The Chiefs will likely be enjoying of their third consecutive AFC championship sport once they host the Payments on Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS). The reigning champions and convention prime seed are two wins away from repeating in Tremendous Bowl 55.
Kansas Metropolis is within the playoffs for a sixth straight season. In the meantime, second-seeded Buffalo is within the playoffs for the third time in 4 seasons after breaking an 18-year drought in 2017.
The Chiefs final misplaced within the playoffs two years in the past towards Tom Brady’s Patriots. Will Josh Allen’s Payments ship the identical end in Arrowhead Stadium, recent off their first two playoff wins in 25 seasons?
Assuming Patrick Mahomes returns from the top/neck harm that stored him out late of the Chiefs’ 22-17 win over the Browns within the divisional spherical, it will likely be a battle of passing quarterback heavyweights between him and Allen.
When the groups met in Week 6 of the common season, the Chiefs received 26-17.
This is how Buffalo and Kansas Metropolis stack up towards one another in all three phases.
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Payments vs. Chiefs picks, predictions
Payments operating sport vs. Chiefs run protection
The Payments had the No. 20 dashing assault within the NFL in 2020, getting slightly higher down the stretch and getting a lift from the legs of Allen, who leads the workforce in dashing to this point within the playoffs. The Chiefs ranked No. 21 towards the run in the course of the common season. The Payments managed solely 32 yards on 16 makes an attempt towards the Ravens within the divisional spherical. The Chiefs gave up 112 to the Browns, at a clip of 5.1 yards per carry.
Buffalo and Kansas Metropolis each are likely to abandon the run when it is not working early. The Payments are comfy protecting the ball in Allen’s arms, figuring out that he can usually be their finest rusher together with his legs. However they’re right down to Devin Singletary to belief within the conventional assault with rookie operating again Zack Moss finished for the season together with his ankle harm.
The Payments aren’t the perfect ball-control workforce and will not be grinding away on the Chiefs’ greatest weaknesses. They are going to take the method of being aggressive with Allen to the purpose he can attempt to outduel Mahomes in a high-scoring affair. Benefit: Chiefs
Chiefs operating sport vs. Payments run protection
The Chiefs aren’t referred to as a operating workforce, both, however they completed within the higher half of the league, rating No. 16 and averaged a wholesome 4.5 yards per carry. The Payments ranked No. 17 towards the run in the course of the common season. That was third-worst amongst playoffs groups behind the Titans and Chiefs.
There’s an opportunity rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns, but when not, the Chiefs could be nice pounding away with Darrel Williams, who wanted solely 13 carries to get 78 of his workforce’s 123 yards towards the Browns, outproducing Nick Chubb. Within the first assembly, the Chiefs ran for 245 yards, with Edwards-Helaire getting 161 of them. Due to the operating sport having a lot success to enrich Mahomes, they held the ball for practically 38 minutes.
The Payments held their very own towards the Ravens’ mighty dashing assault, however they nonetheless gave up 150 yards to principally Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s backs. Earlier than then, the Colts ran for 163 yards off 30 makes an attempt within the wild-card assembly. Edwards-Helaire and Williams might be handfuls with hard-charging between the tackles. The operating of Mahomes and backup Chad Henne had been well timed elements towards the Browns. The Chiefs’ offensive line has finished job adjusting to harm and is imposing its will once more. Benefit: Chiefs
Payments passing sport vs. Chiefs cross protection
The Payments weren’t far behind the Chiefs in prolific passing in the course of the common season, ending two spots decrease at No. 3. They draw the No. 14 cross protection right here. The Chiefs have not gotten a number of sacks (32) however they characteristic good inside-outside strain with Chris Jones and Frank Clark in entrance of a flexible playmaking secondary led by Tyrann Mathieu. The Chiefs contained the massive performs from Stefon Diggs and others in Week 6 however had their greatest (typical) struggles within the pink zone.
