The Kansas City Chiefs prepare to face the Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills in an AFC Divisional Playoff Rematch, who are the players to look for in this great matchup?
The game of the week takes place in Kansas City yet again, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs play football for the third straight regular season and it might be the best of this trilogy. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are two of the favorites to win the Most Valuable Player award, new additions on both teams are making waves, and the Bills are looking for revenge after another playoff loss to the Chiefs.
With another great matchup between great teams, some players are going to need to have big games to get a win. Without naming the big names like Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, Patrick Mahomes, or Travis Kelce, here are a few players for Kansas City who should be watched on Sunday afternoon.
When Willie Gay Jr was suspended after Week Two, most Chiefs fans were extremely worried about how good the defense was going to be without him. Gay had been playing great football next to Nick Bolton and had helped the Chiefs have one of the best rush defenses in the league.
Harris has been able to fill the role of Gay pretty well, he has gone sideline to sideline for many of these games, but he’ll be needed to help contain the elusiveness of Josh Allen. He’ll be tasked with having his eyes in the backfield on pass plays and possibly some coverage on the tight end Dawson Knox.
Watch to see how the Bills try to attack Harris with some of the quarterback-designed runs and draw plays as Nick Bolton and he switch roles. Harris has been good and will be good quality depth after Gay comes back, but with the Bills coming and spreading the ball around, watch for them to target a zone or matchup with Harris near the pass catcher.
MVS has quietly been one of the best receivers for the Chiefs, he and Patrick Mahomes have been playing very solid football and has nine receptions over the past two games. Valdez-Scantling may prove to be super important against the Bills, the Bills run zone defense more than 70% of the time and the Chiefs will have a lot of short routes open.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and MVS will have a lot of open space to operate in the Bill’s Zone coverage, but MVS should feast with his speed after the catch. Where JuJu would make tough catches and physical plays after the catch, MVS can hit his full speed after three steps and get some extra yards.
Watch for MVS to get a lot of extra yards after the catch and to take some defenders away from the other wide receivers as the game goes on. I do think JuJu Smith-Schuster will also have a fairly big game if the Bills continue to play a soft zone defense without their starting safeties. For more coverage on the MVS-Mahomes connection, you find an article here to see a good film breakdown of what MVS has brought to the Chiefs’ offense.
The Chiefs finally gave the definitive update for Trent McDuffie’s status this week, he’s still not 100% ready to come back from Injured Reserve. So that means Jaylen Watson will bill starting for the fifth consecutive week for Kansas City, and the former seventh-round rookie has been very impressive.
Watson has faced Mike Williams, Mike Evans, and Davonte Adams over his time as the starter, but he had been sharing the responsibility with Rashad Fenton and Fenton is now not playing this week. Watson and fourth-round rookie Joshua Williams will be sharing the responsibility to go against Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs.
Watson has been fantastic and has stepped into a starting corner role that he might never have to relinquish and a big game against Stefon Diggs might help solidify his starting role going forward.
I bet most people thought I would put Jerick McKinnon here, the veteran running back helped to spark the Chiefs’ offense last week with a 33-yard scamper against the Raiders. But I think Pacheco might be due for a big game on the ground as well as the air, Pacheco has been used as a third-down running back, and watch for him to have some big catches.
Pacheco has been seen as a project and possibly the future running back for the Chiefs, but he has been impressive early for the Chiefs, averaging about four yards per touch. The Bills have a very aggressive pass rush and they may not pay attention to a back slipping out of the backfield. Pacheco could take some of those short passes for big gains due to his running style and his elusiveness. If Clyde Edwards-Helaire struggles early watch for Pacheco to have a big game behind Creed Humphrey, Joe Thuney, and Trey Smith.