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Josh Allen
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Football Daily Dose

The Chiefs and Bills fall into Cover-2/OL holes, Stafford joins them

by Rivers McCown
Updated On: November 8, 2021, 9:19 am ET

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You love to read it when you somehow had the foresight to start or avoid these players, you hate to read it when it's time to figure out what happened: It's The Week In Confounding Fantasy Football! Welcome to the week where we review how every good offensive team in the NFL was shut down this week by unheralded opponents!

Josh Allen flounders as the Buffalo Bills are held to six points by the Jacksonville Jaguars

How did this happen? Well, there are two real answers to this question. One of them is that the Bills, like the Chiefs, are beginning to get exposed by two-high safety looks. Miami brought some of this to the game against Buffalo last week but backed off in the second half once the game was in the balance and they had to start gambling. The Jaguars, who have been one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL this year, played entirely off-brand for them. That intersected nicely with a breakout game for Josh "Not the Quarterback" Allen, who had a sack, a pass defensed, two tackles for loss, an interception, and recovered a fumble. 

The Bills were also without several offensive line starters and wound up playing the disastrous Cody Ford and Ike Boettger on the interior, The Jaguars racked up four sacks and eight quarterback hits on Allen, including two sacks by Taven Bryan, of all people. Listen to enough defensive coaches talk and they'll tell you there aren't a lot of better schemes than getting pressure while rushing four. The natural response to two-high is to run more to get teams out of two-high; Buffalo's backs combined for 22 yards on nine carries.

Who can we blame for this? Honestly, probably the Chiefs. I know a Bills fan or two who are driven wild by the attention that Patrick Mahomes gets in comparison to Allen, but the success teams are having slowing down Mahomes has a lot of coordinators wondering about how that will port to other teams. It feels like Buffalo is taking a stray here. Well, actually they started the two-high trend on Mahomes, so maybe they just have themselves to blame? Save that for the playoffs next time? 

What's our takeaway? Well, you're not going to stop playing Allen. Buffalo still generated plenty of yards, and the loss was more of a red zone aberration than it was a long-lasting verdict that Buffalo is doomed. All the wideouts played up to expectations. But things might be more methodical for the Bills while they figure out how to stop it. I think Dawson Knox's recovery would be a big step for a team that could use a little extra beef up front. 

Patrick Mahomes flounders as the Kansas City Chiefs are held to 13 points by the Green Bay Packers

How did this happen? How did it happen? The same way it's happened for the last lackluster month of Chiefs offensive football. Mahomes threw for just 166 yards on 37 attempts as the offense continues to have problems moving the ball methodically with Tyreek Hill deep balls taken out of the equation. Since Hill's 186-yard, three-touchdown effort in Week 4, he's been targeted 63 times and his longest completion has gone 19 yards. Some of that might be the nature of his injury that Hill played through, but a vast majority of it has been defensive schemes, poor offensive line play, and Mahomes holding on to the ball to try to make something happen.

mahomesnodeeps
NFL Next Gen Stats

The Chiefs simply could not crack the Cover-2 shell often enough to get anything going, and with Travis Kelce being intently held at the line of scrimmage, they're lacking a yards after the catch creator. 

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Who can we blame for this? The Bills. But also every other team Kansas City has faced. The Packers kind of helped by fielding such a non-competitive offense that the Chiefs never really felt any pressure to get back on track in the passing game either, and Darrel Williams produced 77 total yards on 22 touches. Oh, and we can always blame Mecole Hardman, who continues to get shoe-horned into everything the Chiefs do despite an obscene amount of physical and mental errors.

What's our takeaway? I can't believe I'm typing this, but the Raiders have had a pretty effective pass rush this year. Would you consider streaming someone else over Patrick Mahomes? Are we at that point now, five weeks into a sequence where Kansas City has gone over 20 points once in five games? I was never the guy who drafted Mahomes this year, so I can't speak for you from personal experience, but the fact that we can build any kind of a case for it is pretty damning on its own. I don't have any doubts that Mahomes will bounce back to the true talent monster he is, but that is a long-term thought, not a thought you want to rely on when you're 4-5 heading into Week 10. 

Dak Prescott's back-to-work party is spoiled by the Denver Broncos

How did this happen? It's never a good omen for the Cowboys when stud left tackle Tyron Smith sits. Smith missed two non-Week 17 games in 2019 and the Cowboys scored 24 or fewer points in both and lost to the Jets. The Cowboys had their worst offensive result of the season in Week 8 with Smith missing half of the snaps. (Oh, and without Dak, I guess that's important too.) And against Denver, yes, Dak took two sacks but moreover the pressure the Broncos generated without Von Miller was real. They managed five quarterback hits. 

More than the earlier teams on this list, though, Dallas was hurting mostly because of a lack of execution in key spots. The Cowboys had zero points in the first three quarters, but they also were stuffed on fourth-down attempts three times in their first six series. Both CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper had key drops.

Who can we blame for this? Well, the tone and tenor coming out of the locker room was that the Cowboys weren't physical enough and that they had a bad week of practice. So, I guess Mike McCarthy booked a little extra time in the massage booth this week? Denver absolutely came out possessed on defense and they took it right to the Cowboys. They deserve quite a bit of praise for this performance, particularly their run game as they held a 41:12 to 18:48 time of possession lead. Short possessions aren't a problem when you execute. When you play like the Cowboys did on Sunday, you leave yourself little margin for error.

What's our takeaway? I remain unworried about Prescott until I see a pronounced trend. I think he's played really great football this season, and he's done it at all levels of the field. I also find a matchup with a Falcons defense that starts players you've never heard of very tasty as a rebound spot next week. 

James Conner can't keep getting away with this

How did this happen? How did James Conner create three touchdowns against a live defense while Colt McCoy was under center? Well, part of it was that the Cardinals embraced short-passing as an ethos and the 49ers simply struggled to deal with it. McCoy only threw three passes deeper than 10 yards on 26 attempts, and he threw 11 different targets behind the line of scrimmage. It was a screen game that dominated, which is where Conner's third touchdown came from:

Conner has mostly been a boom-bust runner with Arizona this year, though some of that is tied up in his goal-line work. But with Chase Edmonds taking a surprise exit early due to ankle injury, Conner took over majority control of the backfield and had a 13-yard touchdown carry and another 39-yard run. Once Arizona established a 14-0 lead, Conner was simply bruising the 49ers while wearing out the clock.

Who can we blame for this? Well, what the media doesn't want you to know is that James Conner is the main character of the NFL this season. The other players? Mere ruses. It's like the Truman Show, but if the Truman Show was about a decent running back who was always hurt until 2021. We can blame Chase Edmonds for his inability to stay healthy in this game, and we can blame the 49ers for a continued inability to play their best players or do anything but have Jimmy Garoppolo throw leak routes until he's down multiple scores. 

What's our takeaway? Listen, Arizona's remaining schedule isn't very tough from a run-stuffing point of view and they desperately need Conner to keep things going while the core of the team heals up. The Panthers were gashed on the ground this week. Seattle has been victimized by weak running attacks like Pittsburgh. The Lions are on here. What if James Conner is just having the season of his life, and what if he can keep getting away with this? 

Rivers McCown

Rivers McCown has been writing about football since 2009, most notably at Football Outsiders and covering the Texans for The Athletic. He most recently wrote that thing you just read. He hails from Houston, TX, and has not been traded to Arizona for magic beans yet. You can say nice things about him on Twitter @riversmccown, and you can yell at him on Twitter @RotoPat.