This weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Buffalo Bills on NBC’s Sunday Night Football in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game. After falling behind 9-0, the Chiefs came out on top 38-24 to advance to their second Super Bowl in as many years.
In the offseason, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen agreed to a six-year extension with the Bills worth up to $258 million. $150M of that is guaranteed. Allen had a very good season in 2020, but had been very inconsistent up to that point in his career.
So far this season, Allen has been good but not great. His completion percentage is around 61%, compared to 69% last season. His QBR is sitting at 57.1 when it was 81.7 last year. He’s leading an offense that is ranked 20th in offensive efficiency, so Buffalo has been very average through the first quarter of the season.
As a team, the Bills have been on a roll since their season-opening Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve won their last three games by a combined score of 118-21, they’ve shut out two of their opponents in that stretch of games and their defense has looked excellent.
Unfortunately for the Bills, the quarterbacks they faced the past three weeks were Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke, and Davis Mills. Those three quarterbacks started the season as backup quarterbacks (Mills was viewed as a third-string quarterback) and would likely be backup quarterbacks on just about any other team in the NFL. Those quarterbacks are not anywhere close to being at Patrick Mahomes’s level, and that is who the Bills face Sunday.
Mahomes is completing 72% of his passes this season, his QBR is currently at 83.0, and he leads a Chiefs offense that is No. 1 in offensive efficiency. The Chiefs have two of the best receiving weapons in the league in wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games behind an offensive line that seems to be jelling together a few games into the season. The Chiefs are also adding wide receiver Josh Gordon to the mix. This will be a completely different beast for the Bills defense to try to contain.
For Allen and the Bills offense, they have to be excited to face the Chiefs defense who has been very underwhelming to start the season. The Chiefs have looked better against the run the past few games, yet they continue to give up big plays. The red zone defense has been very bad, but it finally got a couple of stops last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Chiefs' defense was also very close to getting a couple of turnovers last week. The defense can begin to change the narrative if it can force Allen into making some mistakes and giving the ball away a few times. This would also give the Chiefs a huge lift during the game and a great chance to come away with a victory.
Many people are saying the Bills are currently the best team in the AFC. The Chiefs' players have been hearing the noise all week. Vegas still thinks the Chiefs are the favorites in the AFC and the Bills have been hearing all week about how they haven’t beaten Mahomes. There's no doubt that both of these teams will be ready to go at kickoff.
This game will tell us a lot moving forward and there are potential playoff implications on the line. Whichever team wins will hold a tie-breaker over the other when it comes to playoff seeding. With only one team earning a bye in the new playoff format, and with an extra regular season game being played in 2021, getting the No. 1 seed will be even more important than ever before.
Overall, this game is probably more important for the Chiefs. A loss would give the Chiefs a losing record again for the second time this season. It would also put them even further back in their own divisional race. As mentioned above, it would most likely knock them out of the conversation as the one-seed.
The Bills have a lot on the line as well, but a loss wouldn’t be backbreaking. Their division is absolutely terrible and they should sleepwalk to the AFC East title. This is a “get over the hump” type of game for Allen, like Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert were able to have against the Chiefs earlier this season. A win would set the Bills up as favorites in the AFC moving forward. Even if they lost, they would still be favorites in their division but it would knock them down a peg in the AFC power rankings.
If all things are equal between the two teams, there is one wild-card the Chiefs have over the Bills this weekend: a home crowd, at night. Fans will have all day to get ready for this one and they will not disappoint in a prime-time matchup between two prime-time teams.