Three Under-The-Radar Chiefs To Watch: Divisional Round

January 22, 2022

And now, eight teams remain; the Kansas City Chiefs are one of the few left to fight in the playoffs. Tomorrow night, they’ll be taking on the Buffalo Bills, who dominated the Patriots in their Wild Card game 47-17. In their last matchup, the Bills defeated the Chiefs 38-20 in Week Five, with Josh Allen totaling for four touchdowns on the day. The Chiefs have been on a hot streak as of late; this game will be entirely different than the one from Week Five.

With that said, while we always look out for the superstars, it’s the players who aren’t that big in the NFL that make a massive impact in the game. Here are three under-the-radar Chiefs players to watch for in the Divisional Round:

Jerick McKinnon, RB

Jerick McKinnon had an explosive game against the Steelers last, tallying 142 yards on the day (61 rushing, 81 receiving). He was a tank for the whole game, becoming the X-Factor of this electric Chiefs’ offense. With him backing up Clyde Edwards-Helaire this week, McKinnon is undoubtedly someone to watch.

Buffalo does have a good rush defense, ranking tenth in rushing yards allowed per game with 108.6 yards. However, McKinnon has shown to run the ball efficiently; furthermore, the Chiefs offensive line ranks third in run block win rate at 74% per ESPN. With Creed Humphrey’s, Joe Thuney’s, and the rest of the offensive lines performance, McKinnon can run easy knowing he has excellent blockers in front of him.

Also, don’t forget McKinnon will be a threat in the passing game, too. McKinnon can rack up many yards in the short passing game using his speed, acceleration, and agility to his advantage. He caught most of his passes in the backfield last week against the Steelers, with his catches totaling -25 yards (behind the line of scrimmage (LOS)). In totality, McKinnon had 106 receiving yards counting the ones gaining behind the LOS. Mahomes will target him a lot; be on the lookout for him this Sunday.

Tershawn Wharton, DT

I always have my eye on Tershawn Wharton. While his playing time fluctuates, he’s always been a solid contributor to the Chiefs’ defense. Last week against the Steelers, Wharton was good in the pass rush, getting a sack on Big Ben early in the game. Furthermore, Wharton was the second-highest graded defensive interior lineman in the Wild Card with an 89.5 grade per PFF; he was only behind Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald:

Wharton could have a solid game here against the Bills tomorrow if given the playing time he needs. He has improved over the past few weeks and will be vital in halting not only the Bills’ rushing attack but aiding the Chiefs’ pass rush. The Bills rank 23rd in run block win rate with 69% per ESPN; Wharton could get some critical stops in the Inside Zone attack, without a doubt. He’s someone to watch for on the Chiefs’ defense.

Byron Pringle, WR

The air raid will be vital for a Chiefs victory this Sunday; that’s where Byron Pringle comes into the fray. Now, when Pringle last played the Bills, he only had 11 yards; but he also tallied a touchdown. Pringle has shown drastic improvements in his game; in the last four games, Pringle has had two games with two receiving touchdowns (both against the Steelers).

If Travis Kelce and/or Tyreek Hill are covered, Pringle will be the guy Mahomes will be looking for. Speed and route running kill, and that’s what Pringle has brought to the table. He has also been highly valued in the deep game and the red zone, so expect him to get some targets there, too. He is another player fans should be watching for this week.

Which under-the-radar Chiefs’ players will you be watching for in the Divisional Round? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

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