Bills at Chiefs: 3 key matchups in AFC Championship

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Nick Wojton
·3 min read
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The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs will meet in the AFC Championship game where a spot in the Super Bowl is on the line. Throughout the week, the lightning rods for attention with be the game’s two starting quarterbacks, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.

While deservedly so as two of the game’s most-promising young stars, football is an 11-on-11 contest. The stakes might be higher than ever, but it’s still the little games within the game that will make all the difference.

With that, here are three key matchups to watch in Sunday’s AFC title bout as Buffalo heads to Kansas City:

LB Matt Milano vs. TE Travis Kelce

Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

In the Wild Card round, the Colts' tight end unit ate up the Bills defense. That's usually a rarity, though. The reason it isn't often true is because of linebacker Matt Milano. A former safety, he is among the NFL's most underrated linebackers. He is excellent in pass coverage, among other traits. While the first meeting in 2020 against the Chiefs saw the Bills defense get torched by the running game, that was kind of overshadowed the work Travis Kelce did. The Chiefs tight end, who is probably the best tight end in the league, had two touchdowns. It'll be important for Milano to lock him down. Milano did not play in that first meeting due to injury.

WR Stefon Diggs vs. CB Bashaud Breeland

Buffalo Bills' Stefon Diggs, bottom. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

This one is more of a... Stefon Diggs vs. the Chiefs secondary. Kansas City's defense doesn't have certain cornerbacks following specific playmakers around the field. Bashaud Breeland is their most well-known and best outside cornerback according to Pro Football Focus (67.3 grade in 2020), so we'll mention him. Plus, that's him in the picture above, so why not? In all seriousness, this is an important game for Diggs because both he and quarterback Josh Allen had among their worst games of 2020 against the Chiefs the first time around. With only six catches for 46 yards... we've become accustomed to Diggs doing a lot more damage than that. Diggs did have a touchdown in that game, but more importantly, he has to move the chains more often this time around. That's arguably what he does best. Also worth noting is rookie cornerback L'Jarius Sneed. He did not play in Week 6 and he plays both in a nickel role and on the outside. Sneed has flashed some promise.

LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Kansas City Chiefs' Clyde Edwards-Helaire. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

As referenced... the Chiefs run game played a big role in Round 1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a massive game vs. Buffalo in Week 6, 161 rushing yards alone and as a team, the Chiefs had 245 rushing yards. Of all things that will be different in Round 2, the most important thing is the health the Bills have on their side. Milano didn't play in the first game, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and cornerback Tre'Davious White were among guys on Buffalo's roster that were playing with injuries (so was Allen). Edmunds in the No. 1 player we're highlighting here... and while he won't be tasked with shutting down the run game just by himself, he plays a big role. On a promising note, Edmunds, who led the Bills with nine tackles last weekend vs. the Ravens, had a great game doing just this. He personally shut quarterback Lamar Jackson down on important third downs on multiple occasions with his sideline-to-sideline prowess.