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Sunday Night Football Takeaways

6th consecutive AFC Championship appearance for the Chiefs

With the Manning vs Brady matchup of this generation, two of the best quarterbacks in the league are facing off for the final game of the Divisional Round. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes take center stage for their third matchup in the playoffs.

The Bills: From the start of the game, it looked as if it was going to be rough for the Bills. On the very first play, they fumbled the ball and had a penalty. Josh Allen knows how to improvise a play. There were multiple times he lateraled the ball to extend the play (one was technically a pass, but the fact that he has a clutch gene still stands). In the first half, Allen had 51 rushing yards, while the entire Chiefs' offense had 53. This doesn’t take away from James Cook having a solid day as well. All the Bills were running great in the first half and the future is bright for Cook. I want to talk about someone who may have a third year breakout. Khalil Shakir put excellent effort into a contested catch in the first half to set up the second Josh Allen rushing touchdown of the game. Later, he capped off a drive with a touchdown against L’Jarius Sneed, who has been phenomenal this year. He continues to show flashes and with Stefon Diggs struggling at times, Shakir is worth taking a flier on. It’s just a bonus that he happens to be tied to Allen for the foreseeable future. He took a huge hit that knock him out of the game for a little while, but he did return. Speaking of pain, just three targets for Diggs in the first half. He ended the game with just three receptions for 21 yards and a fumble. Diggs also had a major drop on a 50-plus yard throw that Allen miraculously put right on him. Typically, we would see Diggs make that catch. Looking at his regular season stats, he just hasn’t looked himself over the second half. Since Week 10, his 17 game pace would have been 78 receptions for 741 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That’s not a top 10 receiver in the league and not someone you can depend on week in and week out. That’s comparable to Jerry Jeudy or Josh Downs’ stats this season. I fear that the end is near, or it’s already here for Diggs. Attempting to tie the game, Tyler Bass kicked it wide right with under two minutes left. I never like kickers getting the blame for a loss (but I know this one will sting for Bills fans) as there were so many other plays throughout the game that could have changed the outcome as well. Dalton Kincaid had an okay game, but he wasn't involved a ton. When he was, he showed his athleticism. Bright future ahead for Kincaid.

The Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes had himself a fine night. The Chiefs found themselves a little more dedicated to the ground game to keep Allen sidelined, but Mahomes still continues to get it done with his crew on his way to his fifth consecutive AFC championship game. Travis Kelce caught a wide open pass for his first touchdown since Week 11. He found the end zone again later in the game. While his production has declined this year, he’s still one of the best, if not the best, tight end in the league. I’m not sure any running back runs harder than Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco had over 110 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone on a tough run. He runs angry. Even though he had a strong rookie performance, I was surprised this off season that he avoided getting replaced in the 2023 NFL draft because of the lack of draft capital the Chiefs invested in him. While there are some running backs I like in the upcoming draft, Pacheco has shown more than enough that he can be the primary back for this offense. A weird roller coaster chain of events happened in the fourth quarter. The Bills decided to go for it on fourth down on their own 30 yard line and failed to convert. As a Patriots fan, I had flashbacks of the Colts vs. Patriots in 2009 when they did that. Oddly specific, I know, but it still gives me nightmares. The situation was a little different, and I’m all for being aggressive, but when you’re only down by three with a ton of time left to play, I don't agree with the decision. Thankfully, it wasn’t costly for the Bills. The very first play by Pacheco goes for 29 yards. After that, Mecole Hardman fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, giving the ball right back to the Bills. It was a quiet night for Rashee Rice. Meanwhile, Marquez Valdes-Scantling had the most Marquez Valdes-Scantling stat line with two receptions for 62 yards.

—Colt Williams

Williams is working towards a degree in economics and statistics at Sonoma State. A United States Air Force veteran, he’s been playing fantasy football since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @_ColtWilliams

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