So, they meet again, but with the stakes a bit toned down compared to the last time, some 260 days ago.
If the Chiefs beat the Bills Sunday night in Kansas City, it won’t secure them a spot in the Super Bowl. The same is true for Buffalo.
The circumstances were different last January when the two teams met in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium, the same place in which they will reunite Sunday.
The Chiefs won that AFC title game, but lost to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. The Bills went home for the offseason, watched the Super Bowl on TV and waited for another crack — both at the Chiefs and, more importantly, at a Super Bowl berth.
As the teams prepared for the highly anticipated rematch, everyone involved tried to downplay the hype.
“It’s Week 5,’’ Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters during the week. “Everyone wants to make this big deal about the AFC Championship rematch, and I get that’s what it is, but it’s a new year, the team is different than last year, their team is different than last year.
“It’s the biggest game on our schedule because it’s the next one, and that’s how we’re approaching this game. I would assume that they’re thinking the same thing.’’
The Bills enter the game flying high at 3-1. They have won their past three games and have shut out two teams with their top-ranked defense, most recently a 40-0 win over the lowly Texans last Sunday.
Conversely, the Chiefs have struggled defensively and are 2-2 and stunningly in last place in the AFC West after a win over the Eagles last week. Kansas City’s defense is ranked 31st in the league.
“What happened in that game does not affect this game,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “Those are two separate games, two separate teams. So, what we’ve got to do is get ourselves ready for this game coming Sunday.”
The Bills are averaging 33.5 points per game, which is second in the NFL, while allowing just 11 points per game, which is No. 1 in the league. They lead the league in takeaways with a plus-7 ratio.
Buffalo is fifth in the league in rushing, producing an average of 145.3 yards per game, an attack led by Devin Singletary, who has rushed for 259 yards and a touchdown, and Zack Moss, who has 145 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The Bills’ defense has allowed 68 yards per game on the ground, the fourth-lowest in the NFL.
As well as Buffalo has been playing, the Bills are wary of a Kansas City team that’s still finding its footing to the season and ended a two-game losing streak last week. The mediocre 2-2 record is not lulling anyone to sleep in Buffalo.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them. [Chiefs coach] Andy Reid always has his team ready to go,’’ McDermott said.
“They’re the gold standard what you would want to be as an AFC team. [Going] to the AFC Championship the last three years and competing for Super Bowls is what they’ve been doing,’’ Allen said. “That’s what every team wants to be, and until somebody knocks them off in the playoffs, that won’t change.”
This game, while it remains a possible AFC Championship preview, is very much about the star quarterbacks — Allen for the Bills and Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs.
“What you see with Josh as he gets better and better every single year, is he’s not satisfied with where he’s at,’’ Mahomes said. “He’s definitely gotten better and better each and every year, and I’m sure we’ll have lots of battles as both of our careers go on.”
Reid, after the Chiefs beat the Eagles, said the uncharacteristic two-game losing streak “bothered everybody.’’
“These guys take that personally,’’ Reid said. “They’ve had success and want to get back doing the things they know are correct, and we weren’t doing that. It was important that we buckle down and do better, and that’s what we did.’’
The Bills, who believe they have some unfinished business in Kanas City, are expecting an ornery Chiefs team playing at home on national TV.
“Of course, we hated the way that it ended last year,” Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs said.
“Obviously [that game] is in the back of our minds, but we know what we have to do as far as focusing on ourselves,” Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said. “You have to think about the things you know you have to do better.’’
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