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Top 6 storylines to follow for Bills at Chiefs | Divisional Round

Josh Allen runs and leaps over L'Jarius Sneed. Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, October 10, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert
Josh Allen runs and leaps over L'Jarius Sneed. Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, October 10, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

After both teams scored more than 40 points in their Wild Card games, the Bills and Chiefs are heading on to the Divisional Round. And let's be honest, it wouldn't be the playoffs without having to beat Kansas City to stay alive.

Here are six storylines follow this week leading into the showdown in Kansas City.

1. Plenty of recent history between the Bills and Chiefs

Death, taxes and facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the postseason. At this point, just put it on the schedule for next season. This will be the fourth matchup between these two over the last two seasons. So far, the Chiefs have the lead with two wins in the last three games against the Bills, including last year's AFC Championship.

"We've got a lot of respect for them," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said. "Obviously, they beat us, knocked us out last year. I think they have won five consecutive playoff games at home at Arrowhead Stadium, so it'll be a big challenge for us."

McDermott is correct. The Chiefs are riding a five-game win streak in home playoff games. In addition to that, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has 18 playoff wins, which is the fourth-most in NFL history.

Buffalo does own the most recent win against Kansas City. The two played each other in Week 5 and the Bills won 38-20. In that game, the Chiefs turned the ball over four times, which included two interceptions by Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo's defense also held all receivers and running backs under 70 yards besides Mecole Hardman.

Familiarity between the two teams will play a role for Buffalo coaching staff this week, but Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier doesn't want his staff relying too much on past experiences.

"They've seen us a few times in a short period of time, and we think we know them fairly well," Frazier said. "So, you don't want to just overdo it when it comes to strategizing and putting together a game plan. You want to make sure you're doing the things that you do well, and that you're able to go out and execute."

They'll without a doubt go into Arrowhead with plan they're confident in and the AFC Championship loss on their minds. It's what fueled many of the players through the offseason as they prepared for this season and another opportunity to make it back to the AFC Championship.

2. Why Allen-Mahomes is the NFL's new premier QB rivalry

Big games feature big time matchups. This week all eyes will be on the quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Regarded as two of the best young arms in the NFL, this QB matchup is developing into the modern day Peyton Manning-Tom Brady rivalry.

Let's start with Allen. He became the first Bills quarterback to throw for five touchdowns in a postseason game after Saturday night's Wild Card victory. The Wyoming product also has four playoff games with at least 250 passing yards and 50 rushing yards, which is the most in NFL history. Let's not forget Allen said he accidentally threw a touchdown pass against the Patriots, which ended up being Dawson Knox's first touchdown catch.

"He'd be the first one to admit he's always looking to get better and improve," offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. "That's the fortunate thing about dealing with a good player like Josh is his mindset of he's never satisfied with anything that he does, and that's a hard quality to find sometimes."

I'm sure Mahomes shares that with Allen based on how he tries to do anything and everything to help his team win. His accolades speak to that, and he's already checked Super Bowl Champion, MVP and four-time Pro Bowler off his list. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Mahomes is the type of quarterback that keeps you up at night.

"He's just a terrific athlete who can make throws from anywhere at any angle; there really is no defense for that," Frazier explained. "You've just got to hold on and hope you can make some plays along the way. But he's going to make some plays, getting out of the pocket, running for first downs, making weird throws off balance."

Allen and Mahomes under the lights in the Divisional Round will definitely make for some exciting football, and don't count out the accidental touchdown based on how they can sling it.

3. Buffalo's secondary is up for its toughest test

Patrick Mahomes is a great quarterback on his own but what makes him even better is the unique weapons Andy Reid has placed around him. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce aren't your average wide receiver or tight end. Hill is a wide receiver who can do it all in the passing game and run game. He had the third-most catches (111), seventh-most receiving yards (1,239) and ninth-most touchdowns (9) during the regular season.

