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Shuffling Off to Buffalo

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On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs will play their first road playoff game in the Patrick Mahomes era. He’ll face Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in a game that could change trajectories for both future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

It had to happen eventually. Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes will take his 12-3 postseason record to Buffalo to dual Josh Allen. The Bills quarterback enters this high-profile matchup with a 5-4 postseason record.  The fan base will debate who is better after the Divisional Round game on Sunday, but on paper, Mahomes, with two Super Bowl wins, has the edge.

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Let me be clear: I think Josh Allen is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, but he’s never beaten Mahomes in the postseason. He’s 0-2 against KC’s quarterback, but both those losses occurred in Kansas City. Now Allen can turn the table on Mahomes with a playoff win at home.

Kansas City enters the game healthy, but the Bills lost their punter, Sam Martin (Hamstring), and two key defensive players to an already beat-up defense. In defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, the Bills paid a heavy price. Already thin at linebacker, Terrel Bernard was carted off the field with a severe leg injury, and Cornerback Taron Johnson was evaluated for a concussion if that wasn’t bad enough for the Bills Linebacker Baylon Spector (back) and Cornerback Christian Benford (knee) are going to be questionable for Sunday.

With the short work week, the Bills will rely on Allen, who has everything to win and lose in hosting Mahomes and the Chiefs. If he wins, the narrative changes, and if he gets the Bills to a Super Bowl, it will elevate his career to the next level.

However, if Mahomes adds another notch to his post-season resume on the road Sunday, the narrative solidifies he’s the best quarterback in the playoffs.

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Earlier this season, the Bills defeated the Chiefs 20-17 at Arrowhead. However, despite the Kadarius Toney offsides that negated an electric game-winning play, Kansas City was without Running Back Isiah Pacheco, Linebacker Drue Tranquill, and Left Tackle Donovan Smith. All three will be ready on Saturday.

The Chiefs will have two extra days of rest, and after their Saturday night Wild Card win over the Miami Dolphins, they should be fresh and be able to handle the cold confines of Highmark Stadium. Temperatures will be in the high teens at kick-off, with 11-15 MPH winds.

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The weather conditions won’t phase either quarterback. Now, if it were snowing, I’d give the edge to Mahomes, but in the conditions expected Sunday, neither quarterback will have any offensive limitations.

The key for both quarterbacks will be their ability to break down opposing defenses. The Chiefs are one of the best units in the NFL. They held Buffalo to twenty points in their game earlier this year, and though they struggled in the first quarter, they shut down the Bills offense in the second half.

It was a mistake-riddled game for Mahomes, and even with the miscues, the Chiefs had a chance to tie or win the game in the last two minutes. Generally, Mahomes excels in those situations, but that was not the case this season.

However, the shortcomings of the Chiefs offense appear to have been corrected with wins over the Bengals and Dolphins. Mahomes has defeated some of the demons that plagued this offense earlier this season. If their simplification is complete, Mahomes should win his first road playoff game of his career.

Yet, Allen is unique as well, and if the Chiefs defense can’t contain him in the pocket and stop his legs where he finds chunk yards, it could be an actual shootout in Buffalo.

We have plenty of time to debate this matchup, but at first glance, this is the best path for Kansas City to play in their sixth consecutive AFC Title game.

This game will look different, but Chiefs fans aren’t bet against Mahomes – just like Bills fans aren’t going to bet against Allen.

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