The Buffalo Bills head to Missouri this weekend to face the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of last January’s all-time NFL Divisional Round playoff game. While it may be impossible to live up the expectations from that game, the quarterbacks on either side have the right stuff to transcend beyond it. Yes, the stakes may appear smaller this time around since Buffalo’s Week 7 bye isn’t for rest before a Super Bowl. But a win for either side provides what could become the ultimate leverage for establishing home field advantage next January.
That’s all to say it’s Chiefs Week here at Buffalo Rumblings. As such, I had a chance to chat all things KC football with Tom Childs, editor at Arrowhead Pride. Having discussed earlier this week who might be the Bills’ biggest rival, I was curious who Chiefs Kingdom views as the Chiefs’ biggest rival. Plus, we get a bit into a certain rule change that came about after these last two teams met, and also what could be at play for both defenses on Sunday. Of course we bring up wide receiver Tyreek Hill—and with good reason. Is there a way to mitigate the damage that quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce inflict on red zone defenses? Certainly, there are 30 other fanbases that would love to know the answer.
Read on for all that and more, in what was a wonderfully candid interview with Tom for this week’s supersized edition of Five Questions!
1. In what was perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason, the Chiefs dealt wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. How has KC’s offense adapted to life without Hill?
I think they have adapted really well, to be honest.
Losing a player like Tyreek Hill obviously changes things for the Chiefs. The guy is a stud and was probably heading for Canton had he stayed in Kansas City. Yes, that is a dig at Miami.
However, the way the Chiefs have transitioned into life without Hill has been admirable. Kansas City leads the league in scoring, which is crazy considering the loss of the ‘Cheetah.’ They’ve done this by adopting an extremely balanced approach. By balance, I don’t just mean run-pass—I mean by receptions, too. On Monday night, nine different players caught passes from Patrick Mahomes.
No two plays look the same—Andy Reid has done an excellent job of keeping defenses on their toes.
2. I think it’s fair to say that the Bills and Chiefs are near mirror images of each other, at least on offense. But it’s a different story on the other side of the ball, to most observers. Do you think the Chiefs will find continued success against the Bills’ defense, and can KC’s defense slow down Buffalo’s offense?
The addition of Von Miller is a frightening one for us. The Chiefs’ tackles have struggled at times this season with speed rushes, so the thought of Von Miller lining up across from offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. does make me a little scared, despite the narrative of the Chiefs owning Miller.
The Las Vegas Raiders found a ton of success in the first half of Monday’s game because they were able to get to Mahomes and quicken the play. This led to Mahomes challenging his offensive line and my oh my did they respond. As we saw in the second half against Vegas, Mahomes can move the ball on any defense, if his protection holds.
The Chiefs’ defense has improved dramatically since these two teams last met. Just look at their secondary for example... Sorenson, Ward, Mathieu have all departed and have been replaced by veteran safety Justin Reid and a plethora of hungry rookie cornerbacks. This unit will also be boosted on Sunday by the pending return of cornerback Trent McDuffie.
Up front, the Chiefs are a lot more dangerous than in years past. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is having the season of his life, Nick Bolton is filling gaps better than any linebacker in the league, and defensive end Frank Clark is setting run edges that belong in the Louvre.
But for all of the talk of improvement, we will have to wait until Sunday to see if the improvement is genuine.
Perhaps Gabe Davis will only catch 3 touchdowns this time?
3. Anyone who pays attention to the NFL knows that Travis Kelce is Receiver 1, and that he’s going to be Patrick Mahomes’s focal point in the red zone. So, how in the world do Kelce, Mahomes, and Reid/Bieniemy continue to confuse defenses and find so much success in the more difficult part of the field—especially if the perceived element of surprise is absent?
The meaning of life? What came first, the chicken or the egg? How do you stop Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce? These are questions that will forever be asked and almost certainly will never be answered.
