The Bills will face a familiar opponent in the Kansas City Chiefs for Sunday's AFC Divisional Round matchup. The teams have met six times including the playoffs since 2020. The Bills defeated Kansas City 20-17 in December to start their current six-game win streak.
The one big difference for this seventh matchup is that this will be Kansas City's first trip to Orchard Park since the two teams met at Highmark Stadium in 2020. This will be Kansas City's first road playoff game since facing the New England Patriots on Jan. 16, 2016.
Here are six storylines to get you ready for Sunday.
1. Bills-Chiefs playoffs rematch
These two have matched up in the playoffs a couple of times in recent seasons because of their regular season success. The Bills and the Chiefs hold the two longest active streaks of seasons with at least 10 wins—Kansas City has six straight seasons of 10 wins, and the Bills have five consecutive seasons.
This will be the third time the two meet in the playoffs with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes as the quarterbacks. It'll actually be the seventh time they face each other since the beginning of the 2020 season.
The last time the Bills and Chiefs were matched up in a playoff game was in the Divisional Round during the 2021 season. Yep, that's the 13 seconds game. Buffalo lost a heart breaker in overtime with a final score of 42-36. Neither team turned the ball over and both quarterbacks finished with passer ratings above 120.
Allen was 27 of 37 (73%) for 329 passing yards and finished with four passing touchdowns. Buffalo's QB totaled 397 offensive yards and a 136 passer rating. Mahomes was 33 of 44 (75%) for 378 passing yards and finished with three passing touchdowns and one rushing TD. KC's QB totaled 447 offensive yards and a 123.1 passer rating.
Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis had a career game with eight catches for 201 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Davis became the first player in NFL history to record four touchdown catches in a playoff game.
There were 974 total yards of offense, 53 first downs and just four penalties between the two in that game.
The Bills and Chiefs also met a season before that game in the 2020 AFC Championship. Buffalo beat the Colts and Ravens that postseason to find themselves just one win away from a Super Bowl appearance. The Bills had the lead against the Chiefs in the first quarter of that game but never got it back after Kansas City scored a few touchdowns in the second quarter. Buffalo lost that game 38-24.
Allen completed 28 of 48 attempts for 287 passing yards, had two passing touchdowns, one interception and finished with an 80.0 passer rating. Mahomes was 29 of 38 for 325 passing yards, had three passing touchdowns and a 127.6 passer rating.
The Bills have beaten the Chiefs in three out of four regular season matchups since 2020 but have yet to defeat them in the playoffs.
2. Injury updates
While the Bills were down several players heading into the Wild Card Round, they came out with unfortunately even more.
LB Terrel Bernard (ankle), P Sam Martin (hamstring), CB Christian Benford (knee), CB Taron Johnson (head), LB Baylon Spector (back) all suffered injuries during Monday's game against the Steelers. Martin was the only player that returned after suffering a hamstring injury.
CB Rasul Douglas (knee), WR Gabe Davis (knee), LB Tyrel Dodson (shoulder) and S Taylor Rapp (calf) missed Monday's game due to injuries they suffered during the last game of the regular season.
Sean McDermott met with media on Tuesday afternoon and announced Johnson is in the concussion protocol. McDermott also said he is taking things one day at a time with the group of injured players.
"We'll take it day by day and see how the week unfolds," McDermott told media.
When asked if Bernard's injury required further testing, McDermott said it needed more evaluation.
"I think just more, further evaluation, in terms of how he responds to the injury that he sustained last night," McDermott said. "So, we're just taking it one day at a time right now."
3. Two of the most talented quarterbacks facing off
We get to watch two of the best quarterbacks in the league face off against each other on Sunday night. It'll be best on best, and these two never disappoint when they play one another.
Allen (24) and Mahomes (26) are the only two quarterbacks who have at least 24 total touchdowns in their first nine playoff games. In Allen's nine career playoff appearances, he's averaged 2.7 total touchdowns per game, 281.9 passing yards per game, 336.4 offensive yards per game (most in NFL history) and has a 101.6 passer rating.
In Mahomes' 15 playoff games, the QB has also averaged, 2.7 total touchdowns per game, 289.7 passing yards per game, 318 offensive yards per game (2nd most in NFL history) and has a 105.7 passer rating.
The two have impressive stats when the games matter most. We've seen 13 total touchdowns between the two of them in two playoff appearances against each other. Allen and Mahomes each had four a piece the last time they played each other in the postseason.
In the six times they've played each other, they each have three wins. Allen has averaged 269.2 passing yards per game, while Mahomes has averaged 301.5. Buffalo's QB has 15 passing touchdowns to three interceptions, while Kansas City's QB has 13 passing touchdowns to five interceptions in those games. And they each have passer ratings above 98 when they face off.
Even if it's chilly, we will likely see more of that on Sunday evening. Whether it's on the run or in the air, they make plays that few can replicate, and their athleticism is what sets them apart from rest. They're the engines that keep both teams winning.
