Divisional Matchup Preview: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

by Jonathan Lange · Matchups Start/Sit

Welcome back to the matchup column! Today I’m going to provide a preview of the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, arguably the most exciting matchup of the weekend. For this AFC Divisional tilt, if someone said one of these two teams would be in the Super Bowl at the beginning of the year, it would not be a hot take. Both teams made a major statement last weekend when each team both scored over 40 points in dominating fashion. The last time these two teams met each other was way back in week 5 where the Bills won 38-20 led by a near-flawless performance behind Josh Allen (364 total yards, four touchdowns). Can the Bills beat the chiefs twice? Let’s look into the odds starting with the Bills offense!

Josh Allen – QB1

After Josh Allen‘s rookie year, the term “bust” was floated. He had an incredibly unimpressive season, and fans weren’t sure what to expect in the future. Well, the coaching staff poured into his development, and then they brought in and drafted talented pass catchers. Namely Stefon Diggs. And they continue to find ways to get him the ball, evidenced by his No. 2 overall finish of Air yards, only trailing Justin Jefferson (which is wild considering Buffalo gave up a first round pick for him, and the Vikings used that pick to draft Jefferson).

The Bills have phenomenal No. 2 options at receiver; including Gabriel Davis, who finished with 15.7 (No. 11) yards per reception, and established vet Emmanuel Sanders, whose 10.74 (96th-percentile) Agility Score and 10.34 (92nd percentile) Catch Radius rank him right next to star wideout D.K. Metcalf. The last weapon I must mention is Dawson Knox. He not only has a top 10 cool name in the NFL. But he set the tone last week with two touchdowns in the first quarter against the Patriots. When the ball goes his way, he carries a position-leading 133.62 QB Rating When Targeted. But perhaps the most surprising offensive skill weapon is the one emerging from the backfield.

Singletary, the Carry Thief

Looking back at the offseason, plenty of opinions and takes were floated about the starting running back position with the Bills. It took until Week 14 for us to have our answer. Since then, Devin Singletary has not had a Snap Share under 70-percent. His profile isn’t exactly inspiring, but he has earned the trust of the coaches and his teammates. And they are rewarding him with plenty of opportunity. His top-ranked Game Script mark is a testament not only to him, but his team and how it handles business. He’s not the most explosive weapon on the offense, not by a stretch. But his name will be called upon, and he will be performing at his best. Now let’s check out the home team’s offense, who might have their own emerging running back!

 Chief Concerns?

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has had a rough season with injuries and was out last week. And after a Darrell Williams’ fumble, we saw a Jerick McKinnon takeover! Last week he led the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and even receptions! With Edwards-Helaire returning to the lineup, I would expect a mixed approach from the backfield.

McKinnon will not get the Devin Singletary treatment, but he also will not be forgotten. Especially if the game shifts into a shootout, which has been predicted by the point spread. McKinnon, the former college quarterback, has an impressive profile. We should not be surprised to see him continue making splash plays.

Patrick Star

Patrick Mahomes is undoubtedly the star of the NFL, and for good reason. He’s a human highlight reel, and a big play waiting to happen. We’ve all seen his arm strength on display as he chunks the ball as far as he can into the hands of a streaking receiver. To put Mahomes’ arm strength into context, he can throw the ball up to 60 mph (97th-percentile) behind only one QB: Josh Allen, who can reach 62 mph. Now for the receiver he’s probably throwing to…

King of the Hill

Tyreek Hill is such an important piece of this offense. If the ball is not going to him, then the play is likely designed in such a way where he is actually drawing defenders away from the ball. He ranks No. 4 at receiver in Target Rate, right above Sunday’s opponent, Stefon Diggs. Hill also boasts a 10.59 (99th-percentile) Agility Score, putting him between Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks. Which is special company when it comes to receiving metrics. The other primary weapon in the Kansas City offense, well, he’s pretty good too!

Travis Kelce, the do-it-all tight end, is tied for No. 2 for most targets inside the 10-yard line. He ironically trails his opponent Dawson Knox. Kelce has become a check-down option for Patrick Mahomes, and it’s worked. Usually, the target distribution for Kansas City starts with Hill and Kelce, and then the other players can take the rest. We may see Byron Pringle make a splash play or two, but Kansas City has shown that it’s not afraid to lean too much on its top two stars. Maybe even to a fault.

Final Thoughts

I could probably write a thousand more words on each of these teams. And it might still never give them the due that they have earned being at the top of the league. The more I read and research between these two teams, it seems the more in common they are with one another. The gunslinger quarterback, the alpha wide receiver, the efficient tight end, and even the opportunistic defense which schemes many different ways to find advantages on the field.

Both teams had low points this year; perhaps the most befuddling was the 9-6 loss Buffalo had against the Jaguars. We may have years of scientific research and advancements and never understand how that game ended the way it did, but I digress! Both teams are peaking, playing strong, and lest we forget, last year the Chiefs beat the Bills 38-24 in the AFC championship. Do yourself a favor; sit back and enjoy two superior teams scheme against each other in a Divisional tilt that has the potential to be a classic showdown.

Game prediction: Bills win 35-31