the first half but was nonexistent in the second half aside from some late-game Allen heroics. As long as Moss sits on the sidelines, the running game benefits because Singletary carves out a workhorse role while Cook, who registered just 10 snaps, gets the opportunity for more reps.
The wide receiver duo of Stefon Diggs (88%) and Gabe Davis (93%) continues to prove why they’re among the best. Diggs is having an unreal season thus far, averaging 109.3 yards per game and ranking second in both touchdowns (6) and receiving yards (656). Wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (51%) had a day to forget, fumbling on the first drive and then dropping a touchdown on 4th & Goal a few drives later but head coach Sean McDermott didn’t put him in the doghouse. Rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir played just 15 snaps despite a stellar Week 5 performance when McKenzie was sidelined. Unleash Shakir!
Tight end Dawson Knox (85%) showed up in a big way, catching the game-winning touchdown with a minute left in the fourth quarter. After only registering seven offensive snaps in Week 5, fullback Reggie Gilliam (29%) made his presence known with a few catches and run blocks. Tight ends Quintin Morris and Tommy Sweeney were both active and registered a total of 20 combined snaps. They had no impact on the passing game like Knox but helped facilitate the first-half rushing performance.
Defense (67 snaps)
The defense was as healthy as it could possibly be with the exception of cornerback Tre’Davious White returning soon and safety Micah Hyde out on IR. Defensive back Taron Johnson, safeties Jordan Poyer and Damar Hamlin and middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds all registered 100% of snaps with plenty of defensive back rotations made throughout the game.
Rookie defensive backs Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford split roles all throughout the game with defensive back Dane Jackson on the opposite side. Both Benford and Jackson were banged up at different points in the game but ultimately returned. Defensive back and star special-teamer Siran Neal registered 18% of snaps to try to contain Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce but it didn’t work whatsoever. The Bills must find a starter between Elam and Benford so the rotations aren’t constantly ruining any player momentum. I am referring to Elam picking off Mahomes in the red zone and then watching the Bills send out Benford for that drive while Elam sat on the sidelines. It makes no sense.
The linebacker duo of Edmunds and Matt Milano didn’t pad the stat sheet nor contain Kelce but made plays when it mattered. Milano sat in a QB spy the entire game and did a great job on the final drive of the game. The absolute winner on defense was the defensive line, particularly edge rusher Von Miller. Miller registered 78% of snaps and proved why the Bills paid him, sacking Mahomes twice and applying the pressure during the game-sealing interception from Johnson. Both Phillips (39%) and defensive tackle Ed Oliver (63%) were the missing pieces to the defensive line. Their presence allows the Bills to apply consistent pressure and drop more into coverage. Everyone on the defensive line got into the rotation at some point but Miller led the way.
The Bills took a page out of the Cincinnati Bengals’ playbook on how to contain Mahomes. In last year’s AFC Championship game, the Bengals ran a Drop 8 coverage, rushing just three at Mahomes. From Weeks 1-5, the Bills Drop 8 coverage rate was just 2.1% but against Mahomes and the Chiefs, it was 36.2%.
The biggest task for the Bills outside of containing Mahomes was containing Kelce. At this point, not a single NFL team has figured out a proper way to eliminate Kelce from the passing game but the Bills tried new things. The reason for all the defensive back rotations and Neal’s uptick in playing time was because of the use of dime personnel. Buffalo hasn’t been in dime personnel once this entire season but were in it on 11.5% of its total snaps.
Special Teams (23 snaps)
- 18 snaps, 78%: CB Siran Neal, LB Tyler Matakevich, LB Tyrel Dodson
- 17 snaps, 74%: FB Reggie Gilliam, TE Quintin Morris
- 13 snaps, 57%: LB Terrell Bernard, S Jaquan Johnson
Others: CB Cam Lewis (12 snaps, 52%), CB Taron Johnson (11 snaps, 48%), K Tyler Bass (9 snaps, 39%), P Sam Martin (6 snaps, 26%), RB Taiwan Jones (8 snaps, 35%)
Neal was used all over the place on Sunday, registering 78% of snaps on special teams and playing on defense in dime personnel. There wasn’t much special teams magic in this one but it’s worth noting running back Taiwan Jones registered only 35% of snaps despite usually being a top special-teamer. It’s clear the injury he picked up during the week was lingering and he wasn’t 100%.
Punter Sam Martin unfortunately punted twice this game, bringing the Bills’ punt total to 11 through six games. Kicker Tyler Bass continues to be phenomenal and now joins a few greats as one of only five kickers since 1950 with 324 points in their first 39 games.