They’ve had three battles in the last 15 months, with the Chiefs winning two, including last season’s AFC title game (38-24). Buffalo sent a message with a 38-20 regular-season win at Arrowhead earlier this season. The Buffalo Bills defense finished No. 1 overall in the NFL. After a slow start, Kansas City’s offense evolved into the explosive juggernaut we’ve grown accustomed too.
Both units were coordinated by two prominent Black coordinators who will clash on Sunday and greatly influence the outcome of the AFC divisional round game.
Eric Bieniemy vs. Leslie Frazier: The Firestarter vs. the Lockdown
Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy and Bills DC Leslie Frazier will lock horns in a match of wits. Sports media personality and radio personality Rob Parker has covered the NFL for more than 25 seasons.
“This is the kind of game that gets one of these guys a head coach job. Playoff games define careers and wins get coordinators head coaching opportunities,” Parker told The Shadow League. “You saw the job Brian Flores’ defense did in helping Tom Brady win his last Super Bowl in New England, right? Teams were banging down his door and the Dolphins hired him. “
We’ve promoted Leslie Frazier to defensive coordinator/assistant head coach! 👏
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) March 4, 2020
Bieniemy Reputation Growing As Offensive Guru:
EB has put in the work in a variety of capacities, including running backs coach and offensive coordinator. His work with the Patrick Mahomes has been nothing short of stellar. Since he’s been in charge of the Chiefs offense, they’ve never finished below sixth in total offense. KC finished first in 2018, sixth in 2019 and first in 2020. And this season they ranked third.
Eric Bieniemy's NFL ranks in total offense as OC with the Chiefs:
2020: 1st pic.twitter.com/p0qXFIzhq5
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 21, 2021
Bieniemy and Mahomes have formed one of the most prolific OC-QB duos in history. Mahomes has torched the league with his arm and legs. And the receiving duo of future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce and the dynamic Tyreek Hill complete the skills blitz that the Chiefs attack brings. But what’s been most impressive about Bieniemy is how he adapts to what the defense is trying to do to his offense. His creativity and innovation are elite, and having a guy like Mahomes to orchestrate it all makes it that much better.
After practice on Friday, EB discussed the matchup.
“We have to go out there and play an assignment-sound football game. Just like I talk to the guys each and every week, it’s about executing and the attention to details, but being great at it.”
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 3, 2020
Leslie Frazier Has Rebuilt His Reputation In Buffalo:
Frazier has turned the Bills defense into a stingy unit. A couple seasons ago Frazier was mired in Tampa with underwhelming talent on D. He was trying to reestablish himself after getting fired from Minnesota following a 21-32-1 run as head coach. Buffalo led the league this season in scoring defense (17.0 points per game), and they allowed the least number of yards per game (272.8 per game).
Frazier’s defenses have a knack for forcing takeaways, and this season Buffalo finished third in the league (30). Bill Mafia’s All-Pro safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer allows Frazier to get creative and take chances with his front seven. In fact, the Bills pressure rate increased once All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White went out with a torn ACL.
Frazier spoke about this weekend’s matchup with the Chiefs and what Buffalo learned since the October meeting.
“They’re not giving the ball away like they were earlier in the season. That really comes to mind. Their defense is doing a great job of taking the ball away, which is assisting them from an offensive standpoint. I think the combination of the offense taking care of the football, and the way their defense has come on, they really have become more of a complete team and then presents problems for opponents. We got to find ways to take the ball away. They’re doing a pretty good job of not giving it away.”
With Black coordinators in the league almost as rare as Black head coaches, all eyes will be on these coaches, especially late in the game when decisiveness and execution under pressure will favor the victor.
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