It took a quarter and a half, but the Kansas City Chiefs finally woke up Sunday night. After a disastrous opening 20 minutes, Andy Reid’s offense remembered how to dominate and did just that. They scored 35 straight points to race past the lucky-just-to-be-there Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 in Ben Roethlisberger’s final game. Now, the Chiefs will face off with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Divisional Round.
Chiefs stomp Steelers to set up rematch with Bills
There will be plenty for Reid to clean up Monday after his Chiefs turned the ball over twice in their first 4 possessions. They actually trailed at home to a team that on paper had no business even getting this far.
But perhaps all Kansas City needed was a little shock to the system. Because after going scoreless and managing just 4 first downs on their first 5 possessions, Patrick Mahomes and Co. went nuclear, scoring 21 points in the half’s final 5:45 to put the game away before intermission. The Chiefs finished the first half with 302 yards and 16 first downs, averaging a ridiculous 7.6 yards per play.
And just like that, our focus shifted — not to the second half, but to the second round of an NFL postseason that, Cowboys aside, has been a chalk-fest.
That’s a good thing. We want to see the best teams meet with the most on the line. And next weekend, on a chewed-up Arrowhead Stadium field, arguably the two best teams in the NFL will meet.
Chiefs-Bills rematch highlights Divisional Round
The Bills and Chiefs have been on a collision course since Buffalo pounded Kansas City in Week 5. The game shouldn’t be in the Divisional Round, but rather the AFC Championship Game. Yet, the Bills blew that by losing the Jacksonville Jaguars — the Jacksonville Jaguars! — in Week 9.
Nevertheless, they’ve won seven of 10 since, including a 30-point playoff thrashing of the New England Patriots Saturday night. Josh Allen was otherworldly, leading the Bills on 7 touchdown drives on Buffalo’s 7 possessions that didn’t end in kneel-downs.
So the Bills will have the firepower to match the Chiefs, and they will have the best defense on the field. Kansas City will have its own advantages, however. Namely, Mahomes — who, when focused and motivated, still makes a compelling argument that he’s the best player in the world — and home-field advantage. He went over 400 yards passing before the start of the fourth quarter Sunday.
What’s more, the Bills have never won in Arrowhead in the playoffs and have just one W there all-time post-Dec. 1. Last year’s AFC title game between these teams was a measuring stick for the Bills, and they came up short.
Can the Bills wake up from postseason nightmare?
Buffalo has lost a lot of winter games in its five-decade history. If they finally win a world title — and this group has the talent to do it — they’ll be exorcizing generations of demons. Their struggles against Kansas City are just a footnote, considering this is the franchise that lost four straight Super Bowls.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, would be simply meeting expectations with a win. They entered the season as the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl for a third straight time, and a victory over the Bills would all but fulfill the prophecy. The Titans and Bengals will meet on the other side of the bracket, but whoever emerges from that contest would be heavy underdogs against Kansas City, and probably Buffalo too.
The game of the year is coming. Let’s hope it meets expectations.