For the third time in four postseasons, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills are facing off as at least two of the remaining four AFC teams. That doesn’t even include the matchups in four consecutive regular seasons, every game featuring the same quarterback and same head coach for each side.
At this point, these teams know each other as well as division rivals. That’s how Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones feels, previewing this week’s Divisional round matchup by acknowledging it.
“There’s no secrets,” Jones told reporters in a press conference Wednesday. “We’re very familiar with the Bills and how dynamic their quarterback (Josh Allen) is, such a competitor... Their game has improved throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs. I think they are hitting their peaks and making strides with their team with where they’re at right now. Tough team.”
In Week 14 of this season, Buffalo entered Arrowhead Stadium at 6-6, then exited with a season-defining win by a 20-17 score. The Chiefs’ defense held down Josh Allen for the most part, but it only takes one slip up here or there for the playmaking quarterback to make you pay.
“He’s a warrior,” Jones remarked. “You look at the plays he made last time we played them; he was going out of bounds and ended up throwing a 40-yarder running out of bounds off his back leg. He’s tough to bring down, a couple of times we had him wrapped up, and he still got rid of the ball.”
Defensive end George Karlaftis will be helping Jones get to Allen. In Week 14, Karlaftis earned a sack, his first and only sack of Allen over the two career games he has seen him.
“Josh is a beast,” Karlaftis told Aaron Ladd in the locker room on Wednesday. “He’s a phenomenal quarterback, he can make all the throws, and he’s a great athlete. He has all the weapons too, has a great offensive line to protect him, so we have our hands full. He’s a big guy, so he’s hard to bring down; you have to get two or three guys on him sometimes.”
Allen’s size and ability to evade tacklers is nothing new to the Chiefs, but the strength of pass protection may. The Chiefs have faced the Bills with injuries to the offensive line in the past, but Karlaftis has noticed that won’t be the case this time.
“They have guys all over,” Karlaftis said of the Bills’ offensive front. “Their tackles are great, their guards are great, they have a great center, paired with a great quarterback. I think they’ve had the same starting five all year now, so we got our hands full as a defensive line, but I think we can get after him.”
That line will be looking to open things up for Bills’ running back James Cook, who torched the Chiefs in this year’s matchup with 141 total yards, 83 of them coming through the air. He was a crucial part of Buffalo’s win in Week 14, and Chiefs’ defenders didn’t forget that.
“He can run the ball, but he can also catch the ball,” Jones reflected. “They’ve been using him as a significant piece since the new offensive coordinator has been involved. He has been catching a lot of bombs lately, he’s fast enough. He’s a scat back, but he can also get downhill and get them four to five yards a carry if he needs to.”
Cook is one of the team’s newest weapons, and even he still feels familiar to Jones. These teams know each other well, which should lead to an intense, hard-fought playoff game.
Like Jones said, there are no secrets, so it truly will be the better football team that wins on Sunday evening.