Enterprise

Bills, Chiefs set for 2021 AFC title game rematch – Press Enterprise

By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Stefon Diggs walked off the field inside Arrowhead Stadium in October with two very distinct feelings: elation that his Buffalo Bills avenged an AFC title loss to the Kansas Chiefs City and the belief that they would meet again.

Get ready for the final game between two of the league’s top teams on Sunday night.

After a near-perfect 47-17 loss to New England last weekend, Diggs and the Bills return to Kansas City for the divisional round of the playoffs. And await them are Patrick Mahomes and the top-flight Chiefs, who turned their season around after a lackluster start and then strangled Pittsburgh, 42-21, in their wildcard clash.

“They have all the talent in the world,” Diggs said. “They played at a high level. They’ve been to the Super Bowl twice. They’ve got a hell of a quarterback, a hell of a receiver, a good defense, they’re a great team.

Turns out he wasn’t the only one anticipating another confrontation, either.

“We will probably play them a lot of times. It will be a great competition,” Mahomes said, “and it will certainly be a great challenge for us as a team to compete against them.

Indeed, it’s hard to find a game with more star power than this one.

Josh Allen threw five touchdown passes against the Patriots to set a Bills playoff record, while Diggs and resurgent running back Devin Singletary give him plenty of playmakers. On the other side, Buffalo’s defense along with All-Pro safety Jordan Poyer and running mate Micah Hyde led the league in just about every significant statistical category.

Buffalo, which has lost eight consecutive playoff games away from home, scored in each of its first seven practices against the Patriots and became the first NFL team to complete a playoff game without punts, goals on the pitch or turnovers.

“It’s hard to have a perfect game,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, “and they did a good job last week.”

As for the leaders? Well, they’ve just won their last five playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium.

Mahomes became the first player to throw for at least 400 yards and five touchdowns with fewer than 10 misses in the playoffs during last week’s romps past Pittsburgh. His familiar targets, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, did most of the work as Kansas City’s suddenly solid defense held the Steelers to 44 yards in the first half.

Add to that the fact that the two teams know each other intimately — Bills coach Sean McDermott even spent most of his formative years working for Reid in Philadelphia — and the scene is set for an engrossing game.

“We don’t want to have that feeling we had there last year. We know our season ended there last year,” Allen said, “and now we have to do everything in our power to move forward and make sure it doesn’t end there this year. .

REMEMBER WHEN

The Bills were 4-1 and riding high after their 38-20 win at Kansas City, when Dawson Knox’s 117 yards tied the third-best tight end in team history. Then they lost five of their next eight games, a slide that began when Knox broke his right hand in a 34-31 loss at Tennessee.

Buffalo bounced back as they closed with four straight wins to clinch their second straight AFC East title. That run coincided with Singletary giving Buffalo a more balanced offense with 456 rushing yards over its last six games.

WHITE STILL LOOKING

Buffalo is without playoff-best cornerback Tre’Davious White after suffering a season-ending knee injury in a 31-6 win at New Orleans on Thanksgiving night. Levi Wallace resumed his work against the main threat of the opposition while second-year cornerback Dane Jackson took the other starting position.

Poyer said he received a text from White on Tuesday night, which read, “Hey, we must be going crazy. The best in the world.”

REQUIRED

Buffalo coordinators Leslie Frazier (defense) and Brian Daboll (offensive) are both attracting attention to fill head coaching vacancies. Daboll met the Chicago Bears on Sunday and the two assistants met the Minnesota Vikings.

CHECKUP

The Bills only listed defensive end Mario Addison as limited to practice with a shoulder injury, while the Chiefs had running back Darrel Williams (toe) and cornerback Rashad Fenton (back ) missing in training.

Otherwise, both teams should be healthy when they take to the field on Sunday evening. That includes Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is expected to play for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury Dec. 26 against Pittsburgh.

“The good thing about this game here is that both teams are relatively healthy and at this time of year that’s a good thing,” Reid said. “That should make for a hell of a game.”

BUFFALO (11-6) at KANSAS CITY (12-5)

WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. PT

OR: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri.

TV/RADIO: Ch. 2,570 a.m.

LINE OF BET: 1½ Heads, according to FanDuel SportsBook

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Buffalo 10-6-2; Kansas City 9-9.

SERIES RECORD: The Bills lead 27-23-1.

LAST MEETING: The Bills won 38-20 on October 10 in Kansas City.

LAST WEEK: The Bills beat the Patriots, 47-17; Chiefs beat Steelers, 42-21

BREACH OF INVOICES: GENERAL (5), RUSH (6), PASS (9), SCORING (3).