"He's arguably one of the top receivers in the league," Sean McDermott said. "He gets deep, he does it underneath with the run after catch throws, screens and reverses. He's extremely dangerous."

Buffalo's defense will also have to worry about Kelce who is known to turn it on in the playoffs and has seven 100-yard games in postseason contests, which is the second-most in NFL history.

"Patrick has a number of weapons and obviously Travis is one of them, maybe the premier tight end in our league," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "His ability to be able to be flexed out like a receiver, play in the core and be able to block at times, he's an excellent player and we'll have to do everything we can to contain him."

It's not just Kelce and Hill. The Bills defense will have to account for players like Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Clyde-Edwards Helaire, if healthy. Frazier believes it could be the toughest test yet for his secondary who has been without starting corner Tre'Davious White since Week 12.

"They definitely present challenges to any defense, and we won't be any different," Frazier explained. "We'll have to really be on top of our game to try to slow them down. They are a really good offense for a reason."

Frazier's defense finished as the best pass defense (allowing just 163 pass ypg) and top-three in takeaways (30), but they will certainly be tested without one of their best players in White on the field.

4. Is the Chiefs defense still vulnerable?

Let's go back to the beginning of the season when the Chiefs lost three of their first five games of the regular season. It wasn't the dominant Chiefs that people were used to. Teams, including Buffalo, were scoring on Kansas City with ease and the Chiefs were turning the ball over frequently. In Week 5, Buffalo beat Kansas City by 18 points in a game where points were easy to come by and the Chiefs turned it over multiple times.

But that sloppy play didn't last. Kansas City figured it out, and after its Week 7 loss to the Titans, it won nine out of 10 games to end the season. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier knows they Chiefs will look different this time around.

"They're not giving away the football like they were earlier in the season," Frazier explained. "That really comes to mind. Their defense is doing a great job of taking the ball away and assisting them from an offensive standpoint. So, I think the combination of the offense taking care of the football and the way their defense has come on, they've really become a more complete team."

A complete team is a scary team. But the Bills are also playing some pretty complete football right now. And just like Buffalo's defense has been tasked with stopping a bevy of weapons, Kansas City's defense will be charged with doing the same. To Kansas City's Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Clyde-Edwards Helaire. I raise you Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox, Emmanuel Sanders and Devin Singletary.

When the Bills played the Chiefs in Week 5, KC was allowing 31 points (31st), 437 total yards (31st) and 26.5 first downs (31st) a game. From Week 8 to 18, the Chiefs allowed only 16 points a game (1st) and had 22 takeaways (1st). That means Kansas City's defense isn't as vulnerable anymore, and Buffalo's offense will have to fight to get into the end zone.

5. Mutual respect between Andy Reid and Sean McDermott

The coaching tree story of Andy Reid and Sean McDermott is well-documented now since these two have played each other multiple times in recent years. McDermott had the opportunity of coaching under Reid when he was the head coach of the Eagles from 2001 to 2010.

McDermott has plenty of respect for Reid and learned a lot from him, especially during the one season he spent as Reid's assistant.

"The level of organization that Andy had and displayed every day," McDermott said of one thing that he took from Reid. "Having a plan is one thing, having a visual is one thing, but Andy had a day-to-day plan of how he wanted to accomplish that vision, and yet he was very consistent. I was very young when I started there, so I kind of grew up around Andy in that way, so he just does a great job of leading in that regard."

Over the last two seasons, McDermott has mentioned a countless number of things Reid has taught him when they were in Philadelphia together. Although, the one thing he didn't carry over is Reid's sense of tropical fashion.

6. Weather watch

Don't worry, Bills fans. The weather for Sunday night looks immaculate. Grab some sunscreen because you might need it. Just kidding. But it will actually be a lot warmer than Saturday night's game against the Patriots.

Right now, the high for Sunday during the day is 42 degrees and the low is 25 with 5 to 10 mile per hour winds. Sounds like the perfect weather to air it out.

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