Weekend Look Ahead

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7 things to watch for in Bills vs. Chiefs | Week 6

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1. An air it out matchup

Although the Bills and Chiefs are two very good teams, the focus will be on the two quarterbacks on Monday. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes ranks second and fifth in the AFC in passer rating. The two signal callers also rank second and fourth in the league in passing yards. Allen has accumulated 1,589 yards through the air with Mahomes close behind with 1,474.

And come the fourth quarter things could get even more interesting if it's a close game. That's because Allen and Mahomes' passer ratings both elevate in the game's final frame.

Allen's passer rating jumps to 139.2 in the fourth quarter good for second-highest in the league. Mahomes ranks sixth in the NFL with a mark of 114.9.

Most important, Allen and Mahomes have accounted for 17 and 15 touchdowns respectively this season, good for second and third most in the league. Per NFL Media Research it's the most combined touchdowns between two quarterback opponents entering the sixth game of the season since the NFL merger.

With that kind of scoring production outside observers believe the game could be decided by who has the ball last.

2. No Bell to worry about

The Chiefs wound up being the team that free agent RB Le'Veon Bell ultimately chose this week, agreeing to a one-year deal on Thursday. The Bills were one of three teams on Bell's list of finalists.

Bell indicated his priority was to win a championship in signing with Kansas City.

Kansas City hasn't been bad running the ball, but they have had a tough go of it in short yardage, an area where Bell (6-1, 225) can help.

Bell will be motivated to prove he's still a productive back in this league after a horrible run with the Jets where his yards per carry average was a full yard less (3.3) than what it was during his time in Pittsburgh (4.3).

The Bills, however, will not have to worry about Bell in their matchup with the Chiefs on Monday night because the Chiefs newest back will still be working through a six-day COVID testing protocol window.

So he won't be able to practice or suit up for the Chiefs until the middle of next week at the earliest.

3. Time to be cover lovers

The Las Vegas Raiders may have provided a way to at least slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. In the second half of their upset win at Kansas City, the Raiders used a three-man rush with a spy on Mahomes and dropped seven players into coverage.

Mahomes had more time to throw, but his production went down. According to Next Gen Stats, Mahomes had an extra second on average to hold the ball before attempting a pass last Sunday than he had in his first four starts this season.

But his passer rating was a mere 70.2 last week compared to a combined 113.9 over the Chiefs' first four games. Committing more players to coverage appeared to close down options for Mahomes as the Chiefs managed just a single touchdown in the second half.

Mahomes completion percentage under pressure is 71 percent. Against just three or four pass rushers it's just under 62 percent according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"There are three teams that played predominantly zone coverage against the Chiefs and have slowed them down and made them a little less efficient," said NFL Films Greg Cosell in his weekly appearance on 'One Bills Live.' "Patrick Mahomes is still going to throw for a lot of yards. He threw for 340 against the Raiders. But the Chargers played predominantly zone, the Patriots did too and they're not a big zone team. And the Raiders played a ton of zone. You're trying to make sure you play with great eye discipline, leverage and you do not allow the Chiefs receivers to get over the top of you."

Will Buffalo employ a similar tactic at times?

Perhaps.

And what might the Chiefs do to slow down Josh Allen and Buffalo's passing game? Will they copy what the Titans did last Tuesday?

"I think what you do is you work off a player and team's strengths and you try to minimize it," said Cosell. "With Josh Allen the Titans played zone coverage on more than 75 percent of his drop backs and there was disguise and late movement to get into their coverages. Josh had made big, explosive plays the first four weeks, so they only rushed three, sometimes four and without a run game they had no big plays on offense."

Buffalo's longest play from scrimmage last week covered 34 yards and it was a run play by TJ Yeldon.

4. Another hundy for Diggs?

Stefon Diggs has put together three 100-yard receiving games together in the season's first five weeks and leads the AFC in receiving yards with 509 on the season.

