There are certain matchups that seem to show up on the NFL schedule every year. For example, you will invariably see Peyton Manning facing Tom Brady every season until one of them retires. That’s just how the schedule works. It’s a constant, like gravity or Raiders fans behaving badly.
In the Chiefs’ case, the constant is the Bills. Every single year, the Chiefs somehow end up facing the Bills. Manning-Brady makes sense, because their teams always seem to finish on top. But Chiefs-Bills? It’s bizarre. It’s weird. It doesn’t make sense. The Chiefs have been up and down, and the Bills have been mostly down, but we still end up seeing the word "Buffalo" on our schedule every year.
Make no mistake: The Bills are still the Bills. Yes, it’s a different team than we’ve faced in previous years. But they’re still the Bills, and they’re still going to do Bills things. They’re yet another constant in the NFL universe: The Bills are the Bills.
First, the differences. And there are a few of them. These aren’t the Bills from, say, 2009 (even though their ultimate end result will likely be the same).
The differences in this year’s Bills team start with the ownership. Ralph Wilson, who had owned the team from the beginning, passed away during the offseason. There was much speculation that the team would move to Toronto, but the team was eventually sold to
Buffalo’s Savior wealthy investor Terry Pegula, who also owns the Buffalo Sabres. Pegula has promised to keep the team in Buffalo.
Since Pegula was announced as the owner, Bills supporters have gone crazy. There’s no doubt that Arrowhead provides the best fan experience in the NFL. But the Bills’ first home game after their sale certainly rivaled that experience.
Things have quieted a bit in Buffalo since then, but the crowd should still be rocking on Sunday, especially if the Bills appear to have a good chance at winning.
The Bills have had a lot of turnover in the last two years, especially on offense. The Chiefs won’t get the joy of facing second-year quarterback EJ Manuel, nor will they get to prey upon Jeff Tuel, the rookie who started against the Chiefs last year.
Kyle Orton is in the middle of the Kyle Orton process right now- slowly building up a fan base’s hope so he can crush it all in one horrible, awful performance when it matters most. The collapse probably won’t happen in the Chiefs game, but with Kyle Orton, you never know.
Unlike his time with the Chiefs, Kyle Orton actually has good receivers to throw to. These guys are all young, too. The Bills traded a small fortune for the right to draft Sammy Watkins, and when he’s not celebrating way too early (see above), he has the potential to be good- scary good. Robert Woods is the type of #2 receiver Chiefs fans would love to have opposite Bowe, and is only in his second year. Marquise Goodwin, another sophomore who burned the Chiefs last year for a long touchdown reception, doesn’t have a large role in the offense but could still blow by the Chiefs’ secondary if they aren’t careful.
The Bills also look different at running back, but that’s not really their fault. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both still around, but it’s unlikely either will play on Sunday. (Spiller’s on the IR, and while Jackson might suit up, he won’t be 100 percent.) That means the lion's share of the carries will go to Bryce Brown and Anthony "Boobie" Dixon - names which will strike fear in the hearts of any football fan.
But, the Bills are still the Bills
You might have noticed that the Bills have an identical record to the Chiefs and are right in the thick of the playoff hunt. This isn’t necessarily because the Bills are good, but because every few years, the football gods like to toy with Bills fans and give them hope that their team might make the playoffs.
Spoiler: They won't.
The signs are all there. Jackson and Spiller going down with injuries (in the same game!) Kyle Orton- again, Kyle Orton- being named a better option than their franchise quarterback. And, oh, right, their buzzsaw of a December schedule.
The Bills are going to lose at least three of those games, and they’re going to miss the playoffs. But the football gods are going to make it as painful as possible for them. They’ll have a chance to clinch a wild card against New England’s backups and Jimmy Garoppolo will lead a game-winning drive with 50 seconds left and no timeouts. Aaron Rodgers will torch them for 783 yards in a blizzard. They’ll probably lose to the Raiders, somehow.
But in order to make it as painful as possible, the football gods need to give the Bills hope. And that means, no matter how much we believe that the Chiefs should win this game, the Bills are somehow going to pull it out, for no reason other than to absolutely devastate Bills fans further down the road.
It’s cold-hearted and cruel for both teams, but the football gods merely snicker. The football gods want Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to meet in the playoffs. The football gods want Eli Manning to get hot in December and lead the Giants deep into the postseason, because it’s been a few years since he last did that. And to be fair, the football gods will probably allow the Chiefs to sneak into the playoffs... only to get blasted by the Colts again.
But the Bills are still, and always will be, the Bills. There will be no playoffs for them this year, nor the next, nor any of the years to follow. The Chiefs must, and always will, face Buffalo every year. No matter how this game plays out, both teams will finish either second or third in their division. We’ll be playing the Bills again next year, and the next, and many of the years to follow. The constants remain constant. Such is football. Such is life.