The Buffalo Bills desperately needed a win over the Kansas City Chiefs this week. After 60 hard-fought minutes, the Bills emerged with that much-needed victory — a 20-17 slugfest that was much more of a defensive masterclass by both teams than we’re used to seeing in this rivalry. The win was Buffalo’s third in the regular season at Arrowhead Stadium over the last three seasons.
More importantly, though, the win brought the Bills back to even with the back end of the Wild Card field. They are now one of six teams tied with a 7-6 record vying for playoff seeding. If the season ended today, the Bills would be out of the playoff picture, stuck at No. 11 in the AFC. Fortunately for the Bills, the season doesn’t end today, and the team has four weeks left to salvage their title hopes.
For this week, it was a mixed bag in terms of which of our players to watch performed well. There were some big performances, and at least one that left more to be desired. Here’s how our five Bills to watch fared this week.
QB Josh Allen
It wasn’t always pretty, and it wasn’t as efficient as some other victorious outings of his; however, it was ultimately an effective, gutsy effort for QB17. Allen started off hot, leading two scoring drives in Buffalo’s first three possessions as the Bills took a commanding 14-0 lead early in the game. On Buffalo’s second possession, Allen hit running back James Cook in stride on a gorgeous seam route. Interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady dialed up a perfect play call to put the Chiefs’ safety in jeopardy. To cap off the Bills’ second touchdown drive, Allen rumbled ahead for a six-yard touchdown run. He was stopped cold at the two-yard line, but with tremendous leg drive and a little help from his friends, Allen was able to work into the end zone via the Buffalo Shnow Plow (I absolutely borrowed that phrase from X, or Twitter, by the way). The rushing touchdown was Allen’s tenth of the season, which is a career-high for him. The passing touchdown was the 25th of the year for him — and he now has four seasons of 25 or more passing touchdowns in his career. Joe Ferguson and Jim Kelly combined for two apiece, and they’re the next men up on the list in Buffalo Bills history.
Allen did throw an interception when he was trying to extend a play in the second quarter, and that pick swung the momentum back to Kansas City. It was a fantastic individual play by Chiefs safety Chamarri Connor, as the dots showed him running quite the circuitous route to make the play. Allen also made some absolutely ridiculous plays — the fourth-down conversion where he hit tight end Dalton Kincaid after pump faking for what seemed like a lifetime around linebacker Nick Bolton, the deep cross while flat-footed to wideout Deonte Harty and, of course, the third-down conversion where his whole offensive line blocked like matadors, he rolled to his left while evading two defenders, and then fired a perfect strike to running back Latavius Murray while falling on his backside out of bounds. Allen continues to make plays that most mortals can’t pull off, and against the Chiefs, the defense was able to pick him up and help the team to a win.
TE Dalton Kincaid
Well, that Kansas City corner duo of L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie was outstanding, bottling up Buffalo’s wide receivers all night. That left Allen to throw to his running backs and tight ends, and Kincaid remained the second-most targeted player on the offense. It wasn’t a huge day by any means — he managed just five catches for 21 yards on his eight targets. However, he made a huge grab on the aforementioned fourth-down play, diving to secure a pass that extended a drive that culminated in Allen’s rushing touchdown. He was the target on a missed opportunity for the Bills on their last possession of the game, when Allen threw to a covered Kincaid rather than a wide-open Gabe Davis in the end zone. Davis was frustrated, but given the pressure in Allen’s face and the likelihood that the read was left-to-right, Kincaid-to-Davis, it’s not terribly surprising that Allen didn’t see him before the pressure arrived. Kincaid re-injured his shoulder and was taken for X-rays after the game, but nothing seemed to be severe about it. He should be ready to roll this week against the Dallas Cowboys.
WR Stefon Diggs
Another big-play guy for the Bills was limited in this one. Diggs saw a game-high 11 targets, but he caught just four passes for 24 yards. He dropped a few again this week — a troubling pattern that’s emerged of late. The Bills were only able to complete seven passes for 70 yards to their receivers on 17 throws their way, so it wasn’t a banner day for any of the Bills’ wideouts. Most of the damage in the passing game was done by running back James Cook, who had five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Diggs doesn’t need to be the sole focus of Allen’s eye in the passing game, but he’s the obvious Alpha of the group — and he needs to be involved more than he’s been of late. Diggs also needs to catch the “gimmes” moving forward.
DT Ed Oliver
What a year this guy has had so far. Oliver signed a huge contract extension prior to the season, and he’s rewarded the Bills for their faith in him with the best season of his career. In this game, Oliver brought his sack total up to 6.5 for the season, splitting a sack with Greg Rousseau to end Kansas City’s second possession of the game. On the Chiefs’ final possession, Oliver tipped a pass at the line on 3rd & 15 to prevent what would have been a completion to tight end Travis Kelce. Overall, Oliver added three tackles and a quarterback hit to the aforementioned splash plays.
CB Rasul Douglas
Kansas City did everything they could to move Kelce around and away from Douglas in man-to-man-situations, but when the Bills were able to lock Douglas on him, there were some solid moments. Early in the game, especially, Douglas clearly frustrated Kelce, as the veteran tight end took some extra shots at him after a few early plays. Douglas used his physicality to frustrate Kelce, but as the game wore on, the Chiefs moved him around and forced some different matchups that were a bit more favorable. Douglas nearly had an interception, but the ball glanced off his hands on the Chiefs’ third possession of the game. He finished with that pass breakup and three tackles on the day.