On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Buffalo Bills. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Buffalo is favored to win. We welcome Matthew Byham of Buffalo Rumblings— our sister SBNation site covering the Buffalo Bills — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1. Be honest: are you over 13 Seconds?
No. Next question.
For real? Absolutely not—and I carry the weight of wide right and four Super Bowl losses… I’ve seen the Bills rise from nothing to build a Hall of Fame roster as a perennial championship team, to a playoff drought of 17 seasons where the number of changes at quarterback and head coach would make any Cleveland Browns fan shiver. Still, 13 Seconds is right near the top, next to Norwood’s misfortune and Homerun not a Throwback.* Last season’s team was on another level in the playoffs, and many fans were dialed in with the idea of hosting the Cincinnati Bengals for the rights to play in the Super Bowl — because there were only 13 seconds left! There was no way any team could get in position to force overtime in such a situation — until that was no longer true. There’s a lot of superstitious Bills fans, many of whom believe that “a portion of the Bills’ property may also reside on an early Native American settlement and burial site.” Most of Bills Mafia will tell you that the team constantly finds new ways to rip their heart out—and we love them just the same.
*In no way, shape, or form, was that a lateral or a legal play.
2. You’re a GM of a new team with the No. 1 overall draft pick. Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen? And why?
Have we the space to properly discuss this scenario?**
Do we know them the same as their original draft profiles? I really don’t want to answer this because I either disappoint Bills Mafia or look like a homer!
Truthfully, there’s no wrong choice. If they both remain in separate draft classes, I could theoretically find a way to draft both quarterbacks. Mahomes and Allen were each considered gambles, but both were drafted to different circumstances. Mahomes was considered ‘over drafted’ while joining a team ready to contend and replacing a fine quarterback in Alex Smith. Allen was a swing for the fences, based on his talent and intangibles as someone who would finally right the ship in Orchard Park, New York. The Chiefs certainly knew something — maybe they just really like baseball? The Bills, too, certainly knew something. Two teams saw plenty of reason to move up for their guy. It’s ironic that Buffalo is directly tied to Mahomes’s fate becoming a Chief, but there is history between head coaches Andy Reid and Sean McDermott. Cornerback Tre’Davious White was certainly a welcome addition to the team.
I think I draft Mahomes so Allen can still land in Buffalo. Bills Mafia waited a generation-plus for someone like Josh Allen. He IS Buffalo, and his appreciation and love for the community is as genuine as it gets. I will always want the city of Buffalo to experience success in pro sports because there’s been so much negative associated with the Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Legions of fans still bring up things that happened several decades ago — much of which many fans weren’t even alive to experience. Allen’s staying in Buffalo and bringing the people a Lombardi Trophy — even if it’s at the expense of my own franchise one season? Yes.
**Also, I’m only taking the job if I can choose where the franchise lands, and I’m going to hire Eric Bieniemy to be the head coach (Ken Dorsey gets to stay with Allen in Buffalo). I have a great uniform idea for Alaska but it’s too cold. I really would love to see a franchise in Vermont—again, their winters are a big deal. Hawaii seems perfect… sign me up!
3. The Bills have some injury concerns. Are there any potential replacement players the Chiefs could target?
The injury bug has bitten like no other under head coach Sean McDermott. The team has managed to ride it out thus far — thanks to a very deep roster loaded with starting talent at all levels. However, if Week 5’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is any indication, rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam should see plenty of passes thrown his way. He allowed rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to complete 10-of-13 passes for 126 yards against him. To Elam’s credit, he did nab his first NFL interception and didn’t give up a touchdown.
Elam’s extremely athletic (4.39 40-yard dash) with impressive size, so he may be asked to match up with tight end Travis Kelce. If so, he’s likely to receive help from linebackers Matt Milano and/or Tremaine Edmunds, as well safety Jordan Poyer (whose ribs injury is still an issue to sort out). Elam has a huge task ahead of him — especially while dealing with an ankle ailment and with Tre White still unable to suit up across the defense from him.
If Poyer is unable to suit up, then there’s even more opportunity for the Chiefs to expose certain inexperience in the Bills’ defensive backfield.
4. Do you believe the winner of this game secures the AFC’s No. 1 seed?
Another difficult question!
The Bills’ schedule, on paper, appears more in their favor down the stretch. But last season they won in Missouri in Week 5 and then went into mid-season slump where the head-to-head factor with Kansas City didn’t even come into play. I’d like to believe that’s the case — that winning Sunday determines the No. 1 seed. I just don’t know that I’m fully comfortable with the idea so early in the regular season. There are a lot of games left to play and an entire set of unknowns left to be answered. I think the winner Sunday establishes a leg up on their opponent. I believe the Chiefs and Bills are the best teams in the NFL — not just the AFC. Let’s hope these matchups continue to carry so much significance for years to come.
5. In the second half of that playoff game, the Bills’ offense was clearly more aggressive. Do you expect Josh Allen to carry that into this game?
I think Allen struggled with nerves and what the fanbase often refers to as “Hero Josh.” He’s on record saying he throws up before each game — I suppose to center himself. Whether it calms nerves or focuses adrenaline, he does it every game — as did former Bills running back Marshawn Lynch. Hey…’You do you,’ I say!
Allen also seems to thrive when the cards are stacked against him. He played out of his mind the second half of that playoff game, and really for the duration of the 2021 playoffs. He was on track to break all sorts of records. That said, I think Allen will operate within the frame that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey lays out for him. Allen’s shown an incredible ability to learn and adapt as a pro, and each week he continues to improve. There’s an element to Allen’s game this season we haven’t seen before, and it seems to thrive off willing an opponent into submission early and often — like a shark that smells blood in the water.
If necessary, I believe Allen will play lights-out from the first snap — and he’s more than happy starting on offense.
It’s crazy to see that the Bills are 2.5-point favourites in the Chiefs’ backyard. Do you like the line or do you think this will unnecessarily poke the bear?
I’m okay with it. I am a Bills fan and love that the team is doing great! I’m also not sure I agree with the DraftKings line. I understand the NFL is all about current trends, but this matchup goes beyond current trends. I think time will tell if there are nerves within the team based around Buffalo losing the way they did last time. If so, it could bite them where they can least afford it: coaching and quarterback play. I do still feel like this one comes down to the last possession — and Buffalo doesn’t have the best track record in one-possession games under McDermott. That sentiment earns a bit of an eye roll with Bills Mafia, if I’m being honest. But facts are facts. Unknowns and turnovers will forever be the ultimate equalizers.
I wonder if teams really care about Vegas lines. Does it motivate players the same way as trash talk? (Don’t ask Pete Rose or Calvin Ridley). I only know I’m not confident picking a winner or a final score. I just hope this is finally the Bills’ season to figure it all out.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.