Bills vs. Chiefs preview: Everything you need to know in Week 6

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Written by John Sparaco

In 2020, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs proved to be the class of the AFC. In 2021, it was the same story, although neither team made it to the Super Bowl. Through five weeks in 2022, these two teams seem to be in a league of their own once again.

Both sitting at 4-1, the winner of this Sunday’s game will sit atop the conference as the number one seed. Every other team in the AFC already has two or more losses. As of now, it feels almost inevitable that the Bills and Chiefs will meet again in the playoffs. While the outcome in January will be what is ultimately remembered, winning this game now can put either team in the driver’s seat to gain home-field advantage as the higher seed.

This will be their fifth matchup against each other since the beginning of the 2020 season. Buffalo is traveling to Kansas City for the fourth consecutive time. Of course the two playoff games took place at Arrowhead Stadium because the Chiefs were the higher seed. In the regular season, however, the schedule depends on two factors: divisional rotation and same-place finishes. 

By default, the Bills are scheduled to face the entire AFC West division once every few seasons. The location of those games flips every turn, so in 2020, the game was in Buffalo, and next year, it will be in Kansas City. When the Bills are slated to play another division set, such as the AFC North this year, they still face the same place finishers from other AFC Divisions. Since the Bills and Chiefs keep winning their divisions year after year, they always end up on each other’s schedule. Unlike the divisional rotation, the location of same-place finish matchups stays the same for two straight seasons. That is why the 2021 and 2022 regular season games have both been in Kansas City. This will flip to Buffalo in 2024 and 2025, after their divisional rotation game next season.

Buffalo is fresh off two momentum-building games. In Week 4, they came back and won against a tough Baltimore Ravens team after trailing 20-3 early on. In Week 5, they won much more comfortably, dismantling another AFC North team – the Pittsburgh Steelers. For a moment, it appeared that they were going to start slow for the second straight week after botching the opening kickoff return and beginning at their own two-yard line. However, on third down, quarterback Josh Allen connected with wideout Gabe Davis on a deep ball for a 98-yard touchdown, which tied a franchise record for longest offensive score in team history. The last time that happened was 13 years ago when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pass to Terrell Owens for the same distance in Jacksonville.

From there on out, it was an onslaught. The Pittsburgh defense had no answer for Allen’s arm or legs, as he finished the game with 466 total yards and four touchdown passes in about three quarters of work, which earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the eighth time in his career.

Kansas City recently mounted a 17-point comeback win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football, just like the Bills did two weeks back. This goes to show that as long as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are on the field, no lead is safe until the clock runs out.

Top storylines

  • Another chapter in the rivalry: It’s no secret that these two teams have history. After the Bills lost to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship in 2021, they returned to the same field in the Divisional Round this past January, where their season ended once again. In the final two minutes, the lead changed hands four times. Allen and Mahomes rapidly traded scoring drives back and forth in one of the most impressive quarterbacking displays in NFL history. After Allen put the Bills back on top with 13 seconds left, a number that continues to haunt them, Mahomes put the Chiefs in field goal range to send it to overtime. The Bills lost the coin toss and the rest is history. It is widely referred to as one of the greatest games of all time, earning the Best Game award at the ESPYs. The fact that Allen was not allowed a possession in overtime after the Chiefs’ touchdown was heavily criticized by fans, leading to a rule change in the playoffs. Allen vs. Mahomes has cemented itself as this generation’s Brady vs. Manning, becoming must-see TV for football fans across the globe. The two have become great friends off the field but will share a fierce rivalry on the field for years to come.
  • Miller time: Buffalo’s inability to stop Mahomes defensively inspired them to go out and land a difference-maker on that side of the ball this offseason. They brought in a premier pass rusher in Von Miller, who has already transformed this Bills defense in a short period of time. Through his first five games, Miller has recorded four sacks, giving Buffalo the pass-rushing threat they have lacked for a long time. Miller is no stranger to the rivalry with Kansas City, having played in their division for a decade. “I’m just naturally a Chiefs hater. I’m not afraid to say that,” Miller said with a smile on Wednesday. The former Denver Bronco has 13 sacks in 18 career games against Kansas City.
  • No more Tyreek: One notable difference in the makeup of this Chiefs’ team is the absence of Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason. Buffalo, like many other opposing defenses, struggled to slow down the dynamite combination of Mahomes’ arm and Hill’s speed. Hill finished with 150 receiving yards and a touchdown as one of Mahomes’ go-to weapons in their Divisional Playoff game. Now that Hill is gone, Mahomes has turned a new cast of weapons, including Marquez Valdez-Scantling, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Skyy Moore. The always-reliable Travis Kelce is still at tight end, which always poses a problem for defenses, as evidenced by his four-touchdown performance on Monday night. Kansas City’s offense can still light up a scoreboard without Hill, but the cheat code of his speed has changed the dynamic a bit.
  • Getting healthier: For the first time since Week 1, the Bills’ injury report is encouraging. Players expected to return this weekend include cornerback Christian Benford, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, tight end Dawson Knox, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and safety Jordan Poyer. The only player designated as questionable is defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who reaggravated his hamstring injury in his return last Sunday. Core special teamer Jake Kumerow was ruled out in advance with an ankle injury. Additionally, Bills star cornerback Tre’Davious White practiced with the team this week for the first time since his ACL tear last Thanksgiving. While he won’t play against Kansas City, his return should occur shortly after next week’s bye.

