The Buffalo Bills enter their Week 14 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs recharged and ready to tackle the difficult on-field task ahead of them. To have a realistic shot at advancing to the NFL playoffs this season, the Bills’ essentially need to win out. Even then, they may still need help. At this point, the only path is the well-worn “one game at a time” mantra. The margin for error went out the window, washed away in the soggy gale of Southern Philadelphia.
Over the course of the last eight seasons, the Bills have traveled to Arrowhead Stadium seven times. Since 2021, Buffalo has played four straight on the road against Kansas City, and they’ll add their fifth such game Sunday afternoon. The last time the Bills hosted the Chiefs came in 2020, during the COVID-19-altered season where fans couldn’t attend games.
The Bills are currently +1.5-point underdogs as the road team in their matchup with the Chiefs, per DraftKings Sportsbook. Last week the point was made in this space that winning was vastly important, given the remaining schedule. That didn’t happen and now urgency has ticked up a bit... landing somewhere around the idea that every game here on out is a playoff matchup. The good news is that the team finally had a week off, but it wasn’t a welcome pause for all.
Edge rusher Von Miller made the wrong kind of headlines last week when he was arrested following allegations of assaulting his pregnant girlfriend in a disturbing case of reported domestic violence. Miller turned himself in, posted his $5,000 bale and returned home. Hours later his girlfriend recanted her previous claims of assault, claiming “no one assaulted anyone. We’re fine.” To begin this week, general manager Brandon Beane told reporters that the team wasn’t suspending Miller, saying he would be available to play against the Chiefs in Week 14.
Then on Thursday, Tyler Dunne wrote an exposé on head coach Sean McDermott that near-thoroughly dismantled his tenure with the Bills, and which included interviews from 25 prior members of the team. Those interviewed included Patrick DiMarco, Lee Smith, and Isaiah McKenzie. Most concerning to readers among the more-than 25,000 word three-part essay was the report that in 2019 McDermott gave a speech during training camp that sought to use the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (reportedly, their communication) as a means to explain a football idea to players. Uncalled for, and uncharacteristic of the man most of us understand Sean McDermott to be.
The bye week couldn’t end soon enough.
In six seasons under head coach Sean McDermott, the Buffalo Bills are 6-0 following bye weeks. That stat should portend good things for Buffalo’s Week 14 chances in Missouri. Right? Not so fast. In a stat that applies wins to quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes carries a fantastic record according to an article by Devin Patra of NFL.com:
“Mahomes is 13-3 (written on September 15) in his career after a loss. K.C. has lost two consecutive games just three times since Mahomes took over as the starter (Weeks 15-16, 2018; Weeks 5-6, 2019; Weeks 2-3, 2021).”
Why is this important? The Chiefs lost in Week 13 to the Green Bay Packers. Barring a tie, one team is set to find disappointment in previously foreign territory. An outside observer might find favor with the Bills, given their week of rest and a healthier current roster heading into Week 14. But 6-0 is vastly different than the Chiefs’ current 16-3 record following a loss.
Like Buffalo, Kansas City is struggling a bit right now, and both clubs have finished 1-2 over their last three games. Despite their struggles, the Chiefs are in first place in the AFC West at 8-4 on the season. Unlike past years, things haven’t looked effortless on offense as evidenced by Kansas City’s league-worst rating in dropped passes. Different this season for the Chiefs is the play on defense — which ranks among the NFL elite in many metrics this season.
Whereas Kansas City continues finding ways to win close games most weeks, Buffalo is now 2-6 in one-score contests, and 6-6 on the season. Their latest loss of course occurred when Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts fooled the defense for a walk-off touchdown. With two weeks between the team’s heartbreaking loss in Philly and its quest for revenge in Kansas City, Bills Mafia is visibly on edge, ready to see the Bills turn it around and make something of a season that already reads like a disappointment.
When considering the off-the-field news about Von Miller and Sean McDermott, will it all prove too much for the Bills to overcome on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions? Not if they’re properly focused.
Against Philadelphia, interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady called a fantastic game — one that was let down both early and late due to execution. The worst of course being what should have been the perfect play call for a walk-off overtime touchdown pass on Buffalo’s opening possession of extra time. It was encouraging to see the offense humming so well against a stacked Eagles defense, and more of the same will go a long way on Sunday against the Chiefs. The Bills’ offensive line played great against the Eagles’ defensive line, with Josh Allen being sacked but one time (on what has become a very controversial call). If the O-line can hold up similarly, while also cutting out a few penalties, expect good things Sunday afternoon.
Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid has been a sensation, especially while being featured in 11 personnel (single TE look) packages. It’s clear that Allen trust him, and Kincaid’s play appears to help Allen establish a rhythm that’s proven important to his productive days in recent weeks. Whatever the reason it exists, going away from Kincaid in the second half of games shouldn’t happen. This weekend would be the perfect time to feature Kincaid during the entirety of a game, especially given Kansas City’s injury concerns at linebacker.
To this point in the season, the Bills have been one of the best scoring teams, while the Chiefs are one of the best at stopping opponents. Something has to give on Sunday.
In an always-hostile environment, Buffalo needs to avoid turning the ball over, while stealing a possession or two away from Kansas City. Where the Chiefs’ defense has shown deficiency is in stopping the run. Perhaps we see more out of both Allen and running back James Cook this weekend. Above all, McDermott needs to find his trust in Josh Allen and the offense, just as he’s found from the front office of One Bills Drive. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish — and too often Allen’s magic has been wasted due to no fault of or the offense’s own.
Can the Bills swiftly defeat the Chiefs, and ruin what’s become a pop culture love fest observing Taylor Swift cheer on Travis Kelce? As Time’s Person of the Year for 2023 recently stated: “Football is awesome” — so anything’s possible.