The NFL made a mistake not making the Bills vs. Chiefs game this week a primetime game on Sunday or Monday Night. Luckily for fans outside of those markets, it is the only game on CBS in the afternoon window.
That means Panthers, Rams, Cardinals, and Seahawks fans can all forgo watching their underwhelming teams play lousy football. Instead, they get to watch a rematch of what was arguably the best game since Y2K.
Last Year’s Postseason Meeting Was a Classic
The Divisional Round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs was a moment where you’ll probably remember where you were and what you were doing for a long, long time. Or maybe I’m just a psycho who watches too much football and gets too excited about a game with an oblong ball.
But I remember being in a tiny Airbnb in downtown Lagos, Portugal, watching the game on my newly purchased laptop, which I bought when I landed in Lisbon because mine, for lack of a better term, exploded before getting on the cross-ocean excursion.
It was my first experience staying awake until 5 a.m. watching football, which I’ve quickly grown accustomed to as I’ve moved to Portugal full-time. And maybe that 42-36 game is why I have such fond memories of that trip and why we decided Lagos was the place for us in our eventual move.
It’s the best football game I’ve ever seen, and it’s not particularly close.
The Bills vs. Chiefs Rematch is Another “Battle of the Bests”
When they met in the Divisional Round, the Bills’ defense was coming off a season in which they ranked first in defensive EPA, DVOA, yards per drive, and points per drive. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ offense was first in success rate, yards per drive, points per drive, and drive success rate.
Well, that playoff game was proof that you can have the best defense in the world, and if your opponent has the best offense with an alien at quarterback who can’t miss that day, offense wins in the modern game. Patrick Mahomes’ QBR could be found on your FM dial that day (96.9). And although Josh Allen’s was lower, I wouldn’t argue if you felt he outplayed Mahomes in that game.
So far this season, the Bills rank second in defensive EPA and DVOA. The Chiefs’ offense ranks first in EPA and third in DVOA. And like a season ago when the Bills’ offense ranked fourth in EPA, they rank second this season so far through five weeks, just behind the Chiefs.
Buffalo has been as dominant as we thought they could be, and it’s why they’re three-point favorites in Kansas City as of Wednesday, making it the first time in Mahomes career that he will be a home underdog.
The Battle for Quarterback Supremacy
Not even Tom Brady achieved what Patrick Mahomes has in his first four years as an NFL starter. Brady won three Super Bowls in four years, but Mahomes reached the AFC Championship games in each of his four seasons as a starter. He’s done so while boat-racing the rest of the league in EPA over that time and tying Drew Brees’s EPA+CPOE composite.
Mahomes is the best QB in the NFL, and he’s done it in style. In fact, he’s so good that he’s become somewhat underrated at times in the media narrative. He’s so consistently good that his greatness has become overlooked.
But if Mahomes is the best, Allen is creeping up on him. Allen’s arm is even more live than Mahomes. But when he once resembled a closing pitcher who hit triple digits on the gun but struggled to consistently find the plate, he has learned to be a starting pitcher, and his stuff is filthy.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback resembles a sixth grader who hit puberty before the rest of his classmates. He’s powerful enough to bully linebackers and athletic enough to get free from rushers and make plays with his legs both within the structure of the offense and as a scrambler.
Thus far in 2022, Allen holds the edge in the world of EPA, while Mahomes leads the DVOA game. Both QBs have posted a 78.5 QBR through five games. Traditional statistics are about as close. Allen has completed 66.8% of his passes to Mahomes’s 66.7%. Mahomes has 15 TDs to Allen’s 14. Allen’s 7 INTs dwarf Mahomes’s 2, which is why Mahomes has a passer rating of 110.5 compared to Allen’s 107.4.
Allen leads the MVP odds at +200. Mahomes is currently second at +500. While this game won’t decide the victor, it could go a long way in cultivating the narrative surrounding who should win, depending on each player’s performance.
Other Elite Matchups To Watch
Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL. His hilarious stat line from a week ago was astounding, accumulating four touchdowns on seven catches while only amassing 25 yards. He may have more yards on Sunday against the Bills, but it won’t be due to a lack of talent on the opposition.
Matt Milano is one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. It’s a story that is becoming more commonplace in the league. He’s a college safety-turned-NFL linebacker who bulked up and learned how to be a three-down guy sooner than expected.
Tremaine Edmunds may not be the coverage wizard Milano is, he continues to progress as a player and has the size and athleticism to match up with any tight end in the league. A hamstring injury sidelined Edmunds a week ago, but he was back at practice on Wednesday during the ramp-up for Kansas City.
Sunday’s game may very well come down to how well Kansas City can protect against Buffalo’s outrageous pass rush unit. San Francisco and Dallas might have better units, but it would be splitting hairs because Dallas and San Francisco blitz more often as well. Von Miller, Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham, and Shaq Lawson are arguably the deepest EDGE group in the last decade.
And if there is a weakness to the Chiefs’ offense, it is at offensive tackle. Orlando Brown is a good football player, but he is not impervious to allowing pressure. The tackles are also at a disadvantage because their quarterback sometimes floats backward in the pocket, which allows edge rushers to take more obtuse angles to the corner and screw up the tackle’s set points in the kick slide.
No game for the rest of the NFL season will have the juice of Buffalo vs. Kansas City. There will be divisional games and do-or-die games late in the season during the playoff push between quality teams that will matter, but this is the marquee matchup of the season.
And it’s a darned shame it shares a time slot with two other games.