Analysis

A positional breakdown of the AFC Championship

Who has the advantage heading into the AFC Championship? We break down the Bills and Chiefs roster position by position to see who has the edge.

Quarterback:

Bills – Josh Allen 

Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes

To be optimistic, we will be assuming that a healthy Patrick Mahomes will be leading the Chiefs on Sunday night. Josh Allen has had a fantastic season and elevated his play drastically. He has improved his accuracy and limited turnovers that have plagued him in the past. Allen is still dangerous as a runner as well, rushing for 421 yards and 8 TDs.

Allen will likely receive MVP votes and deserves to be in the conversations as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Recency bias would lead you to believe that Allen has the edge over Mahomes, but Mahomes has to have an edge simply based on experience and the fact that he’s done it for longer.

If the Bills have a bad start and fall down 17-0, can Josh Allen lead a comeback? We’ve seen Mahomes do that time and time again. The Bills offense scored a single touchdown last week against a defense that Kansas City has dominated. Patrick Mahomes’ lowest-scoring playoff appearance is 31 points (excluding yesterday when he left the game early), which he has done three times. 

When it comes to Mahomes vs. Allen, it might be 1A and 1B but Mahomes has to be 1A. He is the more experienced, trustworthy, and reliable player heading into this game.

Advantage: Chiefs 

Running Back:

Bills – Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon and Taiwan Jones

Chiefs – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrell Williams and Le’Veon Bell

The Bills lost a dynamic playmaker in Zack Moss in the Wild Card round against the Colts. Singletary and Moss made for a nice one-two punch for one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL. Singletary is not quite as dangerous in the open field as Moss and isn’t as strong of a pass catcher.

That being said, he can find an open seam and hit it. The Chiefs look to get Edwards-Helaire back from injury after one of Darrell Williams’ best games of his career against the Browns. The Chiefs’ running backs go three deep with Bell, all three have been able to make big plays for the offense and are capable pass catchers. 

Advantage: Chiefs

Tight End:

Bills – Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft

Chiefs – Travis Kelce and Nick Keizer

If we were to combine the traits of Tyler Kroft and Dawson Knox into one player they still would not be equal to Travis Kelce. Kelce is the third-best player in this game after Mahomes and Allen. No matter how mediocre Keizer might be, Kelce makes this easy. 

Advantage: Chiefs

Wide Receiver:

Bills – Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown, Isaiah Mckenzie and Gabriel Davis 

Chiefs – Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle 

While the hopeful return of Sammy Watkins this week does make a big difference for the Chiefs’ wide receivers, the Bills have a clear advantage. Diggs has been unreal and Cole Beasley though batling injury is one of the most valuable slot receivers in the game. John Brown and Isaiah Mckenzie are both capable of breaking a big play and Gabriel Davis had 600 yards and 7 TDs in 2020. Yes, Tyreek Hill is a true game-breaker, but the rest of the Chiefs wide receivers do not quite stand up to the Bills. 

Advantage: Bills

Offensive Line:

Bills – Daryl Williams, Jon Feliciano, Mitch Morse, Ike Boettger and Dion Dawkins

Chiefs – Eric Fisher, Nick Allegretti, Austin Rieter, Andrew Wylie and Mike Remmers

Part of the success story of the Bills is their offensive line being one of the better units on their team. While none of their line stands out as a true anchor or dominant player, there is no weak link. They are all solid players that have been able to provide enough time for Allen to put up big numbers.

For the Chiefs, the offensive line has been decimated by injury and struggled all season long because of it. This is a clear risk for Mahomes if the offensive line cannot handle the pass rush or move the ball on the ground. 

Advantage: Bills

Defensive Line:

Bills – Jerry Hughes, Ed Oliver, Vernon Butler,Mario Addison, Trent Murphy and A.J. Epenesa

Chiefs – Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Alex Okafor, Mike Danna and Tershawn Wharton

It’s no secret that both lines have struggled to generate consistent pass rush all season long. The Bills especially have struggled to rush the passer and defend the run, key players in Ed Oliver and Vernon Butler have struggled. Similarly, the Chiefs have had disappointing seasons from everyone on their defensive line not named Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi.

However, the Chiefs have done well against the run lately and can make big plays when necessary. Chris Jones just raises the ceiling of the whole unit, interior pressure is so valuable. 

Advantage: Chiefs

Linebackers:

Bills – Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and AJ Klien

Chiefs – Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson and Ben Niemann 

As surprising as it may seem to some Chiefs fans Anthony Hitchens has had a nice season for his standards, 2020 has been his best season as a Chief. Adding Wilson back from injury was also a nice pick up for the defense of Kansas City. The Bills linebackers have struggled against the run all season long, all 3 have a PFF run-defense grade below 54. While better in coverage Milano and Edmunds have struggled there as well. 

Advantage: Chiefs

Cornerbacks:

Bills – Tre’Davious White, Josh Norman and Taron Johnson

Chiefs – L’Jarius Sneed, Baushaud Breeland, Charvarious Ward

The signing of Josh Norman has really paid off for Buffalo after having several down seasons since Carolina he has really rounded back into form. Tre’Davious White has been one of the better players at his position since being drafted and Johnson is a decent player. The Chiefs’ corner group has surprisingly developed into a strength this season with the emergence of Sneed.

The Chiefs really benefit from having no weak player among their corners (all top 50 out of 122 at their position). Though the Chiefs may not have a true lockdown number one corner their strength is their depth. The Bills corners just have a higher ceiling overall though. White and Noman are better than anything the Chiefs can put on the perimeter. 

Advantage: Bills

Safeties:

Bills – Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde

Chiefs – Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorenson

The safety tandem of the Bills might be the best in the league. Poyer and Hyde are truly the anchors of their defense. Poyer is a versatile player that the Bills love to use as a blitzer as well and Hyde plays well in coverage. Tyrann Mathieu’s versatility makes him invaluable to Kansas City’s defense, he allows the secondary to disguise coverages and blitzes. Despite Daniel Sorenson’s ultimate clutch gene, he still can be a liability deep. 

Advantage: Bills

Special Teams:

Bills – Tyler Bass,  Corey Bojorquez and Andre Roberts

Chiefs – Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend and Mecole Hardman

Tyler Bass has been solid this year making 82% of his field goals and 92% of his extra points. Corey Bojorquez is PFF’s 14th ranked punter and Andre Roberts has been solid as a returner. Harrison Butker has made 92% of field goals this season while struggling with extra points at 88%. Tommy Townsend is ranked 9th by PFF and Mecole Hardman tends to be a boom or bust in the return game with a punt return for a TD. 

Advantage: Chiefs 

Final Count

Bills: 4

Chiefs: 6 

Though the Chiefs seem to have the roster advantage headed into the AFC championship, it’s close. The Bills are a great team who has strengths in some of the most important positions in football: wide receiver, defensive back, and quarterback.

Kansas City’s defense relies on pressure to elevate their coverage unit and their offense is inevitable with Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill. It will take a total team effort from the Chiefs to head to Tampa.

Leave a Reply