1. Four keys for a Bills victory in the AFC Championship game via NFL Network's Willie McGinist
The Bills will be playing in their first AFC Championship game since they beat the Chiefs 30-13 in 1993. Even though this will be a rematch of a Week 6 meeting between the two teams, both the Bills and the Chiefs are vastly different since the last time they played one another. On NFL Network's Total Access on Wednesday, former NFL Linebacker Willie McGinest went through his four keys to the game for the Buffalo Bills against the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Designed runs for Josh Allen: "It starts with Josh Allen; we know how athletic he is. Use your legs when a play is not there down the field. Don't force the ball, scramble, and make big plays. You're going to have these design runs, they're going to be built in. When he can do this, when you can keep the defense off-balance, they have access. Josh Allen, use your legs."
- Limit half of Chiefs red zone possessions to field goals: "Now we know Kansas City is a powerful, lethal team, and they will get in the red zone. Once they get in the red zone limit them to field goals at least 50 percent of the time. Don't let them score touchdowns every time they get in the red zone because [Patrick Mahomes] and the arsenal he has at his disposal can get into the end zone and quickly. When they get down there, make them kick some field goals."
- Pressure Patrick Mahomes with 4 or 5 pass rushers: "Four to five rushers, you got to be able to create pressure in the pocket with the front four, and sometimes with the linebacker. When the back stays in, hug him and get at the quarterback."
- Edmunds must be able to defend Kelce 1-on-1: "Tremaine Edmunds, you see [Travis Kelce], Leslie Frazier is going to ask him to cover him. Sometimes man-to-man when he gets into these blitzes in one-on-one situations. You gotta be able to take the big onus of slowing down and stopping Travis Kelce in the passing game. You're athletic, you're big, you're fast, you're good in space. Not a lot, but sometimes you're gonna have to slow Kelce down one-on-one, and you got to make that happen."
2. Why Stefon Diggs will be a mismatch to watch on Championship Sunday
Throughout the regular season, defenses couldn't seem to find ways to slow down Stefon Diggs and in the postseason, not much has changed. Diggs has a combined 14 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns this postseason - and he leads the league in all three statistics. Here's why NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund thinks Stefon Diggs is the biggest mismatch in Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
Mismatch to watch: Buffalo WR Stefon Diggs vs. Kansas City's banged-up secondary.
In the 2020 Chiefs' lone defeat with their starters playing -- I know they lost in Week 17, but we need to focus on the most relevant data that'll drive the probable results in this one -- Kansas City lost the third-down battle against the Raiders. Yes, Bashaud Breeland snagged a first-quarter pick on the money down, but otherwise, Derek Carr had his way with K.C.'s defense. According to Next Gen Stats, Carr completed 8 of 12 third-down passes for 205 yards (16.9 yards per attempt) and a touchdown, posting a 102.8 passer rating. This included a pair of bombs -- 46- and 72-yard gains -- to rookie burner Henry Ruggs III, as well as a 42-yard connection with Hunter Renfrow. Since 2018, big plays have been one of the keys to beating the Chiefs. With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, six of the Chiefs' nine losses over the past three seasons have come when their opponents log more big plays (rushes of 10-plus yards, passes of 20-plus yards). With Breeland and fellow cornerback Rashad Fenton both dealing with health issues, K.C. could definitely have trouble containing Buffalo's talented receiving corps, particularly when it comes to the first-team All-Pro in the group.
Diggs has been a revelation in Year 1 with the Bills, leading the league in catches (127) and receiving yards (1,535). He could create the kind of mismatches that break the game open for Buffalo -- especially in the red zone, where the Chiefs' defense ranked dead last during the regular season. One of the things that makes Diggs so difficult to defend is his versatility. He has 100-plus receiving yards on five different routes, per NGS, as well as one or more touchdowns on eight different routes. He also ranks in the top five in yards on two different routes this season -- hitch (537 yards) and out (203 yards) -- with the most receptions in the NFL on hitch routes (54). Looking at all of Diggs' targets, 52.2 percent have been outside the numbers, where he's netted the most receptions (71) and yards (866) in the NFL (including the playoffs), with six touchdowns for good measure.
3. Bills divisional-round win over the Ravens makes NBC history
The Bills 17-3 win over the Ravens in last week's divisional round of the playoffs brought in ratings for NBC that the network hasn't seen from a Saturday prime time audience in four years.
The broadcast averaged 27.1 million viewers across NBC and other streaming platforms. That marks NBC's most-viewed Saturday prime time show since the Lions-Seahawks 2016 Wild Card game. It was also the most-watched Saturday prime time show on any network since the Titans-Ravens divisional playoff game on January 11, 2020.
The Ravens-Bills matchup was also the most-streamed NBC divisional round playoff game ever. According to NBC, "Ravens-Bills delivered an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 808,000 viewers across NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL digital platforms, Ravens and Bills mobile properties, and Verizon Media mobile properties – ranking as the most-streamed NBC NFL Divisional Playoff game ever. The game's streaming audience is also the second-largest ever for an NBC NFL Playoff game, excluding Super Bowls, trailing only last week's Browns-Steelers Wild Card matchup."
This is not the first time this season that the Bills have brought record ratings to TV markets. The week 16 Bills-Patriots Monday Night Football game on ESPN set a record as the Buffalo market's highest-rated MNF game during the ESPN era.