The Five Biggest Takeaways From the Bills’ Win Over the Chiefs

I’m hoping Tom Brady used to be staring at Bills-Chiefs on Sunday. Two weeks in the past, the 45-year-old Buccaneers quarterback lodged a criticism about the high quality of soccer he have been seeing early in the 2022 NFL season. It wasn’t simply the ramblings of a cranky outdated guy caught in a foul offense himself—it’s a take that’s additionally been echoed through enthusiasts.

The numbers again up Brady’s rivalry that the soccer hasn’t been nice this season. Scoring is down for a 2d consecutive yr, passing numbers are down throughout the board as offenses attempt to alter to defenses higher supplied to forestall the passing recreation, and offensive play has in large part been laborious to observe.

But Buffalo’s 24-20 win on Sunday used to be a welcome respite from all that sloppy ball. Sure, the recreation won’t have absolutely quenched the public’s thirst for scoring—the over/beneath used to be set at 54 issues—however the high quality of play used to be plain. And given the remainder of the effects we noticed round the league this week, it used to be transparent that we had been staring at the NFL’s two best possible groups. Apologies to the 6-0 Eagles, however even enthusiasts in Philadelphia have to understand that everyone else is vying for 1/3. The recreation simply appears to be like other.

That’s the giant takeaway from Sunday’s recreation at Arrowhead, but it surely’s no longer the handiest lesson we realized about those two juggernauts and the way their seasons would possibly play out. So we’ve recognized 5 extra giant takeaways from Buffalo’s giant win. Let’s get started with the alien the Bills have beneath middle.

Josh Allen has taken some other soar into the Mahomes stratosphere

Before we get to the precise research, let me get one thing out of my gadget: OH MY GOD … JOSH ALLEN! This dude isn’t actual. I refuse to imagine it. Did you spot him leap over that man on the game-winning pressure past due in the fourth quarter? He jumped over an complete human being. And then simply began working once more find it irresistible used to be the customary factor to do! Look at this nonsense:

Allen additionally threw some passes on Sunday—40 of them, if truth be told, finishing 27 for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns. It used to be the 1/3 instantly time he’s thrown for greater than 300 yards and three-plus rankings towards the Chiefs in Kansas City, and Buffalo has received two of the ones video games. When Allen has shared the box with Mahomes over the previous two years, it’s been actually tricky to peer a lot of a distinction between the two. If Patrick Mahomes has raised the bar on QB play over the previous four-plus seasons, then Allen has cleared it like he did that deficient Chiefs defender. Can we watch that once more? I swear it’ll be the remaining time.

I’m highlighting that impressive feat of athleticism, however that’s no longer how Allen closed the hole on Mahomes. He’s completed that through getting actually freaking just right at the uninteresting—some would possibly say nerdy—facets of the place. This isn’t performative quarterbacking to assuage his coaches, both. Allen will all the time attempt to seek out the greatest play conceivable. But with defenses getting higher at doing away with the deep portions of the box, Allen remains aware of his beneath choices. The 26-year-old—HE’S NOT EVEN IN HIS PRIME YET; WHAT THE HELL!—used to view the ones shorter throws with the stage of contempt a kid would possibly have searching at a plate of greens. They had been a final lodge. Something he had to do as a result of his coaches mentioned so.

That’s no longer the case any further. Allen is throwing the ones shorter passes extra ceaselessly, and he’s throwing them sooner.

Josh Allen on Throws Under 5 Air Yards

Season Attempts/Game Comp% Yards/Dropback EPA/Play Success Rate Time to Throw
Season Attempts/Game Comp% Yards/Dropback EPA/Play Success Rate Time to Throw
2022 22.33 76.1% 5.53 0.06 54.9% 2.19
2021 18.71 73.0% 4.65 -0.05 47.2% 2.35
2020 17.44 75.6% 5.29 0.08 51.6% 2.41
2019 12.88 68.9% 4.62 -0.11 39.4% 2.22
2018 11.67 70.7% 4.45 -0.02 42.1% 2.42


As lately as the 2021 season, defensive coordinators had been ready to make Allen uncomfortable the usage of disguised coverages and pressures. This yr, although, he is aware of the place his retailers are, and is aware of when to make use of them. The play from Sunday’s recreation that stands proud maximum isn’t that ridiculous run—we haven’t even mentioned him juking L’Jarius Sneed—or his game-winning throw to Dawson Knox. It’s this cross to Khalil Shakir that picked up 14 yards.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo threw all varieties of pre-snap appears to be like and coverages at Allen all through the recreation. The play above finally ends up being a five-man drive, and the Bills megastar sniffs it out early. But as a substitute of simply calling for the snap and hoping for the best possible, Allen slows issues down and issues out to Shakir that if the ones two defenders rush the passer, he’s “hot” and has to shorten his course to supply the quarterback with a snappy outlet.

