An upset of New England and Texans previous follies pave way for Jackson and Mahomes

Ravens, Chiefs await winners of Wildcard Weekend

Ravens, Chiefs await winners of Wildcard Weekend
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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes

The AFC playoff picture is set.

Dolphins do it big

DeVante Parker worked potential Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and the ageless wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 320 including the above score that would decide the game. The Dolphins looked anything but a tanking team on their way to hanging with the Patriots and handing the Pats a loss that put them in danger of missing a bye for the first time since 2009.

The Patriots have never won the Super Bowl without having a bye. They have never made it to the Super Bowl in the Brady era without the bye. New England will host

Chiefs take bye from Pats, send Rivers home sad

Philip Rivers maybe finished his career with the Chargers with an interception as the Chiefs were too much for the Chargers in the season finale. A win and Patriots loss would get the Chiefs a bye for the second time with Patrick Mahomes as their starter. Mahomes and company did their part while getting help from the Dolphins.

The Chiefs will finish as the two seed with Baltimore the one seed. The Chiefs were the first team to hand the Ravens a loss this year, but that was in Kansas City. If the Chiefs get another shot at the Ravens it will be in Baltimore this time.

This is as tough a 1-2 punch at the top of the AFC that we have seen in a long time. The Chiefs have it going on both sides of the ball while the Ravens will get two weeks of rest after taking it easy in the final week of the regular season.

Texans early season stumbles doom bye chances

The Texans started A.J. McCarron in a game that ultimately meant nothing for them. The Titans would win and secure the final AFC playoff spot.

It should have meant more for the Texans.

Houston has to be kicking themselves for two really hard to understand losses on their schedule. Early in the year they laid an egg against Kyle Allen and the Panthers and later in the year Denver came to town and Drew Lock lit the Texans up. They were two really bad losses and ultimately cost the Texans at a meaningful game in week 17 that could have had the Texans in a position for a bye.

Bill O'Brien has won four division crowns but he has never played week 17 controlling his own destiny for a bye. That puts much more pressure on the matchup with the Bills next weekend.

Texans hosting Bills

Josh Allen feels like a bad matchup for the Texans defense. He likes to toss bombs and the Texans have been known to blow a coverage or two. He also has a dangerous slot weapon in Cole Beasley and a tight end he trusts to make plays in Dawson Knox. Devin Singletary and Frank Gore provide a very solid rushing attack with Singletary shouldering the load more lately.

The Bills defense is fantastic this season. Led by Tre'Davious White in the secondary and an underrated safety duo the Bills are a nightmare for passing games. They are one of three teams to allow less than 200 passing yards per game this season. A few weeks ago the Ravens struggled to move the ball and settled for 24 points in their win over Buffalo.

The Texans will be mocked heading into this game and most will expect them to lose the game. Under Bill O'Brien they have lost every game in the playoffs when facing the team's regular starting quarterback. Last year, the Colts embarrassed the Texans. J.J. Watt should make his return to the field in this game. With a week of rest under their belts for their key players, the Texans have to show up better than their previous playoff trips under O'Brien.

It isn't crazy to think the Texans might have too much on offense for the Bills but Buffalo can slow down Watson and company and a defensive score would really set the Bills up for an upset victory.

Patriots hosting Titans

The Patriots have to contend with the toughest possible sixth seeded team. The Titans have been red hot with Ryan Tannehill under center and boast a formidable passing attack as well as a solid rushing attack. Tom Brady won't be able to keep up with the Titans if they are scoring at will.

The Patriots defense is the much better unit but the Titans have had plenty of successful bend-don't-break games including a win vs Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes. That was at home though, this will be in New England. Tannehill was frustrated earlier in December by a beaten up Texans defense, it would stand to reason the Patriots have enough to slow down the Tennessee offense. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins put on the Patriots in a must-win for the bye scenario. Perhaps there are more cracks in than formidable defense than recently imagined.

It would be a real surprise if the Tannehill revival tour went to New England and got a win.

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Allen had high praise for Diggs. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

Impersonal as it might seem to have their dynamic on-field relationship end with an exchange of phone texts, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made it clear on Thursday how much receiver Stefon Diggs meant to him during their four seasons together in Buffalo.

Allen made no mention of Diggs’ mercurial temperament or the occasional sideline flare-ups by expressing only praise in his first opportunity to discuss his now-former teammate being traded to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

“Just thanking him for everything that he did for me, and (I’ll) always have a spot in my heart for him. I’ll always love that guy like a brother. And I wish him nothing but the best,” Allen said, in disclosing what he texted to Diggs. “My lasting memory of Stef will be the receiver that helped me become the quarterback that I am today.”

Brought together in March 2020, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Diggs in a trade with Minnesota, the duo went on to re-write many of Buffalo's single-season passing and scoring records, and lead the team to four straight AFC East titles.

Diggs, now 30, also brought an inescapable sense of drama with him in raising questions about his commitment to the Bills and whether his tight relationship with Allen had soured.

A day before being traded, Diggs posted a message, “You sure?” on the social media platform X in response to someone suggesting he wasn’t essential to Allen’s success.

Whatever hard feelings, if any, lingered as Buffalo opened its voluntary workout sessions this week were not apparent from Allen or coach Sean McDermott, who also addressed reporters for the first time since Diggs was traded.

“Stef’s a great player, really enjoyed our time together. Won a lot of games and he was a huge factor in winning those games. We’ll miss him,” McDermott said. “You never replace a player like Stef Diggs, and we wish him well.”

Allen turned his focus to the future and a Bills team that spent much of the offseason retooling an aging and expensive roster.

Aside from trading Diggs, salary cap restrictions led to Buffalo cutting respected center Mitch Morse, the breakup of a veteran secondary that had been together since 2017, and the team unable to afford re-signing No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.

“I don’t think it’s a wrong thing or a bad thing to get younger,” said Allen, entering his seventh NFL season. “I think it’s an opportunity for myself to grow as a leader. And to bring along some of these young guys and new guys that we’ve brought in to our team. And that’s an opportunity, frankly, that I’m very excited about."

Despite the departures, the Bills offense is not exactly lacking even though general manager Brandon Beane is expected to target selecting a receiver with his first pick — currently 28th overall — in the draft next week.

Receiver Khalil Shakir enters his third year and tight end Dalton Kincaid enter his second following promising seasons. Buffalo also added veteran experience in signing free agent receiver Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

While Beane acknowledged the Bills lack a true No. 1 receiver, he noted there’s less urgency to fill that spot now than in 2020 because of how much the offense has developed under Allen.

“Now that Josh has ascended to the player he is, is that a requirement? I don’t think so,” Beane said.

Diggs’ role also began diminishing in the second half of last season, which coincided with Joe Brady replacing Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Brady placed an emphasis on adding balance to a pass-heavy attack and getting more receivers involved, which led to an uptick in production for Shakir and Kincaid.

While Diggs’ numbers dropped, Buffalo’s win total increased.

With the Bills at 6-6, Diggs ranked third in the NFL with 83 catches, seventh with 969 yards and tied for third with eight TDs receiving. Buffalo then closed the season with five straight wins in which Diggs combined for 24 catches for 214 yards and no scores.

”(Diggs) meant a lot. You look at the statistics, they don’t lie,” Allen said, in referring to Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. “I don’t get paid to make changes on the team. I get paid to be the best quarterback that I can be and try to lead the guys on this team.”

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