James Cook, Buffalo Bills running game will be x-factor vs. Chiefs

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

In this Sunday's big showdown between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, the expected highlight between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen will be the biggest storyline. Will Mahomes bring the Chiefs back to the AFC championship for a fifth consecutive season, or will Allen dethrone the Chiefs and get the Bills back to the conference championship for the second time in four years?

This is the first road playoff game for Mahomes, and the script couldn't have written it any better than having this game be in Buffalo. While all of the attention is on Mahomes vs. Allen, an important key factor to keep an eye on is the Bills' rushing attack between James Cook and Ty Johnson/Latavius Murray.

With running back Leonard Fournette being released from the practice squad, it will be between Cook and either Johnson or Murray to establish the run against this Chiefs' defense. Last week against the Steelers, Cook carried the ball 18 times for 79 yards and Johnson had 8 carries for 26 yards.

Since Week 6, the Chiefs have given up 100+ rushing yards in all except two games. Those two games where they did not allow the running game to get going was against the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Even though the Chiefs' defense has been the best under Mahomes since he took over the starting quarterback job, the run defense is still getting blown up.

On the other hand, the Bills have rushed for no less than 105 yards in a game since Week 10 against the Denver Broncos. Those games included Cook going wild and Allen getting involved on broken pass plays.

Whoever whill be the RB2 next to James Cook will have a crucial role in setting the tone for the game. Establishing the run not only keeps the Bills in charge of the clock, but keep the ball out of Mahomes' hands.