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Founder, The Sports Court
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills are set to square off in an AFC Championship game for the ages. Both teams are headlined by young star QBs and brilliant head coaches.
This AFC Championship is an even affair, and you can make cases for both teams in what is expected to be a fast-paced, high-scoring game.
So that’s exactly what I did.
Here are 3 cases for a Chiefs and Bills win.
Explosiveness from the start:
One thing the Chiefs are great at is scoring from the start. The Chiefs are near the top of every quarter in scoring and point differential, and scoring points from the start will be huge.
This is Josh Allen’s first AFC Championship Game, while it’s Patrick Mahomes third, third straight that is.
An electric start, as the Chiefs often have, will put the pressure right into Allen’s hands to keep the Bills alive and compete with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs defense has looked decent all year, but they certainly showed up big-time in their previous game against Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
Tyrann Mathieu put on a show, and even on snaps where he didn’t make the tackle, Mathieu’s movement forced many big plays and stops for the Chiefs.
Mathieu will need to put on another big showing to stop a Chiefs offense that is hot right now.
One thing to watch out for is how the Chiefs defense contains Josh Allen. Stopping Stefon Diggs seems to be many people's main focus, and for a good reason, but Allen is able to use his legs when needed. He’s a solid runner.
One thing Allen was struggling with during the Ravens game was the deep ball, he was often inaccurate when moving downfield.
It’ll be interesting to see what the scheme is to contain a very versatile Chiefs offense.
Admit it - Patrick Mahomes wins games. It’s plain and simple.
Mahomes suffered a concussion in the Chiefs divisional-round matchup against the Browns and is questionable for the Conference Championship.
No player in NFL history even comes close to what Mahomes is. He’s a piece of all the great QBs all into one puzzle, and he’s certainly a puzzle to figure out how to stop. Teams can’t seem to do it.
Mahomes’ presence will give a boost to players such as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and the team as a whole.
Chad Henne had his heroics, but Mahomes is the QB who will truly win the Chiefs a game.
Overall, Mahomes=wins. It’s like y=mx+b, everybody knows. Chiefs fans better hope Mahomes concussion is very mild and he can return by gametime, but only time shall tell.
(May I just write - as somebody who has experienced concussions, I advise Mahomes and the doctors to be very safe and cautious in his decision. Better be safe than sorry!)
I love Sean McDermott. He’s smart, he’s calm, he’s a winner. He truly turned this Buffalo team around, from great drafting to great schemes, McDermott is the mastermind behind the Bills success.
Andy Reid will put up a great coaching display, there is almost zero doubt about that. McDermott will need to put on an amazing coaching performance in order to beat the Chiefs, especially if Patrick Mahomes is on the field.
I have confidence in McDermott to do an incredible job, and it’s up to his players to execute.
Get the flow going, early
I mentioned the Chiefs scoring 1st quarter points, and I feel the same applies to the Bills. It’s huge for the Bills to establish a flow and what style they want to play early on in the game.
The Bills need to find what they want to do in the game, on both sides of the ball, and simply do it.
The Allen to Diggs connection is mentioned the most, but the Allen to Beasley connection cannot be underestimated. Both of those connections need to be utilized early on.
On the defensive side of the ball, it will be ideal to slow the Chiefs down. Watch out for screen passes. Matt Milano had a good game in the divisional round and he will have to carry that with him to the game against the Chiefs to somehow stop the seemingly endless options the Chiefs offense have.
Both sides of the ball need to set a rhythm that will shake up the Chiefs and put the Chiefs in the position where they have to catch on to the tide the Bills are going at.
CONNECTING THE BIG PLAYS
Time and time again in the NFL Playoffs this year, teams lose because they cannot connect the big plays. For reference, the Javon Wims dropped pass in the Saints vs Bears game.
Buffalo missed some pretty significant shots downfield last week, and Josh Allen will need to step up and improve on his touch in this game against the Chiefs.
If the Bills are going to take a long shot this week, they will have to connect them. No team is going to beat the reigning Super Bowl Champions off of overthrown balls.
However, a big play is just what the Bills need to set the record straight and put the Chiefs in their place. It’s a huge confidence booster for the offense when big plays connect and I am sure McDermott might call a few heavy shots here and there.
