Jan 24, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor (57) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Report: QB Josh Allen fined $15K for flipping ball at opponent

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was fined $15,000 by the NFL for flipping the ball at Kansas City defensive end Alex Okafor after Okafor sacked him during the Chiefs’ 38-24 win in the AFC title game last week, NFL Network reported Saturday.

After being hit by the ball, Okafor stood over Allen while yelling at him. Bills guard Jon Feliciano took offense and shoved Okafor. Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins also went after Okafor, as all four players earned unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the play.

Feliciano and Dawkins were each fined $10,000 for their actions, while Okafor wasn’t penalized monetarily, according to the report.

“The way it ended doesn’t sit right with me with how chippy and ticky tack it got. I’m disappointed in myself,” Allen said, via Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com. “I let my emotions get to me there. That’s not how you’re supposed to play football.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 17, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) before the snap against the Cleveland Browns during the second half in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs set for AFC title vs. Bills, with or without Patrick Mahomes

The good news for the Kansas City Chiefs is that Patrick Mahomes is practicing.

However, Mahomes remained in concussion protocol as preparations began in earnest for Sunday’s AFC Championship game pitting the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

“(Mahomes) took all the snaps and he feels good, so we’re just going to follow this protocol as close as we possibly can,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters Wednesday.

Last year’s Super Bowl MVP suffered an injury 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 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.

“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. “Whatever does happen, happens. I always stay ready.”

Pretty sound outlook, though when Henne was named the quarterback for the Chiefs’ last 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. Reid said later that Mahomes sustained an injury to his neck area and also, a toe injury Mahomes suffered is not causing him any problems.

“We’re just leaving it the way we do,” Reid said of his quarterback situation. “Chad’s comfortable with it and he feels that he can handle that if need be, so I think that’s gone well there.”

While everyone is 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 gain their first AFC Championship appearance since 1993.

Allen’s steady improvement with the Bills rode a huge uptick this season when he recorded eight 300-yard passing performances.

“He’s poised. I’ve never seen him overly excited,” said Stefon Diggs, whose All-Pro season included NFL highs of 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. Taron Johnson converted one into a pick-six in the divisional round win against Baltimore.

As for Kansas City, it ranked last in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing a touchdown rate of 76.6 percent. Yet the Chiefs have held nine opponents to 20 or fewer points.

Two Chiefs playmakers, Sammy Watkins (calf) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) are practicing after missing the divisional round. Linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.

Vernon Butler (quad) and Gabriel Davis (ankle) did not practice Wednesday for Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

Sep 27, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll walks the field while wearing a mask prior to the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bills OC Brian Daboll favored for Chargers job

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has the inside track on becoming the next coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, according to ESPN.

Daboll would be replacing Anthony Lynn, who was fired in early January after posting a 33-31 record in four seasons. Lynn led the Chargers to a 7-9 record in 2020 after signing a one-year contract extension.

Daboll, 45, is one of nine candidates interviewed for the opening. He and Chargers general manager Tom Telesco were teammates at St. Francis High School in Buffalo.

If the Chargers intend to hire Daboll, they’ll have to wait for the Bills’ playoff run to end. The Bills host the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night.

Daboll began his NFL coaching career under Bill Belichick in New England in 2000 and has worked as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, along with a stint at Alabama in 2017. He was on staff for five Super Bowl titles in New England and a College Football Playoff championship with Alabama.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Offenses will be on display when Bills host Colts

The focus will be on whether Philip Rivers can outperform Josh Allen when the Indianapolis Colts visit the Buffalo Bills in Saturday’s AFC wild-card contest but perhaps the bigger barometer of a possible upset lies on the feet of Jonathan Taylor.

The Colts’ rookie is fresh off a monster game as he leads the seventh-seeded Colts (11-5) into the matchup with the second-seeded Bills (13-3) at Orchard Park, N.Y.

Taylor completed the regular season by rushing for a franchise-record 253 yards and scored two touchdowns on 30 carries in a 28-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has gained 741 yards over the past six games while displaying the form that had the Bills impressed leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft before Indianapolis tabbed him in the second round with the 41st overall selection.

“We gave him high marks all the way around,” Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier told reporters. “Everybody thought that he would be a real good NFL back. I don’t think any of our scouts or any of our coaches who had a chance to take a look at him on the offensive side were surprised at what he’s doing.”

Perhaps the lone hindrance is the shoulder pain Taylor is dealing with after his workhorse outing. He was a limited practice participant on both Tuesday and Wednesday but maintains he will be at full strength.

“Anytime you get 30 carries in a game, you’re going to have nicks and bruises,” Taylor said.

The Bills have had plenty of playoff hurt over the past quarter century — having lost their last six playoff contests since last winning a postseason game following the 1995 season.

Hopes are high that the drought will end after Allen emerged as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks this season.

Allen set franchise records of 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns as well as helping provide a new identity to a rising squad that posted the franchise’s best victory total since 1991, with the latter club advancing to the Super Bowl.

It is victories and postseason achievements that drive Allen, not gaudy statistics or MVP chatter.

“As quarterback of the team, your job is to move the ball and to score points,” Allen said. “So, when we’re not scoring points, that’s my biggest fear. It’s putting our defense in a bind if we’re not moving the chains on third down, again, that puts us behind the eight ball and we’ve got to punt the ball away.

“That’s what drives me. That’s what motivates me. I fear letting the guys who drafted me, this front office and this organization, down.”

Allen certainly has been helped by the presence of wideout Stefon Diggs, who led the NFL with a career-best 127 receptions while also accumulating a career-high 1,535 yards. The powerful duo has helped the Bills rank second in the NFL in scoring offense (31.3 points per game) while tying for second in total offense (396.4 yards per game).

Indianapolis ranks ninth in scoring offense (28.2) and 10th in total offense (378.1) behind the 39-year-old Rivers, who last week moved past legendary Dan Marino and into fifth place in NFL history with 421 career touchdown passes.

This is Rivers’ first season with the Colts but this contest could also be his last — either with the team or for his career.

Perhaps that is why Rivers (4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns) is feeling that extra dose of urgency.

“Certainly, I wanted to be part of a playoff team and a team that has a chance to win a championship,” Rivers said after Sunday’s game. “I definitely found out early that I was on that kind of team.”

Colts coach Frank Reich just wants Rivers to relax. In fact, he sees no reason for any of his players to be antsy.

“The pressure is not on us,” Reich said. “We should be loose, we should be aggressive, we should be freed up to just play our best game of the year against a really good football team because, in reality, no one is going to give us a chance.

“When you’re with this team the way I am day in and day out, you would know where I get the confidence to feel like we have the team to beat anybody in this tournament.”

That would rate as an accomplishment against a red-hot Buffalo squad that has won its last six games, including the past three by a hefty 29.3 average. In fact, the Bills would have 10 straight wins if not for losing 32-30 to the Arizona Cardinals on a game-ending Hail Mary pass.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Bills safety Micah Hyde, “because it made us a better defense, it made us a better team. We understood we should have won that game. … But, I mean, we were just rolling after that.”

–Field Level Media