The Chiefs can throw completely different protection and strain appears at Allen. These had been efficient in protecting him off-balance within the first assembly. They will make the center of the sphere daunting and be extra calculated with their blitzes figuring out his success charge towards them.
Allen was nice towards the Colts and shaky towards the Ravens. He may even see the center coated usually, however he ought to do extra downfield injury this week. The Payments additionally ought to have some big-play confidence after a number of the Browns’ success at wideout towards the Chiefs final week. Benefit: Payments
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Chiefs passing sport vs. Payments cross protection
The Chiefs’ top-ranked passing offense will attempt to keep sizzling towards the No. 13 cross protection. They face an Payments inconsistent cross rush that is not significantly better than the one they noticed from the shaky Browns final week.
The Payments had a number of lapses in protection towards the Ravens final week and had been lucky that Jackson and Tyler Huntley weren’t in a position to take benefit. The identical will not occur with Mahomes, so prime cornerback Tre’Davious White wants extra secondary assist, particularly inside from nickel again Taron Johnson and security Micah Hyde when the Chiefs unfold the sphere.
The Payments battle greater than most groups to cowl high-quality tight ends and Travis Kelce has been the perfect of the perfect this season. He burned them for 5 catches, 65 yards and two TDs in Week 6. Tyreek Hill was restricted to solely 20 yards receiving in Week 6 because the Payments labored to remove the massive play, however the Chiefs can scheme him open for deep photographs or possibilities to run into open subject after brief passes. When Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are the on the sphere with Kelce and Hill, the Payments merely can’t put out the correct mixture of measurement, velocity and quickness to sluggish all of them down for Mahomes. Benefit: Chiefs
The Chiefs are likely to push all the correct buttons with their personnel utilization and play calling. Hill and Mecole Hardman present wrinkles within the operating sport. The protection has developed higher depth within the entrance seven, offering extra creativity there, too. The Payments have their model of occasional huge playmakers in large receivers Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie. In addition they have been on a stretch of scoring defensively. The Payments have the boldness however the Chiefs are fully unflappable. Benefit: Chiefs
The Chiefs and Payments each have good kickoff return video games with Hardman and Andre Roberts, respectively. The Payments are slightly higher at fielding punts they usually have the punter edge with Corey Bojorquez vs. Tommy Townsend. The Chiefs have a cash kicker in Harrison Butker with good vary, however rookie Tyler Bass is headed to an extended profession together with his accuracy in more durable situations, too. Benefit: Payments
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Reid is on fireplace teaching together with his decision-making and motivation. Bieniemy and Steve Spanguolo are arising with the perfect complementary ideas offensive and defensively. Reid’s former mentee Sean McDermott can also be calling the correct photographs for his workforce, with large schematic assist from coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier. McDermott has been a rising star since getting the Payments’ gig, however Reid has larger big-game expertise and the ring. Benefit: Chiefs
Mahomes and the Chiefs wish to go down as one of many league’s all-time nice groups and work to construct a dynasty with a follow-up Tremendous Bowl victory. The Payments have good mojo, too, as they attempt to restore the Tremendous Bowl glory days with Allen. They’ve felt like they’ve gotten higher all season and can take a fearless swing as underdogs. However the Chiefs are the brand new Patriots within the AFC with their intimidation issue and constant execution in huge moments. Benefit: Chiefs
AFC championship sport prediction
The Chiefs (-3, 54 o/u) match up very properly towards the Payments as a result of their run protection will not get exploited as a lot as their passing offense will not be slowed down a lot. Allen might attempt to play Mahomes’ big-armed, athletic sport, however Mahomes is healthier performing towards a lesser diploma of inauspicious. Kelce and the operating sport get some assist from Hill or Hardman on a homer run, whereas Allen faces intense strain in a one-dimensional assault whereas enjoying catch-up. The Chiefs flip the script and restrict the time Allen is on the sphere whereas they flip in one other full effort to raise up Mahomes.
Chiefs win 30-17 and canopy the unfold.