Impact matchups to watch

Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis vs. Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson

The Chiefs will be without starting cornerback Rashad Fenton (hamstring) and first-rounder Trent McDuffie, who remains on injured reserve. As a result, they will likely start two rookie corners on the outside while L’Jarius Sneed mans the slot position.

Joshua Williams was drafted in the fourth round out of Fayetteville State while Jaylen Watson was taken in the seventh round out of Washington State. Watson has played a lot in the early stages of the season, recording the team’s only interception to this point. Williams has served in more of a rotational role, despite his higher draft status. Both players have good length for their position, each standing at 6-foot-3. Early in their respective careers, they are in for a serious test this week against arguably the most explosive passing offense in the NFL.

Stefon Diggs is off to another elite start this season, averaging over 100 yards per contest with five touchdowns in five games. Starting on the opposite side is someone who might worry Kansas City even more. The last time these two teams met in January, Gabe Davis finished with a career-high 201 yards on eight catches, scoring an NFL playoff record four receiving touchdowns. While they kept Diggs in check, Davis kept the Bills’ offense humming. 

Davis battled an ankle injury for a few weeks, limiting his production in recent games. That changed last Sunday when he finished with 171 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions. After the 98-yarder to open the game, Davis made a one-handed catch, outmuscling All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for a 62-yard score. Both star wideouts surpassed the 100-yard mark last week, in addition to strong complimentary performances from Khalil Shakir, Isaiah Hodgins and Quintin Morris. Adding Dawson Knox and Isaiah McKenzie back into the mix this Sunday will make Buffalo’s air raid offense even more difficult to solve for a mostly inexperienced Chiefs secondary.

Von Miller vs. Orlando Brown Jr.

Starting Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. had a rough showing against the Raiders on Monday Night Football. He struggled to keep up with the speed rushing ability of Chandler Jones, who consistently forced his way into the backfield. That being in mind, Von Miller may be the scariest possible matchup for him.

At age 33, Miller still has an elite first step and can drop and bend his way into the pocket in the blink of an eye. Miller’s arsenal of crafty pass-rushing moves is a major reason why he is the NFL’s active sack leader with 119.5 in his career. This may present serious problems for Brown, who has a history of getting beat by the speed rush even prior to Monday night. Brown acknowledged that he even sees Miller’s impact rubbing off on his teammates, who have thrived as a unit since his arrival.

The added success of Greg Rousseau, DaQuan Jones, Boogie Basham and AJ Epenesa has changed the way the Bills play defense, allowing them to blitz less and get after the quarterback with a four-man rush. Being able to do this successfully against Mahomes can be a game-changer, but it will be up to Miller to lead the way.

How to watch

Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST on CBS. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will be on the call with Tracy Wolfson reporting from the sidelines; the same broadcast crew as last week. The Bills will be wearing white jerseys and white pants. Weather will not be a concern, as the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies.

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