If I knew the answer to this question, I don’t think I would be sitting here answering questions for DraftKings and SB Nation. In fact, I imagine I would be dressed in blue on Sunday with a headset on while standing next to head coach Sean McDermott—all while earning millions of dollars.
Honestly, though, I don’t know how. As years have gone on, Kelce just seems to be getting better and better. He’s now 33 and still looks just as fit and healthy as he did when he was 28.
But what makes the current version of Travis Kelce so dangerous is the fact that he has now added touchdowns to his game. Through five weeks he already has seven scores. That’s only four short of his career-high.
4. During last season’s playoff game between Buffalo and KC—a game for the ages—the ending brought about a fairly significant rule change. Certainly, Bills Mafia supports the change 100%. How would you say the majority of Chiefs Kingdom feels about the new overtime rule?
First things first, I agree with the rule change.
Why couldn’t they have changed the rule back in 2019 when the exact same thing happened to us? We (being the Chiefs) tabled for the exact same rule change after Tom Brady marched down Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, yet nothing was done about it. I suppose Kansas City did benefit eventually in the end because of the lack of movement back in 2019—I just hate the fact that the Chiefs had to be the bad guys that finally changed things.
5. It’s hard to recall a more enticing regular-season matchup than Week 6’s Bills-Chiefs, and the point spread seems to reflect that idea. Is the current DraftKings line (KC +2.5; 54 total points) surprising given the teams’ identical records and similar tendencies for offensive fireworks?
I must admit, it’s weird seeing Patrick Mahomes as an underdog, let alone a home underdog.
I think the line is probably about right, all things considered. The Chiefs’ new crop of receivers are still trying to find their way, while the Bills’ receivers are gashing teams through the air for fun. Plus there is the revenge factor—so yeah, I get it.
That being said, anytime #PissedOffPat can be activated, I’m all for it. There isn’t a better quarterback in the league at using narratives or slights to fuel his game. So if Patrick Mahomes does explode on Sunday night, Bills Mafia can blame Vegas.
6. Bonus question 1 of 2! This week, we asked Buffalo Rumblings readers to sound off about who the Bills’ biggest rival is. Clearly, there’s a large segment of Bills Mafia that thinks it’s the Chiefs (KC did keep Buffalo from advancing to Super Bowl I; the Bills did so to Montana’s Chiefs for SB XXVIII). Who would you say is Kansas City’s biggest rival, and why?
It depends on what you’re looking for in a rivalry, right? If you’re looking for that historical type of rivalry that occurs every single season, then you’re likely to go for a divisional opponent. In this instance, it would obviously be the Denver Broncos or the Raiders.
But if your achievable aspirations are to win a championship, then surely a rival should be defined by who are the potential teams/individuals that genuinely have a chance of keeping you from reaching your goals. Tom Brady’s biggest rival was never Chad Pennington or Jeff Tuel—it was always Peyton Manning. For the Chiefs, the Broncos and Raiders aren’t even in the conversation—but the likes of the Bills, Baltimore Ravens and maybe even the Los Angeles Chargers certainly are.
Personally, I tend to lean towards the second definition, so right now the Bills are absolutely one of the Chiefs’ biggest rivals, if not the biggest.
7. Bonus question 2 of 2! I’m baffled. Why hasn’t Eric Bieniemy received a head coaching job yet?
Aren’t we all, Matthew. Aren’t we all.
I think we all can appreciate Tom’s sentiment of not wanting the Chiefs to wear the “Bad Guy” crown that resulted in a significant rule change. I suspect more Bills fans are weighted down by the 13 seconds that necessitated a fifth quarter—and that much to do with their own team before even considering Kansas City. I believe it’s difficult to cast those jewels in KC’s direction since they were just playing within the guidelines of the game. The Chiefs are a hard team to dislike, for many reasons—“chief” among them being Chiefs Kingdom.
My thanks to Tom Childs for taking the time to chat all things Bills-Chiefs ahead of this weekend’s heavyweight bout! Head on over to Arrowhead Pride to read my responses while in the hot seat.