The Buffalo Bills are set to travel to GEHA Field to take on the... wait. They’re at home? How did that happen? Really? Are you sure? You’re sure? Wow! Okay, let’s try this again.
The Buffalo Bills will host the Kansas City Chiefs in a long-awaited rematch between the two AFC rivals. It feels like forever since these two teams faced off... all the way back in 2023. Those were simpler times back then just a little over a month ago. The Bills eked out a victory for those of you too young to remember the olden days when this game took place.
Much has changed since then, so I thought it would be a good idea to update fans on what the Chiefs have been up to since December.
Kansas City Offense
Kidding aside about the length of time they’ve last played each other, there can be notable ebbs and rises in a season. With Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce still around, the Chiefs’ offense needs to be respected. But it’s a league known for “what have you done for me lately,” so let’s check in on things.
Pertaining to my one methodology note, I won’t be including Week 18 where Kansas City rested starters and definitely were not “trying very hard.” Excluding that game but including the Super Wild Card Weekend game, they scored an average of 23 points in each contest. That’s actually a touch higher than their overall season average of 21.8 points, but not drastically so. Eliminating that Week 18 game would also move the needle even closer. So far, KC’s recent performances show some stability for their yearly output.
Digging deeper into the numbers, though, shows some overall ripples. Mahomes’ completion percentage has fluctuated since that game against Buffalo, with the playoff matchup against the Miami Dolphins being his lowest rate since Kansas City took on the Bills. Yep.
The New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders found ways to get to Mahomes with three and four sacks respectively. Those two teams were also the only clubs to force interceptions in the time frame we’re looking at. Interestingly, Mahomes has only tossed five touchdowns in those four games, and only throwing more than one against the Patriots.
Number-one target Travis Kelce continues to see oodles of playing time, but he’s had some production dips. A good performance of seven catches (10 targets) and 71 yards vs. Miami is tempered by three games below 50 yards. Some of those had respectable enough catch volume, which means Kelce has had somewhat shorter catches on average. Take for instance a five-catch day resulting in 28 yards. Kelce also hasn’t seen the end zone since Week 11. Maybe he’s due, or maybe there’s some reality to the idea of an offensive slump by the Chiefs this season.
Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice is the threat for the bigger play, but he’s shown some volatility this season. Between Rice and Kelce, Buffalo allowed over 150 yards and a touchdown. Take that as you will. It could mean some vulnerabilities with the yards allowed, or it could mean Buffalo contained them when it mattered by mostly eliminating scoring opportunities.
The last time they met, Buffalo held Kansas City to 17 points, with two turnovers being a huge factor. A flag on wide receiver Kadarius Toney that wiped out a play for the ages did help, but let’s not forget that the Chiefs had three plays to get a first down or recoup from the gaffe and Buffalo’s defense shut them down. Kansas City has been turnover prone on par with Buffalo, so a repeat here isn’t out of the question.
Kansas City Defense
It’s no secret that the defense has been the star of the show in Kansas City this season. Holding teams to 17.3 points per game, the Chiefs been second-best in the league in this metric. This is where things get scary, as the games in our sample show Kansas City’s latest performances as some of their strongest. Since facing Buffalo, they’ve allowed 15.25 points per game.
Now there is an argument for quality of competition, with the teams they’ve faced not really representing a murderer’s row of offenses. However, Dolphins jokes aside — holding them to seven points in a playoff setting is impressive.
Kansas City’s last four games (excluding Week 18) haven’t had an incredible number of splash plays either outside a six-sack performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. On a lot of drives it’s the dirty work getting things done.
Buffalo’s 20-point day the last time the two teams met was actually an above-average performance against the Chiefs, which is pretty wild. It’s nearly a touchdown less than Buffalo’s 26.5 points per game standard this year.
The Bills were the last team to put up more than 200 passing yards against Kansas City (excluding Week 18), and it was barely over at 209.
The Final Straw
The Buffalo Bills’ injury-depleted defensive roster is certainly worrisome. That’s especially true when going against the trio of Mahomes, Kelce, and Rice — without, of course, mentioning Isiah Pacheco. That said, Buffalo’s defense has been playing pretty good ball overall and should be representative of an NFL average or better group. Teams like that haven’t let Kansas City put up gaudy numbers. The Bills could certainly falter, but the numbers don’t reflect that this is where we should be worried.
Interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady and head coach Sean McDermott will need to find a way to crack the code of Kansas City’s defense. No one has put up more than 27 points on them this season. The Green Bay Packers put up exactly that number in Week 13 thanks to a strong performance by quarterback Jordan Love. If Buffalo can find a way to even hit their season average in points, that’s likely enough to win the game.