Buffalo's opponents have found it supremely difficult to neutralize the elite route runner.

Kansas City's pass defense, which ranks sixth in the NFL, is the second-best pass defense he'll face next to the Rams (2nd). The Chiefs have only surrendered 100-yard receiving days to two receivers this season.

Houston's Will Fuller put up 112 receiving yards in the opener and Las Vegas' Henry Ruggs had 118 yards last week. So it would appear that the speed receives present the most problems.

Diggs is capable of going deep as seen in games against Miami and Las Vegas, and he leads all players
with 18 receptions and 741 receiving yards on deep passes since 2019 according to NFL Media Research. This season he's largely worked the intermediate routes for most of his production this season.

If Diggs reaches the century mark again on Monday evening, he'll become the fourth Bill in team history with three straight 100-yard games and the first since Eric Moulds in 2000.

5. Big play opportunities

Buffalo has been near the top of the league with 20-plus yard pass plays. Tied for fourth in the league with 23 plays of 20 yards or more, they also rank sixth in the NFL with six plays of 40 yards or more.

If the Bills offensive line can provide Josh Allen with time, the passing game could get some chunk plays on the Chiefs secondary. Even if Kansas City adopts some of the Titans' defensive tactics, they've been susceptible to big plays. Through five games they've given up six plays of 40-plus yards, which is tied for third most surrendered this season.

"A big part of the Chiefs problems last week on defense was Derek Carr showed a willingness to throw the ball down the field," said SB Nation Chiefs beat reporter Pete Sweeney in an appearance on 'One Bills Live' this week. "That's what the Chiefs are running into this week again because we know that Josh Allen isn't afraid to throw the ball down the field."

The Chiefs offense is certainly capable of the big play as well, but Buffalo has allowed just one play of more than 40 yards all season.

6. A game to make ground gains

The Bills are still trying to get their rushing attack on track. Head coach Sean McDermott addressed it specifically in his comments after Tuesday night's game and this week leading up to the matchup with the Chiefs.

"Looking at our run game they're playing cover two and we've got to be able to run the football against cover two and get more than three yards," said McDermott.

Opposing defenses are giving Buffalo's explosive passing game it's respect by committing more defenders to coverage, so running the ball against fronts that aren't stacking the box is critical to keeping opponents off balance.

"I think we can be better in a lot of areas that being one of them, our ability to run the football," said McDermott. "So we've got to be able to get a hat on a hat with people in the run game. Even with our pass game (flourishing) we've got to be able to be balanced, as much as we as we can to win games."

Monday might present as good a chance as any to get the run game in gear. Kansas City is giving up more than 157 yards a game on the ground, which ranks 29th in the league. Chiefs opponents are averaging a fat five yards per carry against them. Only four NFL clubs give up more yards per carry than Kansas City.

Scroll through to see the best photos from Buffalo's practice as they prepare for Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

7. Travis Kelce concerns?

One of the most consistent weapons in Kansas City's offense, TE Travis Kelce is a handful for just about any pass defense in the league. For the Bills he'll be of particular concern if they're again without Matt Milano for Monday's game.

Travis Kelce ranks second among all tight ends in receptions with 32 on the season and is tops in receiving yards among tight ends with 405.

The Bills have had their share of problems facing pass catching tight ends this season surrendering 39 receptions and 418 yards. According to NFL Media Research both of those figures are league highs. He also leads all NFL tight ends with 196 yards after the catch so far this season.

"He's a very crafty, very savvy veteran who has played in a lot of big games," said Jordan Poyer, who figures to draw Kelce as a coverage assignment at times. "He's got a very strong catch radius. He runs every route in the book. We have to play physical and understand his stem and where he's lining up. He's definitely a guy we have highlighted in terms of where he's going to be."

Buffalo is hoping to hold Kelce to more of his previous stat lines against the Bills.

In three career games versus the Bills, Kelce averages three receptions and 42 yards. He has one touchdown in those three appearances against Buffalo.

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