DEFENSE OF INVOICES: GENERAL (1), RUSH (13), PASS (1), SCORING (1).

OFFENSE HEAD: GENERAL (3), RUSH (16), PASS (4), SCORE (4).

CHIEF OF DEFENSE: GENERAL (27), RUSH (21), PASS (27), SCORE (8).

REVENUE DIFFERENTIAL: Bills plus-8; Heads plus-4.

BILLS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Devin Singletary has been an afterthought in the first 12 games of the season with just 495 yards and two touchdowns; that included 25 rushing yards in a 38-20 win at Kansas City. But over the past six games, Singletary has combined for 456 yards and seven touchdowns, including one through the air.

PLAYER LEADERSHIP TO WATCH: Tight end Travis Kelce dealt with COVID-19 late in the season, but it didn’t bother him much against the Steelers last week. He had five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown while throwing a TD pass on a trick play.

KEY MATCH: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will face the league’s No. 1 pass defense and overall defense, a week after completing 30 of 39 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns against the Steelers. He became the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, five touchdowns and fewer than 10 misses in a postseason game. Mahomes was 33 of 54 for 272 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a loss to Buffalo in October.

KEY INJURIES: Bills DE Mario Addison has been limited to practice with a shoulder injury. … Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) could play after missing last week’s game against Pittsburgh. RB Darrel Williams (toe) and CB Rashad Fenton (back) missed time in training this week.

SERIES NOTES: The Bills and Chiefs have shared four previous playoff meetings with Kansas City winning the AFC title game last year, 38-24. Buffalo beat the Chiefs, 38-20, when the teams met in October. Franchises can be traced back to the AFL, in which the Chiefs won the only playoff encounter.

STATS AND THINGS: The winner of this game will host Cincinnati for the AFC Championship. … The Chiefs have won five straight playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium. It is the longest current streak in the NFL. …Kansas City is trying to reach the AFC title game for the fourth straight year, joining the Raiders (1973-77), Bills (1990-93) and Patriots (2016-18) as the only teams with at least as much in a line. … The Bills are making their third straight playoff appearance and fourth in five years under Sean McDermott. … Buffalo has won a playoff game in consecutive years for the first time since its four-year Super Bowl run (all losses) from 1990-1993. … Buffalo has lost eight straight away playoff games, including Super Bowl losses at the Rose Bowl and the Georgia Dome. Buffalo’s last away win came at Miami 29-10 in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 17, 1993. … Buffalo scored in each of its first seven practices against New England last week , becoming the first NFL playoff team to complete a game. without punts, field goals or turnovers. … Quarterback Josh Allen’s five touchdowns against New England set a Bills playoff record. Completing 21 of 25 attempts for 308 yards, Allen finished with a passer rating of 157.6, the second-highest rating in an NFL playoff game behind Peyton Manning’s 158.3 in the 41-10 win. Colts over Denver in a wild card game in 2004. … Allen has 303 rushing yards in five playoff games to rank third behind Kenneth Davis (549) and Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas (1,442) in league history. franchise. … The Bills are 9-0 this season when scoring a TD on their first pass and 12-2 when going over 100 rushing yards. … The Bills finished the season passing 12 touchdowns in the NFL. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid could tie Don Shula for the third most playoff wins with his 19th. … Mahomes finished fourth in the NFL with 4,839 passing yards this season. He also had 37 TD assists. … Mahomes needs 50 passing yards to pass Russell Wilson (2,777) for most playoff yards in a player’s first five seasons. … Kelce has caught at least one pass in 126 straight games. He had 1,125 yards this season for his sixth consecutive 1,000 yard season. … Kelce had 118 yards and two touchdown receptions in the AFC title game against Buffalo last year. He needs six catches to pass Reggie Wayne (93) for fourth in the playoffs. He needs two TD catches to tie John Stallworth (12) for third in the playoffs. … WR Tyreek Hill set the Chiefs’ record with 111 catches this season. He had 1,239 receiving yards. Hill rushed for 172 yards against the Bills in last year’s AFC Championship game. … Chiefs DE Frank Clark need a sack to tie Reggie White (12) for the fourth most in the playoffs since sacks became an official stat in 1982. … Chiefs RB Jerick McKinnon had 142 scrimmage yards against Pittsburgh. He became the fifth player in the past nine playoffs with at least 60 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards in a single game. … The Chiefs held the Steelers to 44 yards in the first half of last week’s 42-21 win.