From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
The game everybody has craved for over the past few months is going to happen. It’s going to happen in five days.
The Kansas City Chiefs, defending Super Bowl champions and perhaps the NFL’s version of the greatest entertainment show equivalent to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors that used to feature Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant a few years ago, play host to the upstart Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC title game. The winner of this game earns the right to advance to Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 7.
The Chiefs have a huge question mark concerning the health of star QB Patrick Mahomes, who’s in concussion protocol after suffering a tough hit in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff win over the Cleveland Browns.
From all indications, it appears that Mahomes will be ready to play though he’s also bothered by a bad foot. The foot may be more problematic for Mahomes than the concussion.
If the Bills want to go to their first Super Bowl in 27 years, they have to figure out a way to contain the Chiefs’ high-octane offense.
The Chiefs have future Hall of Famers all over the field. There is head coach Andy Reid, Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and offensive tackle Eric Fisher is at least a future Hall of Fame nominee.
This is what the Chiefs accomplished against the Browns BEFORE Mahomes (21 of 30 for 255 yards, 107 passer rating), also hobbling around on a sore foot, left the game early in the third quarter: TD, TD, FG, FG, missed FG and driving into potential FG territory.
As long as Mahomes plays Sunday, the Bills are going to have a difficult chore stopping that offense. Kelce and Hill are automatic 100-yard gainers. Against the Browns, Hill caught eight balls for 110 yards, and Kelce also made eight receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Bills QB Josh Allen has significant weapons as well with WRs Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley.
I give the Chiefs a slight edge in the running game. The Bills — a Hail Mary pass away from a 12-game winning streak — in recent weeks haven’t shown much, if anything, in the run department.
If Mahomes plays, I like the Chiefs over the Bills, 28-24. If Mahomes doesn’t play, I like the Bills, 22-19.
n From Dwight Perry of The Seattle Times — Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, on the 6:40 p.m. EST playoff matchup between Tom Brady, 43, and Drew Brees, 42: “So a tough pregame decision for both QBs: Early Bird Special dinner — or nap?”
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org