This is the place Allen has taken the subsequent step. Even remaining season, those fast, easy-looking responses to defensive trickery gave him problems. Not anymore! If you blitz him, he’ll beat you. Play cushy on the again finish, and he’ll in finding a solution beneath. Allen has been in a position to matching Mahomes in the play-making division since he entered the league. Now he’s doing the small issues that separate the just right quarterbacks from the really elite.

Patrick Mahomes must be a midrange shooter now

Andy Reid gave it a decent effort. He attempted to restructure the Chiefs offense in some way that will pressure defenses to come back out of the two-high protection shells which were so efficient at proscribing Kansas City’s deep passing recreation over the previous two years. He did it through striking Mahomes beneath middle, the place the risk of the run is at its best, with extra giant our bodies in the field to lend a hand the blockading effort. And it labored! Well … roughly. The Chiefs have noticed extra single-high protection coverages early in this season, however they’re nonetheless having issues gaining access to the deeper portions of the box. And once they fell at the back of 17-0 early in a Week 5 win over Las Vegas, Reid went again to the roots of his offense and in large part scrapped the under-center performs. Before taking part in the Raiders, the offense have been beneath middle for 61 snaps. Since falling at the back of 17-0 in that recreation, they’ve run handiest two such performs, all in the conflict towards the Bills.

Maybe this can be a signal that the Chiefs are formally over their ex, Tyreek Hill, and feature stopped looking to recapture the magic of the 2018-20 generation, once they had been pushing the ball downfield reputedly each time Mahomes dropped again to cross. Or possibly it simply is going to turn that after occasions get determined—once they fall right into a hollow or arise towards a group in a position to beating them—the Chiefs will revert again to what they do best possible. Either means, the experiment seems to be over.

Instead of looking to create deep photographs in the passing recreation, Mahomes and corporate had been extra concerned about the intermediate spaces, with Kelce serving as the centerpiece of the passing recreation. The easy tight finish will all the time be Mahomes’s first choice towards guy protection, and now the Chiefs are discovering extra tactics to get him into unhealthy areas towards zone. With the Bills taking part in a variety of Cover 2 on Sunday, Kansas City requested Kelce (and others) to run a number of intermediate out-breaking routes between the deep protection and the cornerback accountable in the apartments.

Kelce had 3 giant performs in that zone, as you’ll see in his course map, by means of Next Gen Stats:

The Chiefs offense merely isn’t constructed to get defenses out of the ones two-high shells—no longer with a run recreation constructed round scat working backs who’re at their best possible in the passing recreation. But they have got a quarterback who could make throws into spaces of the box different passers simply aren’t in a position to attacking persistently—in particular that Cover 2 hollow on the perimeter.

If Kansas City goes to unravel its two-deep downside, it’ll want Mahomes to proceed making throws like that.

Von Miller used to be value the cash

After racking up 42 issues in remaining yr’s playoff win over the Bills, the Chiefs controlled simply 20 in Sunday’s loss. I don’t know that Buffalo’s protection, as a unit, performed all that higher in the rematch—issues had been slightly equivalent from an X’s and O’s point of view. But there used to be one key distinction: The Bills had Von Miller on the box this time.

