The Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills are set to face off in Orchard Park, New York for a spot in the AFC Championship game. This will be the second time in 3 years these teams have met in the divisional round, and the 3rd time they've met in the playoffs since 2020. Let's break it down.
The Kansas City Chiefs
Offense: The 2023-24 offense for the Chiefs is not the offense of years past. Explosive plays are a rarity, they've developed a lot more dependence on the run to move the ball, and the wide receivers are made up of guys who are on the brink of having to apply for Canadian citizenship barring Rashee Rice, if you catch my drift. Plain and simple, not the juggernaut offense it was feared as all those years under Mahomes, but neither was last year's and look where they ended up. This offense can still make plays, they score enough for the defense to hold it down and can be a true force to be reckoned with on their best days. Let's not talk about what they can be on their worst, luckily that Raiders game I believe was a major wake-up call. If the Chiefs can show offensively what they showed against Miami, which was maintaining the run, establishing long drives, and not turning the ball over, this is an easily winnable game. Buffalo is hot right now, but that may be a good thing for the Chiefs given the injuries Buffalo has. If I am the Bills, getting too cocky and relying too much on a defense that has significant injuries could backfire immensely, and this is how the Chiefs make it backfire. Long, tough possessions, there's no need to go for the home run ball, especially in this weather. Do that, and I think the Chiefs offense will be just fine.
Defense: The fact that there are analysts STILL putting the Bills defense over the Chiefs is insulting, and the Chiefs defense should take it as such. Make this personal: Go out and punch Josh Allen and company in the mouth (not literally) Make this a physical game that demands work in the trenches, and with the potential of the Bills' top receivers being out with injury, it's the ideal time for it. The Bills may still throw with or without Stephon Diggs and Gabe Davis, but even so, L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie need to make them wish they never laid their hands on that ball, or better yet, never let them touch the ball to begin with. Making this into a dogfight is what the Chiefs need to do, and it starts with the defense containing James Cook and using the cold weather to your advantage by hitting them where they'll feel it. Contain Josh Allen's legs too by sticking his big-bodied self in the backfield. What the Chiefs' defense showed in the regular season game was near perfect, and really all they need to do is repeat that performance with more run containment.
Offense: Spreading the ball around is the name of the game for the Bills. Make this coverage work by testing the linebackers of this Chiefs defense. The secondary will be solid, and with potentially your top 2 wide receivers out this will be a game where you'll be relying on your tight ends, Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox. Not a bad group to rely on, to be frank, but with how the Chiefs play it could spell trouble if you can't get the passing game going. James Cook is a great, reliable back, but he can only do so much. Spreading the field, quick, concise passes, and exploiting a linebacking corps that likes to cheat up and over-pursue will be the goal, a goal that the Bills have shown they can achieve.
Defense: You're missing a lot of players defensively. Luckily, this is not the Chiefs offense of old though. Containing Isiah Pacheco will be priority number one, but you obviously have to do something about the man wearing #15. Making sure he has no room to breathe and getting an outside blitz going quickly and consistently will be how you throw him off. For Buffalo, exploiting the mismatches on the edge with Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith being penalty-prone is a major key. Force errors, fluster Mahomes, contain Pacheco, and get the victory, it's easier said than done though...Don't let this Chiefs offense get hot.
This will come down to which squad can dominate the line of scrimmage better and who can maintain possession the longest. Both offensive lines are stout and full of reputable veteran players, however, both O-lines also have their drawbacks and a major handful in dealing with the opposing defensive lines. It'll be cold weather, so getting hit is not going to feel good. Health is a major factor in this game, and the Chiefs, as of now, are healthier. If the Chiefs can maintain possession like they did against Miami and be physical on defense, they win this game, but if not, Buffalo has the upper hand. I trust in Andy Reid, Steve Spagnuolo, Chris Jones, and Patrick Mahomes to lead this squad to victory, though it could be a very ugly win.
Final Score Prediction: Chiefs 21-Bills 17