1. Two mobile quarterbacks
Last week it was Ravens' quarterback Lamar Jackson. This week it's Kansas City's quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The quest for who will be the last standing mobile quarterback rolls on. It's another big stage for two young, dual-threat quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes already has a Super Bowl ring and Allen is one win away from his first Super Bowl appearance as an NFL quarterback.
The two can sling a beautiful ball 40 yards down the field and rip defenses apart as they scramble for first downs. They are two of the most athletically gifted players in the NFL and are a part of the new wave of quarterbacks who can beat you in multiple ways.
Allen has had a season to remember by taking his game to the next level breaking eight franchise records in his third NFL season. During the regular season, the two both passed for more than 4,500 yards, combined for 75 passing touchdowns and 786 completions, had passer ratings above 107, completed more than 66 percent of their passes and combined for 729 rushing yards.
"When it all comes down to it, it's going to be Allen vs. Mahomes," NFL Network's Peter Schrager shared as he previewed the matchup. "It's funny because Josh Allen when he got in the league it was like his arm is pretty good, it's almost as good as Mahomes. And every time Josh Allen makes one of these crazy off-position passes where he whips it, everyone says it almost looks Mahomesian. He's constantly in the shadow of Mahomes. It's like Josh Allen, he's the next Mahomes. How about he might be better than Mahomes?"
Mahomes won the Week 6 bout against Allen, but we will see what quarterback is moving on to the biggest stage in football.
2. Patrick Mahomes' status
If you watched Sunday's Browns vs. Chiefs game, caught the highlights or have been on social media you know what happened to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. During the third quarter, Mahomes took the ball himself on a 3rd-and-1 play for no gain and hit his head on the ground as he was brought down. The QB struggled to get up and eventually went into the locker room where he was ruled out for the rest of the game and entered the concussion protocol. In order to be cleared to play, Mahomes must clear the five steps of the NFL's concussion protocol.
Here are the NFL's five phases of return-to-participation protocol:
1. Symptom limited activity
2. Aerobic exercise
3. Football specific exercise
4. Club-based non-contact training drills
5. Full football activity/clearance
After the game, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid detailed Mahomes' status.
"He got hit in the back of the head and kind of knocked the wind out of him and everything else with it," Reid explained. "So we took him out. He's doing great right now, which is a real positive as we looked at this. [He] passed all the deals that he needed to pass. We'll see where it goes from here."
3. Defenses are stepping up
During the regular season, the Bills ranked second in the NFL averaging 31.3 point per game and the Chiefs were sixth averaging 29.6 points per game. The two teams are known for their high-powered offenses this season, but don't count their defenses out. In the divisional round, for each team, it was the defense who made the victory possible.
Kansas City's defense held the Browns to just 17 points after they averaged 25.5 points per game during the regular season. They intercepted Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield once and held him to a 74.6 passer rating. When Cleveland had a chance to cut the lead to 10 during the second quarter, safety Daniel Sorensen forced a fumble through the end zone resulting in a touchback.
Buffalo's defense held an offense that was averaging 29.3 points per game to just 3 points. It was the Ravens' lowest point total of the season. The Bills sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson four times, had eight quarterback hits and blitzed at a rate of 41.5% according to Next Gen Stats. Defensive lineman Jerry Hughes led the group with two sacks and a team-high seven pressures per Next Gen Stats. When Baltimore was in striking distance and had a chance to tie the game, Jackson was picked off on a 3rd-and-goal by cornerback Taron Johnson who took it 101 yards to the house for a pick six.
On NFL Network's Good Morning Football, host Peter Schrager thought Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserved credit for the win.
"How about the defense for the Bills - just absolutely suffocating," Schrager said. "Any opportunity that the Ravens had to get going it felt like the Bills had an answer. We know the pick six and that was everything, that was the game changer. It felt like the Ravens were just knocking on the door to take the big lead or at least tie the game. Instead, a total switch.
"The entire game, Lamar was just completely bottled up. I'd point to the defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, 61 years old, has been a head coach in this league, has been a defensive coordinator in this league, has been around a long, long time. All season long I've been hearing out of Buffalo, Leslie's having quite a season too. We're all talking about [Brian] Daboll and Brandon Staley from the Rams. Buffalo has a defense that doesn't quit, and they're coached by a beloved NFL coordinator."
4. A Week 6 rematch
Buffalo hosted Kansas City in a Week 6 matchup earlier this season where the Bills fell to the Chiefs 26-17. The Bills offense had a hard time getting going and the defense couldn't stop Kansas City's stable of weapons. Buffalo's 17 points came on quarterback Josh Allen's worst game of the season when you look at the statistics.
Allen completed 51.9 percent of his passes for 122 yards and rushed for 42 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and one interception, posting a 73.4 passer rating. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs had six catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, which led the receiver group. Buffalo's defense limited Kansas City just enough to give the offense a chance in the fourth quarter. The Bills scored a touchdown in the final quarter to cut the Chiefs lead to just six with 6:34 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Chiefs kicked a field goal on the next possession and Allen threw an interception on the final Bills drive.
The Chiefs totaled 466 yards on offense — 245 yards on the ground and 221 yards in the air. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 80.8 percent of his passes for 225 yards. Mahomes threw for two touchdowns and had a 128.4 passer rating. Clyde Edwards-Helaire led running backs with 26 carries for 161 rushing yards and Demarcus Robinson led receivers with five catches for 69 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce had five catches for 65 yards and scored two touchdowns.
After the game, Allen said the team would learn from their mistakes.
"We turned it on a little too late there obviously," Allen said. "Seventeen points is not going to cut in this league. It didn't matter who we played. If that's how we play we're going to struggle to win games so it is what it is right now, we will learn from this. I'm actually super frustrated with myself and how I performed. I can't do that to this team so you know I've got to be better and I will be better."
Since that Week 6 loss, the Bills have only lost one game. They'll travel to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs, but the team is comfortable on the road. Bills head coach Sean McDermott is 12-4 in his last two regular seasons on the road. We will see if he can grab his first road playoff win on Sunday.
5. The Andy Reid coaching tree
Bills head coach Sean McDermott and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid go way back. McDermott and Reid began working together for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 — Reid was the head coach of the Eagles and McDermott was the assistant to the head coach. The two shared 12 seasons with the Eagles before McDermott moved onto Carolina where he was hired as their defensive coordinator. During his time in Philadelphia, McDermott worked in various roles including secondary coach, linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.
McDermott has shared multiple times that many things he has learned and uses as a head coach come from Reid.
"I mean he's probably my biggest, professionally, mentor in the business," McDermott said before their Week 6 matchup. "I think the biggest thing I learned from Andy [Reid] is when he got the job in Philadelphia he had a plan and a vision. A lot of people have a vision for where they want to go, but the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month plan to accomplish that vision I think was probably the biggest thing, how to execute that and adjust as need be. And just overall what they've done building a world champion football team and continuing to add to it. I think that speaks for itself."
Reid heads up a coaching tree that has some big names including head coaches John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera and Matt Nagy.