It will have felt as though Mahomes used to be beneath extra drive on this recreation than in the January tilt, however Buffalo’s drive price used to be principally similar. This time, although, the Bills grew to become that drive into sacks. Miller had two sacks himself, along with a key take on of Mahomes on a third-and-13 scramble, and he additionally stressed the Chiefs QB into throwing the game-losing interception past due. Just take a look at how the high quality of Buffalo’s drive this recreation affected Mahomes’s stat line:

Mahomes Against Buffalo’s Pressure

Game Pressured Dropbacks Sack Rate EPA/Play Yards/Play Success Rate
Game Pressured Dropbacks Sack Rate EPA/Play Yards/Play Success Rate
2021 playoffs 21 13% 0.67 9.1 53%
Week 6 22 17% 0.01 5.2 32%


Some will have balked at the $120 million contract the Bills passed Miller in the offseason. It’s some huge cash for a 33-year-old who has an extended historical past of accidents. But the ones are the sorts of gambles contenders must make. Miller is a real recreation changer, and had he been in this group in 2021, the results of remaining yr’s trip will have been other. The Bills paid some huge cash to ensure that used to be the case this season, and up to now, the funding looks as if a wise one.

Kansas City wishes so as to add some other receiver

Playing towards the Chiefs with Tyreek Hill used to be all the time a math downside: You wanted two guys to hide Hill, his number one defender and a security over the best; two extra to bracket Kelce beneath, since you couldn’t consider a smaller nook or slower protection to do it on their very own; and an additional pair of eyes to verify Mahomes stayed in the pocket. With handiest 11 defenders on the box and 8 different Chiefs gamers to account for, it used to be just about inconceivable to do all of the ones issues with out dashing handiest 3, and giving Mahomes time beyond regulation in the pocket to pick out aside the secondary isn’t a viable technique over the process a 60-minute recreation.

Now that Hill’s long past and protecting this passing recreation isn’t the mathematical conundrum it as soon as used to be, defenses had been unfastened to play extra aggressively, particularly on passing downs. Kansas City continues to be seeing its fair proportion of two-high zone protection on early downs, however combatants have additionally been extra keen to play tight guy protection with just a unmarried protection deep. As we lined above, Mahomes has remained efficient through making tricky throws into different spaces of the box, however defenses had been ready to play extra Cover 1 with out getting gashed in on 1/3 downs—when combatants don’t have to fret about the run and will throw an additional defender at Kelce. So a ways this season, Mahomes is seeing Cover 1—that’s man-to-man protection beneath with one protection deep in the center of the box—on 33.7 % of his dropbacks. That’s up from 19.9 % in 2021 and 23 % in 2020, consistent with TruMedia.

Mahomes has been high quality towards the ones coverages, however he additionally hasn’t completed anything else that will deter defenses from taking part in them. He’s on tempo to set four-year lows in final touch share, yards consistent with dropback, and luck price on performs towards Cover 1.

Free-agent additions Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster have by no means been know to create separation as course runners, and neither man is far of a ball winner—Valdes-Scantling were given outmuscled through rookie Kaiir Elam on Mahomes’s first select on Sunday—which creates problems when defenses play guy and throw a 2d defender at Kelce. Until the Chiefs in finding some other risk who can beat guy protection persistently—whether or not it’s a unfastened agent like Odell Beckham Jr. or a business goal like Carolina’s D.J. Moore—defenses will be capable to play tighter to routes and pressure Mahomes into tougher throws.

Buffalo has created the best offensive scheme

While Allen is a quarterback who can do anything else you’ll perhaps ask of him, there are just a few offensive minds shiny sufficient to if truth be told design an offense that highlights his versatility to the fullest extent. Now, it’s nonetheless early of their partnership, however it sounds as if first-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is that man.

Heading into the season, the function gave the look to be to construct an offense that had conceptual versatility. “We’ve got a lot of juice,” Allen advised The Ringer’s Kevin Clark in August. “So it’s finding ways to put the ball in the hands of our playmakers, getting the right people on the field at the right time. Whether that’s 11, 12, 13, zero [personnel], 10, whatever.”

And in keeping with Sunday’s end result, Dorsey has figured it out.

Buffalo can pass mild with 3 or even 4 receivers on the box without delay. They can put a couple of backs in the backfield or a couple of tight ends on the line of scrimmage. They can line up beneath middle or in the gun. They can dial up old-school, downhill-run performs, or name extra fashionable choice performs designed round the QB. Allen has change into a surgeon on beneath stuff, however he’s nonetheless throwing rockets to the deep and intermediate portions of the box. And he’s as comfy throwing to the center of the box as he’s out of doors the numbers.

This offense can do anything else at any time, and it does all of it at a excessive stage. This isn’t simply the best possible offense in the NFL nowadays. It’s one in every of the maximum complete assaults this league has ever noticed.

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