When the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills take the field for the AFC Championship game on Sunday, most things will be different from their first meeting this season.
Since the Bills' 26-17 Week 6 loss to Kansas City, Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Co. have been playing at a high level and have garnered lots of rightful attention.
As the Chiefs defense prepares to take on a revitalized Buffalo offense, Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu said in his press conference Wednesday that Allen's development has really shown in the final weeks of this year.
“Well, I think he’s coming into his own," Mathieu said. "He’s definitely growing into his own—more comfortable, more confidence. I was able to play against him in 2018 when I was in Houston—obviously, he was a younger quarterback, but to just see his progression from there to now, he’s clearly one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He can throw the ball a mile, can use his legs. He’s real physical when he’s running the ball, so he turns into a running back. So, our hands are full this week if you talk about Josh Allen.”
When the Chiefs traveled to Buffalo in Week 6 of this year, the 24-year-old quarterback didn't have his best performance. Allen only completed 14 of his 27 passing attempts for 122 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Since that game, Allen has averaged 283.3 yards per game and just over two touchdowns. Mathieu said the Bills will try to establish Allen early to get him into a rhythm.
"I think the last time we played them it probably wasn’t his best outing as a quarterback, so I’m pretty sure they’re going to come in here this Sunday and try to get into a rhythm fairly quickly," Mathieu said. "I could see them using his legs early on to kind of get him in a groove because he’s one of those quarterbacks, once he gets into a groove, once he gets his confidence up, he’s tough to stop. So, I think it’ll be really important for us to come out of the gates playing really hard, really fast and everybody communicating.”
Mathieu is on a statistical tear himself as of late. The do-it-all safety recorded the highest Pro Football Focus grade out of all players in the divisional round last week and has nabbed six interceptions in his last seven games.
Since joining Kansas City in 2019, Mathieu has 11 interceptions to his name, the most in that time span. Mathieu said he attributes his success of picking off passers to his devotion to film study.
“I think a lot of it is really based off that," Mathieu said. "I don’t think a lot of quarterbacks just really throw the ball at me, I think it’s more schematic and trying to find a way to get the receiver open. But once you’re able to kind of diagnose the route concepts and the patterns, I just try to put myself in a position to make a play.”