Much like the Baltimore Ravens game a few weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs are set to face a team that's looking to get the proverbial monkey off its back with a win.
The Buffalo Bills have ascended to near the top in the AFC over the course of the Sean McDermott-Josh Allen era. A few months after losing to Kansas City in the regular season, Buffalo traveled to what was then known merely as Arrowhead Stadium last season with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, then was promptly outclassed by an injury-riddled Chiefs squad in the AFC Championship Game. Unlike many other contenders in the past, though, the Bills don't appear to be going away any time soon.
To this point in the 2021 campaign, the Bills have been the best team in the conference. Rookies are contributing, offseason signings such as wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are paying dividends and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's unit has been stellar. Allen, while regressing from his video game-like 2020 form, has still been dynamic and effective. Nick Fierro of Bills Central joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to emphasize just how significant Sunday's rematch against the Chiefs is for both sides.
It's no secret that the Chiefs and Bills have some of the best fans in the NFL. The home-field advantage that creates is legitimate and in a playoff environment, the odds are clearly in the home team's favor. Right now, Buffalo is in the driver's seat with a one-game lead over the Chiefs. A win on Sunday Night Football would not only give them a tiebreaker, but also a two-win lead five weeks into the season. While that wouldn't ruin the Chiefs' chances of recovering in time to secure the AFC's No. 1 overall seed, it would make doing so much more difficult and quite unlikely.
Conversely, a Chiefs win makes both teams 3-2 and levels the playing field. It also gives Andy Reid's team the tiebreaker advantage. And it generates some serious momentum after what's been a rocky start to the year for one of the league's most talented teams. If the Bills can't come away with an upset win in Week 5, it could come back to bite them months from now.
If there was ever a time for the Bills to make a statement and defeat the Chiefs, it's now. The Chiefs are vulnerable and are playing a huge game in front of their home crowd. A loss would send a clear message to the rest of the AFC that Buffalo means business. That importance cannot be understated.
For those reasons, I'd argue that the pressure is in fact placed more on the Bills than the Chiefs. Sure, the Chiefs need this one in order to maintain a realistic — or even likely — chance at gaining home-field advantage come playoff time. But the Bills have that need, too. They also have to get that monkey off their backs. Until they can accomplish that feat, their improvement won't truly pay off. An opportunity to do something special presents itself to both teams on Sunday.
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