Founder, The Sports Court
Alabama and Notre Dame took to the field at Cowboys Stadium on New Year's Day in the iconic Rose Bowl Game.
It was all Alabama in the first half.
Mac Jones' intelligence showed, always finding the right receiver and Notre Dame’s defense had no solution for the high-powered Crimson Tide offense.
Alabama star running back Najee Harris hit the ground running with 93 yards in the first half, even hurdling Nick McCloud in a play that will surely be on SportsCenter Top 10.
The star of the half was none other than AP Player of the Year, DeVonta Smith.
The thin-built Smith explodes off the ground like Usain Bolt and his route-running is top-tier. Notre Dame couldn’t contain the Heisman candidate and it cost them big time, letting up 101 yards and two touchdowns and the hands of Smith.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame tried to control the clock and keep Alabama’s high-powered offense off the field for as long as possible. Led by QB, Ian Book, and RB, Kyren Williams, Notre Dame put together some good dries, but only managed to put up 7 points.
To end the half, Jonathan Doer of Notre Dame missed a field goal from 55 yards out that would’ve seen Notre Dame cut their deficit to 11.
Alabama got the ball to start the second half but was outplayed in their first drive by the Notre Dame defense.
Notre Dame started to gain momentum on offense, connecting their passes and running the ball well until Ian Book threw an interception, getting picked off by Crimson Tide sophomore, Christian Harris.
Harris’ interception was capped off by DeVonta Smith’s third touchdown of the day. Smith showed his worth while cementing his case for the Heisman.
Later in the third quarter, Ian Book got injured off a sack from Christian Barmore. Barmore put all 310 lbs onto Book and the star Notre Dame QB did not return until the 4th quarter. In between then, Drew Pyne took the snaps for the Irish.
Book returned, and the Irish got into a rhythm. Book connected with Micahel Mayer for a touchdown, but it was taken away due to an illegal shift by Notre Dame.
Notre Dame failed to capitalize after the penalty, and the game ended 31-10 in favor of Alabama.
Ian Book’s last game in a gold helmet saw him throw 229 yards while rushing for 75. Kyren Williams ran for 68 and 1 TD.
Alabama’s Mac Jones threw for 297 yards and 4 TD, while Harris ran for 125 and Smith caught for 3 TD and 130 yards on only 7 catches. Alabama receiver Jahleel Billingsley also caught a TD pass from Jones.
Alabama is now set to face the winner of the Clemson-Ohio State game. Both Clemson and Ohio State have future 1st round picks in Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields and Alabama will have to do extensive scouting on both QB’s.
Notre Dame ends their season 10-2, reaching as high as 2nd in the rankings and beating #1 Clemson during the season. Although the season may’ve not ended the way Irish fans were hoping it would, Notre Dame had a great season and is now getting prepared for life without Ian Book.
Founder, The Sports Court
Shaun Crawford isn’t your typical college football player.
Crawford, the 5’9 cornerback from Lakewood, Ohio, is a veteran who has gone through since stepping on the Notre Dame campus in 2015.
As a freshman, Crawford suffered a torn ACL that saw him undergo season-ending surgery.
His sophomore year started off with two successful games against Texas and Nevada in which Crawford had an interception and a blocked PAT return against Texas. However, Crawford tore his Achilles during the game against Nevada.
His junior year was the first year that he played the whole year, but in 2018, as a senior, Crawford injured his knee during fall camp and missed the whole year.
After being ranked the 63rd best player in the nation coming out of high school, Crawford only played in 1 full season of his 4 years at Notre Dame.
Naturally, Crawford took a graduate year in 2019 and yet another one in 2020, both years being named team captain and being a lockdown cornerback on an Irish team that is set to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2021.
Crawford’s journey to the top was spent for many hours by himself on the ND campus, wondering if he will ever wear the iconic gold helmet again.
But the support of the Irish fans around the country and knowing Notre Dame was his home away from honey made Crawford fight, fight for another snap.
“This place is home to me,” Crawford said, “It’s been a place where I continue to find love and passion for the game. Coach Kelly has been great, sticking with me through the pain and adversity, he’s been a father-figure to me.”
And after six long, painful, but rewarding years, Crawford and Kelly are now on the nations biggest stage together for one last time before Crawford heads off to the NFL Draft.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey