5 winners, losers from Chiefs' 27-24 win vs. Bills in AFC divisional round

Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City once again got the better of Josh Allen and Buffalo.

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It was yet another thrilling Patrick Mahomes-Josh Allen duel, but neither of the star quarterbacks delivered the final say.

On a 44-yard field-goal attempt with 1:47 to go in the fourth trailing 27-24, Bills kicker Tyler Bass sent his kick wide right.

The No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs held on to win 27-24 at the No. 2 Buffalo Bills to advance to the AFC Championship Game, where they will be at the No. 1 Baltimore Ravens.

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Let's analyze the thrilling game with five winners and losers:

WINNER: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

He didn't need to do as much this time around, but Mahomes remained efficient and composed in his first ever non-Super Bowl road playoff game. Much had been made about that fact, but Mahomes is the mini GOAT for a reason. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 215 yards, two touchdowns and no picks while also taking zero sacks.

Even though Kansas City's receiving core has taken a step back, Mahomes eliminates reasons to worry and continues to deliver. How he and the rest of the unit will fare at Baltimore, the best remaining defense, will be riveting to watch.

Mahomes also moved to 3-0 against Allen in playoff matchups. The Chiefs won the first two at home in the 2021 AFC title game and 2022 divisional round, but Buffalo could not capitalize at Highmark Stadium.

LOSER: Stefon Diggs, Bills

Allen played an incredible dual-threat game, but he was let down by his biggest weapon. Wideout Stefon Diggs recorded just three catches on eight targets for 21 yards, including a pivotal drop in the fourth quarter.

Dalton Kincaid caught five passes on five targets for 45 yards while Khalil Shakir caught seven passes on nine targets for 44 yards. Diggs, who signed a four-year, $96 million extension in 2022, has not delivered a 100-yard receiving game since Oct. 15 against the New York Giants.

Diggs will turn 34 by the time his contract nears its end, though Buffalo will be facing several questions on how it'll improve its core around Allen ahead of next season.

WINNER: AFC Championship matchup

Whichever team won this game, the quarterback battle in the title game would be immense. Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen versus Lamar Jackson is an elite duel, with the former making the matchup official.

Mahomes is 3-1 versus Jackson in regular-season meetings, though head-to-head records always need to be analyzed with nuance. Looking ahead vaguely, both quarterbacks are backed by elite defenses, though Jackson has the better supporting cast -- with Mark Andrews hoping to return -- and home-field advantage.

But games are not played on paper for a reason, so this could end up as one of the games of the season if everything lines up accordingly.

LOSER: Mecole Hardman Jr., Chiefs

The Chiefs could have very well lost this game after Hardman's rough night. The 25-year-old wideout fumbled twice, though only one was lost -- and that was due to the infamous touchback rule.

After stopping a fake punt at Buffalo's 30 yard-line, Kansas City got near the goal line until Hardman fumbled the ball attempting to cross the plane early.

The Chiefs led 27-24 at that point and were inches away from icing it, but they had to keep clawing to ensure the mistake didn't cost them the season.

Hardman ended the game with one catch on one target for two yards and one carry for minus-one yard. It feels safe to say head coach Andy Reid should limit his touches as they've done with Kadarius Toney.

LOSER: Bills on special teams

Perhaps Buffalo lost the game itself on special teams, as two plays ended in drastic results. The first came early in the fourth quarter when the Bills tried a fake punt from their own 30, but the Chiefs stuffed Damar Hamlin with just 10 men on the field.

Then came the aforementioned missed kick by Bass to potentially tie the game. Kansas City would run out the clock after that. Bass, a 2020 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Southern, went 24 of 29 in the regular season and 1 of 2 in this loss.

He also went 1 of 3 in the 31-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round, so the signs of him missing more was evident. Should Buffalo move on from him? That may prove difficult, given he signed a four-year, $20.4 million extension this past offseason.

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