Kansas City, Missouri – The good news for the Kansas City Chiefs is that Patrick Mahomes is planning to play.
Mahomes said Friday that he is out of concussion protocol and is ready to start the AFC Championship game against the Buffalo Bills at home at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
“Talking to all of the doctors and going through all of the testing, we have the belief that I’ll have no lingering effects and I’ll be able to go out there and be who I am,” said Mahomes, who practiced for the third consecutive day on Friday.
Mahomes, 25, also said the toe injury that was bothering him against the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round was “feeling a lot better.”
Mahomes, last year’s Super Bowl MVP, suffered the concussion in the third quarter of Kansas City’s divisional round game against Cleveland and did not return. Backup Chad Henne and the Chiefs defense held on for a 22-17 victory, in part because Henne scrambled for a big gain and then converted a game-clinching first down with a surprising completion to Tyreek Hill on fourth-and-1.
“For my preparation, it’s going to stay the same: Prepare like you’re the starter each and every week, no matter what happens,” Henne said earlier in the week. “Whatever does happen, happens. I always stay ready.”
When Henne was named the quarterback for the Chiefs’ final regular-season game, after they had already clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed, the start was his first since 2014. The Los Angeles Chargers halted Kansas City’s 10-game win streak, but the Chiefs raced to an early lead against the Browns despite coming off a first-round bye.
It is worth noting that Mahomes sprinted off the field for testing after first wobbling to the sideline against the Browns. Kansas City coach Andy Reid said later that Mahomes sustained an injury to his neck area in addition to the toe injury.
While everyone was awaiting word on Mahomes’ status, the word on the Bills’ Josh Allen is he is playing at a level equal to any quarterback still competing in the postseason.
Considering that list of greats includes Mahomes, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Allen is in select company. He doesn’t get distracted by comparisons, though.
“I’m just trying to be the best version of myself,” Allen said. “I’m not trying to compare to the other guys who are arguably some of the best to ever play the game, the ones who are left. I’m just focused on what I can do.”
Ever since a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 6, the Bills have rolled to 11 wins in 12 games, including eight straight, to reach the conference title game for the first time since 1993.
Allen’s showed steady improvement throughout the season and recorded eight 300-yard passing performances.
“He’s poised. I’ve never seen him overly excited,” said Stefon Diggs, whose All-Pro season saw him lead the NFL with 1,535 yards and 127 catches. “For him putting his head down and gaining actual (rushing) yards, things like that go far with us.”
If the matchup comes down to key defensive stops, consider that Buffalo has allowed touchdowns on just two of eight red-zone situations in the playoffs.
As for Kansas City, it ranked last in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing a touchdodwn 76% of the time. Despite that, the Chiefs have held nine opponents to 20 points or fewer.
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