Looking at the way each of the laast two seasons have unfolded, it seems inevitable that the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs would be meeting in the playoffs, which is exactly what has happened.
Last year in Kansas City, it was for the right to advance to the Super Bowl. This year at the same venue, it will be for the right to advance to the AFC Championship game, though the prevailing notion is that the conference championship will be determined Sunday night.
Last season, the Chiefs won in the regular season and again in the playoffs. This season, the Bills won in the regular season but are slight underdogs in the playoff rematch.
Here's a closer look:
Game: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs.
Date: Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m. (EST).
Venue: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Records: Bills 12-6: Chiefs (13-5).
Betting info: Chiefs by 2. Over/under, 54.
ABOUT THE BILLS
Quarterback Josh Allen last week set a franchise playoff record with five touchdown passes. He also became the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards, five touchdowns and run for over 60 yards in a playoff game.
Allen's favorite target has been wide receiver Stefon Diggs (team-highs of 103 receptions, 1,225 yards and 10 TD catches in the regular season), who has become the first in team history to surpass 80 catches and 1,000 yards for two straight seasons. Diggs also owns the league record for most receptions (230) by a player in his first two years with a team.
Diggs and left tackle Dion Dawkins were named to the Pro Bowl this season.
Running back Devin Singletary has scored two touchdowns in three consecutive games and eight total touchdowns in the last five games, including playoffs.
Tight end Dawson Knox in last Saturday's win over the Patriots caught a team-high five passes for 89 yards and two TDs. His 11 total TDs (including the postseason) leads all NFL tight ends. He had 49 catches, 587 yards and nine TDs in the regular season.
Wide receivers Cole Beasley (82 catches, 693 yards), Emmanuel Sanders (42 catches, 626 yards) and Gabriel Davis (35 catches, 549 yards, six TDs) were productive throughout the regular season.
Safeties Micah Hyde (74 tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries) and Jordan Poyer (93 tackles, five interceptions) led the back end of a unit that finished the regular season ranked first in total defense (272.8 yards per game), yards per play (4.6 yards), passing yards per game (163), passing yards per play (4.65), first downs allowed per game (16.7), third-down conversion rate allowed (30.8%) and points per game (17).
Poyer last week was named a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Hyde made the second team.
Linebacker Matt Milano had a career-high 15 tackles for a loss in the regular season.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS
Patrick Mahomes, their quarterback and 2018 league MVP, has 151 touchdown passes in 63 regular-season games and 22 touchdown passes in nine playoff games.
Working behind an offensive line that was completely revamped for the 2021 season, he has a multitude of weapons at his disposal, the most prominent being wide receiver Tyreek Hill (111 catches, 1,239 yards, nine TDs) and tight end Travis Kelce (92 catches, 1,125 yards, nine TDs).
Running backs Darrel Williams (144 carries, 558 yards, six TDs) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (119 carries, 517 yards, four TDs) have keyed their ground game, with Williams adding 47 catches for 452 yards.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones, who's been used a variety of ways, is one of two Chiefs defenders elected to the Pro Bowl this season. He leads the team with 9.0 sacks.
Their other Pro-Bowl selection is the honey badger, safety Tyrann Mathieu, who leads the team with three interceptions and is second in tackles (76) behind linebacker Nick Bolton (112), who also leads the team in tackles for losses (11).
Like the Bills, the Chiefs have a dependable kicking game. Harrison Butker is 25-for-28 on field goals and 47-for-49 on extra points.
Chiefs: CB Rashad Fenton (back) and RB Darrel Williams (toe) are questionable.
One point the Bills have made clear all season and drove home in last week's playoff win over New England is that it's all about them. Their best is better than anyone's else's, and it's really not even close.
They have the highest point differential in the league and own the league's top-ranked defense, their quarterback is a unicorn and they most recently became the first team in the history of the league to score a touchdown on its first five possessions of a playoff game, then kept the streak going to seven.
When they've won, they've won big. When they've lost, they've lost by one-score margins in every game except one.
One point the Chiefs have made for the last three seasons and drove home again in last week's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers is that the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through Kansas City.
They've established a standard of excellence since coach Andy Reid arrived that no team other the New England Patriots have been able to trump over the last two decades: Nine straight winning seasons, eight trips to the playoffs, three straight conference championship game appearances, two straight Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl championship.
If they win Sunday, it will head to their fourth straight AFC Championship Game.
But even if they bring their best to a shootout that the Las Vegas bookmakers have predicted with such a high total points betting figure, they won't be able to overcome the Bills, who are coming off their finest game of the Sean McDermott era.
Fittingly, McDermott learned more about being a head coach from Reid than from anyone else, which could make for an historic intersection on Sunday night.
The feeling here is that the Bills win by a close margin for the first time this season.
Bills 33, Chiefs 27.