Two of the most tantalizing games of a still-young 2022 season are served up in Week 6 of the NFL season.
The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs will play each other on Sunday afternoon for the seventh time in two years. The lone time Josh Allen defeated Patrick Mahomes was in last season’s regular-season match at Arrowhead Stadium, which the Bills won 38-20. Although Buffalo is favored on Sunday, the big test won’t likely come until January, when the Bills will face Kansas City, where they have lost the last two postseasons.
The Dallas Cowboys have the opportunity to hand the Philadelphia Eagles their first defeat of the 2022 campaign on Sunday night. Dallas’ victory would also tie the NFC East for first place. So which teams are probably qualifying? Let’s find out.
How will teams make it to the playoffs?
There could be six berths available in the postseason in each of the NFL’s two conferences, the NFC and AFC. There are two Wild Card berths in addition to the four spots each of the division winners—North, South, East, and West—will receive.
The team with the best overall record in the conference, or the No. 1 seed, benefits from home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as well as a bye week in the first round of playoffs while the Wild Card teams square off. The Green Bay Packers are the best team in the NFC this season.
Will the Kansas City Chiefs make it?
The Chiefs must enhance their red zone defense. Prior to Monday night’s game against the Raiders, they were surrendering touchdowns on 80% of their opponents’ trips inside the 20 — the worst rate in the league. This mistake previously cost Indy the game against the Colts since it prevented them from forcing field goals on their opening and final possessions. This needs to be rectified in order for the Chiefs to qualify for the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers will get tough competition
Due to strong early-season competition, Aaron Rodgers, who has won the NFL MVP award two seasons in a row, will have a difficult time retaining his title. It would be a nearly unheard-of feat in the NFL’s contemporary era to win three MVP honors in a row. There hasn’t been such award dominance since Brett Favre won three consecutive times between 1995 and 1997.
Aaron Rodgers is going to be very conscious of this. He wants to disprove the clubs that passed on him in the drought. He won’t have an easy time, though, as the Packers gave away their top receiving option.
A little prediction for the major week
Saquon Barkley won’t gain as many yards while running as J.K. Dobbins. With a season-best 3.25 yards gained after contact, Dobbins just had his most explosive game. The Giants have had trouble stopping the run, allowing 2.36 yards after contact on average (fourth-worst in the league). When playing Baltimore, which has only permitted one running back to rush for more than 80 yards in a game since the beginning of 2021, Barkley may have a difficult day (Dalvin Cook in Week 9 last season).
What about Buffalo Bills?
Although it’s impossible to think of a scenario in which this team doesn’t get to the postseason, the offense has had trouble developing the running game outside of quarterback Josh Allen. The frontal blocking, particularly at guard (65.3% run block victory percentage, ranked 32nd), is mostly to blame for this.
Allen has led the team in rushing for four of the team’s five games, becoming just the second quarterback (after Lamar Jackson) to do so. Only one running back has scored on a rushing play (James Cook against the Steelers) (2021). The Bills’ offense is already performing well under the leadership of Allen, an early MVP contender, but if the running backs can produce regularly, Buffalo’s potential will increase and Allen’s risk of injury may be reduced.