One of the low points this season for the Chiefs was a 38-20 “Sunday Night Football” loss to the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 10.
But the Chiefs will have a chance to gain a measure of revenge when the Bills return to Arrowhead for an AFC Divisional playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 23.
If the Chiefs want to get past the Bills this time and advance to a fourth straight AFC Championship Game, here are three areas in which they will need to improve.
1. Allen in the pocket
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has a big arm, but he’s also hurt teams with his ability to escape the pocket.
In that first meeting, Allen ran for a team-high 59 yards, including a touchdown. He also picked up three first downs with his legs. That included two on third-down plays.
Against the Patriots in Saturday’s playoff game, Allen ran for 66 yards on just six carries. So keeping Allen from running wild will be a key to next weekend’s game.
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2. Limit turnovers
This is a big key to any game, of course, although the Chiefs were negative-1 on turnovers against the Steelers on Sunday and still won comfortably.
But against Buffalo, the Chiefs suffered from a rash of turnovers. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions, including a 26-yard pick-six in the third quarter that put the Bills ahead 31-13.
The Chiefs lost a pair of fumbles, too, including one by Byron Pringle after a long kickoff return.
3. Pass defense
The enduring image for most Chiefs fans from that previous loss to Buffalo was the KC secondary giving up long passes. Buffalo had TD throws of 35 and 53 yards.
In the first half, Allen averaged 31.1 yards per completion, which was the most by an NFL quarterback in one half (minimum seven completions) in 30 years.
The Chiefs also were hurt by Frank Clark’s roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter, which negated a good opportunity to get the ball back in decent field position trailing by 11.
Instead, Buffalo scored a touchdown 10 plays later, removing any doubt about a Bills victory.