4. The key to slowing Patrick Mahomes and company
Kansas City's offense looks a little different this year as their scoring has been down from previous seasons. The Chiefs averaged 21.82 points per game (15th) during the regular season. But, Sean McDermott isn't letting the statistics fool him as he still has a ton of respect for KC.
"When you look at what Patrick Mahomes has done over the course of his career, in particular in the playoffs, he's the catalyst for that offense, as well as Andy (Reid)," McDermott said. "They've got a great pairing there and they've done a great job over the years and have been very successful. We have a lot of respect for what they've accomplished and what they've done this season."
Mahomes finished the regular season top 10 in passing touchdowns (27), completion percentage (67.2%) and passing yards (4,183). Their leading producers on offense were running back Isiah Pacheco (935 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns), tight end Travis Kelce (984 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns) and wide receiver Rashee Rice (938 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns).
"(He) does a lot with the ball in his hands and can get behind a defense rather quickly," McDermott said of Rice.
With a defense that has had quite a few injuries over the last two games, many at the linebacker position, former Bills center and current radio analyst Eric Wood thinks the key to slowing down Mahomes and his weapons begins with the defensive line.
"If they're able to get home this week, neutralize the line of scrimmage against the run with this Chiefs run game and then in obvious pass situations, really apply pressure to Patrick Mahomes, this Bills defense can be successful against this Chiefs offense," Wood said on One Bills Live.
Buffalo's defense finished the regular season ranked top 10 in sacks and quarterback hits—54 sacks (4th most) and 110 quarterback hits (6th most). Since 2020, in home playoff games, Buffalo's defense has been tough to play against as they've allowed just a 75.6 passer rating (3rd over that span), totaled seven takeaways (tied for 2nd most), 13 sacks (3rd) and 34 quarterback hits (2nd).
5. Finding success against a Steve Spagnuolo defense
The Chiefs finished the regular season as one of the best defenses in the NFL and proved they can be that in the playoffs as well after allowing just seven points in the Wild Card Round.
The defense has been one of Kansas City's biggest strengths this season. They're led by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo who knows how to pressure quarterbacks and keep offenses on their toes. Sean McDermott knows the DC quite well as the two overlapped in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2006.
"He's done a great job with his career, and he's taken a lot from Jim Johnson's (Eagles defensive coordinator from 1999-2008) pressure schemes and made them his own and put his own signature on it," McDermott said of the DC. "And he likes to give the offense a lot of different looks, a lot of different fronts, a lot of different pressure looks. He does a great job scheming. And then they have some exceptional players, namely 95 (Chris Jones) up front who creates a lot of pressure just on his own. So, great scheme, some great players and it'll be a big challenge."
The Chiefs blitzed at the fourth highest rate in the regular season doing it 37% of the time. They found success with it as they totaled 57 sacks (2nd most) and 119 quarterback hits (2nd). Kansas City also allowed an average of only 17.3 points per game (2nd least), 289.8 total yards per game (2nd), kept teams from scoring touchdowns on 50% of their red zone trips (8th) and allowed a league-low 46 plays of 20 or more yards. They have two defensive linemen in Chris Jones and George Karlaftis who both had double-digit sack seasons (10.5).
While Spagnuolo might have a new plan for Buffalo on Sunday, the Bills did find a way to score on them during the regular season as they beat the Chiefs 20-17 in Week 14. Buffalo relied heavily on running back James Cook in that game as he led the team in rushing and receiving yards. Cook had five catches for 83 receiving yards, 10 carries for 58 rushing yards and one receiving touchdown.
The Chiefs ranked 18th against the run allowing an average of 113.2 rushing yards per game this season, which is one category where they rank low compared to others. If the Bills decide to lean on their run game, they're coming off a game where they rushed for 179 yards and lead the NFL from Weeks 10-18 averaging 154.9 rushing yards per game.
6. Get ready for more (mid-week) snow
Just when we thought it was done snowing, Mother Nature decided on making Western New York like living in a snow globe.
Orchard Park is expected to get way more than just a dusting over the next few days. According to AccuWeather, one to three inches are supposed to accumulate on Wednesday and OP will get an extra three to six on Thursday. It's looking like there could be an extra inch or two on Friday as well. If you add it all up, we could see up to another foot of snow between Wednesday through Friday at the stadium.
When asked if the snow could affect a short practice week, Sean McDermott said they have a plan in place.
"We've got a plan in place to make sure we're getting the players in at the right time, as well as the staff, and trying to be on top of that from a scheduling standpoint," McDermott said. "So we'll handle it, confident in that. And the best thing we can do right now is just have great communication around it."
Looking at the weekend, weather reports are saying there will be a little snow in the morning on Saturday and possible flurries on Sunday afternoon. Temperatures are looking like a high of 26 degrees and a low of 18 on game day with WSW at 16 mph.
Since 2017, Sean McDermott is 11-1 in games (including playoffs) that are 32 degrees or below at kickoff.