One of the premier games on the NFL schedule takes place this Sunday, as the Buffalo Bills will return to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since January in a tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs. The two teams played one of the best playoff games in NFL history nine months ago, which ended in a thrilling 42-36 victory for Kansas City.
The Chiefs are coming off another exciting win last Monday against the Las Vegas Raiders, holding on by a final score of 30-29. The Bills throttled the Pittsburgh Steelers at home on Sunday 38-3.
Here are a few keys we will watch in a matchup that may decide the top overall seed in the AFC.
How Will The Bills Defend The Chiefs?
The finish of their AFC Divisional playoff game was absurd, and its one that Bills fans wish ended slightly differently. Buffalo played as well as a team possibly could on offense, and matched Kansas City until the very end point for point.
One of the big differences between this regular season game and their last matchup is the removal of Tyreek Hill from the equation. Hill had a monster game that day, and took a routine slant pass for a long touchdown with just over a minute to play in regulation. He would end up with 150 yards receiving on 11 catches and that one score.
Without his presence on the field, Buffalo may elect to play the new Chiefs receivers a little more tightly at the line of scrimmage. It will be fun to see whether JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marques Valdez-Scantling are able to create separation.
The Gabriel Davis Factor
A number of players had fantastic performances in the game last winter, but perhaps no one did more to announce his presence on the big stage than Buffalo wide receiver Gabriel Davis. Davis had a night for the ages, with 201 yards receiving on eight catches, with four touchdowns. For someone who came into that matchup as a role player, he emerged as a legitimate star.
Just in time for Sunday, Davis finally appears to be settling into this season from a health and effectiveness perspective. He’s battled a lingering ankle injury during the first month of the year, but seems to be close to 100% now. He had a phenomenal game against the Steelers on Sunday, catching two long touchdown passes.
With the memory of Davis burning them when it mattered most, keep an eye on the Chiefs’ secondary on Sunday. It will be a fascinating to see if they pay Davis special attention with Stefon Diggs on the other side.
An MVP Battle
Everyone knows how colossal of a game this is, even the league itself and its broadcast partners. To that end, there will not be another game played at 4:25 ET on Sunday, so that this Bills-Chiefs matchup can soak up all the ratings in that window.
With so much attention paid to this showdown, a memorable showing from Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes could help tip the scales in the MVP race this year. Allen has showed over the course of the last two years that he is not afraid to deliver big throws when it matters most, and has played well at Arrowhead Stadium. On the other side, if Mahomes can author a signature performance without Hill against another AFC powerhouse, he might be able to lock up the MVP.