Patrick Mahomes' status remains at the center of the lead-up to Sunday's AFC Championship Game, and each team should be expected to prepare for multiple scenarios.
While the Chiefs will have Chad Henne ready to go in case Mahomes cannot, their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, is also acting as if either will start under center in the conference title game.
"We've got work to do to prepare. Certainly have a lot of respect for Patrick and how he plays the game and what he adds to their offense," Bills coach Sean McDermott said, via NewYorkUpstate.com. "They're so good with the weapons they have around Patrick. Andy does such a good job -- they're well-coached, that we got to prepare for the system. We've got to prepare for both quarterbacks and that's why we have a lot of work to do this week."
Henne went from the source of surprise that he was still even in the NFL to the hero Sunday against the Browns, overcoming an ugly interception that could have changed the landscape of a tight Divisional Round contest to help Kansas City seal the victory over Cleveland. Henne completed 6 of 8 passes for 66 yards and scrambled for 13 yards on third-and-14, setting up a pivotal fourth-down call in which the Chiefs trusted the veteran to get the job done.
Henne proved Andy Reid's staff wise in going for it, firing a dart to Tyreek Hill on a quick out to pick up the first down and ice the game. Henne's composure and ability to rise to the occasion was not lost on McDermott's team, which isn't taking him lightly if he does end up playing Sunday.
The Bills have good reason to spend every possible moment preparing for this one. Buffalo fell to Kansas City in the regular season by a final score of 26-17, with the Chiefs racking up 466 total yards thanks to a banner day on the ground. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed 26 times for 161 yards to power a Chiefs offense that combined for 245 rushing yards.
Such a performance would all but guarantee the Chiefs a return trip to the Super Bowl. Buffalo knows it must be better if it wants to reach the sport's biggest stage for the first time since the 1993 season.
"We'll see. We've got to look at that and put a good, complementary plan together for how we want to play the game, and try and win this game," McDermott said of Buffalo's last meeting with Kansas City. "They're a really good opponent. They're balanced in all three phases and that's why they're the defending world champs. We have to have a good week of preparation."
Cleveland encountered similar struggles in its loss to Kansas City, allowing the Chiefs to tally 438 yards of offense in the 22-17 finish. If we've learned anything from the two aforementioned games, it's this: In order to beat the Chiefs, their opponent is going to need more than 17 points.
We'll see if the Bills can do what the Browns couldn't on Sunday.