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Sando’s Pick Six: The Factors Setting the Bills Apart from the Chiefs (and It’s More than Just Patrick Mahomes)

The final four teams in the NFL playoffs are set, and the Buffalo Bills are not among them — another “wide right” inflicting heartache upon a franchise that has gotten so much right but keeps adding emotional scar tissue in the biggest moments.

No one outside Bills Mafia should complain about the Kansas City Chiefs facing the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship. It’s a great matchup with career-altering legacies at stake. The Detroit Lions advancing to face the San Francisco 49ers on the NFC side delivers the feel-good story Buffalo hoped to become after battling back from a 6-6 start to the season.

The Pick Six column explores what separates Kansas City from Buffalo (it’s not just Patrick Mahomes) and explains how the Bills must evolve to avoid falling further behind. We’ll put the Ravens’ historic dominance in perspective and reveal what other playoff coaches, notably the Lions’ Dan Campbell, can learn from Baltimore’s John Harbaugh. We’ll consider whether Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur (and Joe Barry by extension) experienced a leadership breakthrough with implications for the future, and much more. The full menu:

  1. What Bills must learn from Chiefs
  2. Harbaugh’s dominant Ravens show the way
  3. Packers perspective, turning point
  4. Lions arrive, but are they Super?
  5. No, your team couldn’t have had Lamar
  6. Two-minute drill: Stroud’s S2 test WIDE RIGHT FOR THE BILLS

The Chiefs beat the Bills in the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons. Two quick takeaways, one for each team.

1. What the Bills must do: Defensive injuries give Buffalo a potential out for its inability to stop the Chiefs when it mattered, but it’s an out the organization cannot afford to take. The issues on that side of the ball run deeper and will require some form of roster overhaul for the future.

2. Mahomes with defense and run game: The great championship quarterbacks of decades past usually had strong defenses on their side. Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach in the 1970s. Joe Montana in the 1980s. Troy Aikman and Brett Favre in the 1990s. Tom Brady over the past two decades.

The Ravens’ historic dominance invites a closer look. Here’s where they stand, and what some of the other playoff coaches, notably Campbell, can learn from John Harbaugh. Historic point margin: ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that the Ravens are 6-0 against opponents who were at least three games above .500 at kickoff, including playoffs. The Ravens did not merely win these games. They dominated them.

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