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Bills at Chiefs Preview: Matchups, Storylines, Betting Lines and a Prediction

The rivals last met in the AFC Championship Game in January.

Revenge is not part of the Buffalo Bills' motivation leading to Sunday night's road clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Never mind that the Chiefs handed the Bills their only home loss last season, then beat them again in the AFC Championship Game.

THE BASICS

Game: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.

Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

Records: Bills 3-1; Chiefs 2-2.

Betting info: Chiefs by 2½. Over/under 56½.

TV: NBC.

Bills depth chart

Chiefs depth chart

INJURIES

Bills: DE A.J. Epenesa (foot), RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and LB Matt Milano (hamstring) are questionable.

Chiefs: DE Chris Jones (wrist) and CB Charvarius Ward (quadricep) are questionable.

ABOUT THE BILLS

Quarterback Josh Allen (99-for-157) has thrown for 1,055 yards and nine touchdowns against two interceptions. His top target, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, has 26 catches for 305 yards and led the league in both categories last season.

Running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have combined to average 4.8 yards on 84 carries.

The Bills also come in with a defense that is ranked No. 1 in just about every statistical category, including takeaways (11) and turnover differential (+7).

ABOUT THE CHIEFS

Former MVP Patrick Mahomes is the league's most dynamic quarterback (72.3 completion percentage, 14 TDs, four interceptions, 6.1 yards per rushing attempt) and has an arsenal of weapons with which to work, including wide receiver Tyreek Hill (30 catches, 453 yards, four TDs), running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (5.0 yards per carry) and tight end Travis Kelce (24 receptions, 312 yards).

The Chiefs are struggling defensively, with just six takeaways while allowing opponents to average 8.8 yards per passing attempt and 5.4 yards per rushing attempt.

STORYLINES

Coaches cut from same cloth

Perhaps no head coach in the NFL knows Chiefs head coach Andy Reid better than Sean McDermott, who served on Reid's Philadelphia Eagles staff from 1999-2010 before moving on to Carolina and eventually Buffalo as the Bills' head coach in 2017.

Reid's coaching tree is plentiful and full of success stories, including McDermott being able to turn the culture around in Orchard Park, make the playoffs in three of his first four seasons and make it to the conference championship game last season.

Naturally, it was Reid and the Chiefs who were standing in their way and sent them home with a defeat.

Aside from the principles of building rosters from the inside out and holding players accountable behind closed doors only, McDermott learned early that the best teams block out all outside noise, especially during inevitable stretches of adversity.

Yeah, that was big for me as a young coach," McDermott said. "I remember a few of those occasions when, you know, we were in a little bit of a dip and Andy's consistency brought us out of that. And then we went on to bigger and better things of course for many years there.

"So yeah, his leadership is an examples of one of the things I've learned from a consistency standpoint."

Addressing season-ending shortcomings

Even before the last Bill walked off the field in Kansas City last season, the powers that be in Buffalo knew what needed to be done: Improve the pass rush.

So what did the team do? It signed free agent defensive end Efe Obada before using its first two picks in the NFL Draft on edge rushers as well.

The result? First-round pick Greg Rousseau leads all the defensive linemen in tackles and is tied with veteran defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who opted out of last season, for the team lead in sacks.

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Second-round pick Boogie Basham contributed a sack in his first game as a pro last week.

Similarly, the Chiefs knew by halftime of their eventual Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay two weeks after beating the Bills that they would need to make changes to their offensive line.

They made wholesale changes, rolling out new starters at all five positions to begin this season.

Sunday night, we could get to see which unit improved the most every time Kansas City has the ball.

Bills' OL shuffle

Rookie tackle Spencer Brown started for the first time last week, with the former starter at that spot, Daryl Williams, moving inside to replace Cody Ford, who was benched.

Though they were far from perfect, they were part of a line that probably played better than it did in any of the previous three weeks.

So the plan for now is to ride this alignment and see how far they can go.

Though it's all subject to change from week to week.

So Ford and Ike Boettger, who started for injured left guard Jon Feliciano (concussion) last week, need to stay ready to go in. Same for Ryan Bates and rookie Tommy Doyle.

KEY MATCHUPS

Bills safeties vs. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill

Tackling may be more important than covering based on the damage Hill did after getting the ball in his hands in last season's conference championship game.

The Bills like to combine the blitz with a soft zone that keeps the ball from going over their heads. This can leave the middle of the field open and mean they need to get Hill down after he makes the catch. They didn't do that last time, and it may have made the biggest difference in the outcome.

Said safety Micah Hyde: "Obviously Hill can just take the top off any defense. You've always got to know where he's at at any given time, whether it's down the field, behind the line of scrimmage, anything, to be honest."

Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce

Edmunds is one of the rare linebackers in today's era of downsized defenses with the size and strength to match up against tight ends and is coming off arguably his best performance of the season after being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week in a 40-0 romp over Houston.

Kelce arguably is the finest tight end in the game today and bound for the Hall of Fame.

Edmunds will not be isolated with Kelce on every play, but on the few that he is, it will be fascinating to see how everything unfolds.

Bills LT Dion Dawkins vs. Chiefs DE Mike Danna

Danna leads a struggling Chiefs defense with 3.0 sacks and last week played 74% of their snaps at a position that calls for a rotation. That says a lot about his value.

Though he may be thought of as a one-trick pony because he has just nine tackles in four games, the trick is very, very good. Danna also leads the team with six quarterback hits.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Bills visit the Tennessee Titans next Monday night.

The Chiefs visit the Washington Football Team next Sunday.

PREDICTION

Regardless of how much each team is downplaying the importance of Sunday's matchup, this game could mean everything for both of these championship contenders by the end of the regular season.

It sure did when they met last season in Week 6, when the Chiefs won on their way to a 14-2 season and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Because the Bills finished 13-3, they had to go on the road with a coach who hasn't won a road playoff game to face a coach who also hasn't won a road playoff game since coming to Kansas City.

The Chiefs would seem to be more desperate here because a loss would put them two games behind the Bills, who also would have the tiebreaker for determining the home team in a playoff meeting.

Either way, you just get the feeling that these two offensive juggernauts are going to meet again in January.

Chiefs 38, Bills 33.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com.