On Sunday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills will once again go head-to-head on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. It will be the fourth consecutive time that the two teams will have met on the Chiefs’ home field.
Ever since the 2022 NFL schedule was announced, this game has been viewed as one of the season’s biggest matchups. That hasn’t changed. Many believe that the game will ultimately decide which team will be playing at home in the postseason. But for the first time with quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the starter, the Chiefs are home underdogs in the matchup.
“It kind of is what it is,” shrugged Mahomes when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. “Our job is to go out there and find a way to win the football game. It’s a tough place to play — at Arrowhead. They’ve won here before, but we’ve also handled business before. So it will be up to us to go out there and handle business when it comes on Sunday.”
By any reasonable standard, that will be a difficult job for the Kansas City offense — because the Buffalo defensive line is fearsome. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that under defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier — who coached under Reid during his first few years as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles — the line is playing “hard and aggressive” football.
“If you look at all their positions, they’re solid,” observed Reid. “There are good players at all the positions. You don’t see a lot of weaknesses there. They’re well-coached. They understand the scheme — I mean, they’ve been doing it now for a while, and they’ve got it.”
Reid’s former assistant has been with Buffalo since 2017. He’s now in his third year as the defensive leader under head coach Sean McDermott — who spent 10 seasons as one of Reid’s Eagles assistants.
“He’s done a great job — a phenomenal job,” said Reid. “That’s a unique place to coach, in that it’s a smaller town [that is] very passionate. I think they respect the game up there and understand the game. I think they really appreciate what Sean’s brought to them.”
Mahomes will also be looking across the field at a good friend: Bills quarterback Josh Allen. But when the opening whistle sounds, neither of them is likely to be thinking of their friendship.
“When you go up against the other great quarterbacks in the league, you always want to win,” noted Mahomes. “You always want to compete. Josh is a great guy. He’s a great quarterback. [He’s] physically talented. He can throw on the run. He can really do it all. But he’s a great dude, too. Obviously, when we’re on the football field, we want to beat each other’s teams. But I have a total respect for him — and the player (and person) that he is.”
Kansas City safety Justin Reid shares Mahomes’ respect for Allen.
“He’s tough,” said the veteran safety, “because he’s a big guy. Just tackling him one-on-one, he’s like around 240 pounds. Very good arm talent; [he] can make all the throws, throw it 90 yards down the field. And in a scenario [where] you start paying too much attention [to] his wide receivers, he’ll try and run the ball, too. So there’s a lot to prepare for.”
Mahomes, however, is a lot more concerned about one of the Bills’ offseason acquisitions: pass rusher Von Miller. The former Denver Broncos’ star will be suiting up for his 19th game against the Chiefs. He’s collected 13 sacks against Kansas City — two of which put Mahomes on the ground.
“Von’s a special player,” declared the quarterback. “He’s a Hall-of-Famer — a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. He’s won two Super Bowls because of his leadership — and obviously his play. You have to know where he’s at on every single play.”
According to Mahomes, there’s a good reason for that.
“He’s a Texas guy,” he grinned. “Those Texas guys know how to play football.”
But the two teams have more in common than players from Texas. Justin Reid noted that both teams would be playing an opponent that will look much like a team they routinely see in practice: the one made up of teammates on the other side of the ball.
“There are a lot of similarities between us,” observed the safety. “Superstar quarterbacks that can beat you with their legs [and] beat you with their arm. A talented receiving corps. Defensively, the schemes are very similar.
“So we’re both familiar with how our organizations play ball — offensively and defensively. A lot of the coaching staff may have worked together at one point or another, too. This is a familiar opponent — especially in years past — for this organization.
“We already know that it’s going to be one of the most exciting games of the year.”