The Buffalo Bills’ Monday late afternoon football excursion sees them battle the defending champions in Orchard Park.
What: Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Where: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
When: Monday, 5 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox/NFL Network/Amazon Prime
Schedule shifts have canceled the battle of unbeatens, but the anticipated matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs will finally get the national spotlight it deserves.
Originally set as last week’s Thursday night football showing, the ongoing health crisis moved things between these division leaders to Monday late afternoon. It will be part of a Monday doubleheader, as the regularly scheduled meeting between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals will kick off shortly after (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Seen by some as an AFC Championship Game preview, Monday’s game features a pair of strong squads coming off tough losses. Buffalo (4-1) was already victimized by the rescheduling process, as they forced into a Tuesday night game in Tennessee last week. Josh Allen threw for 263 yards and two more touchdown passes, but the Bills fell by a 42-16 final to the Titans at Nissan Stadium. Ryan Tannehill was responsible for four Tennesee touchdowns (three passing), while Derrick Henry added two more on the ground. Stefon Diggs paced all receivers with 106 yards passing.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Chiefs (4-1) are coming off their first loss since November of last season, as they were dealt a 40-32 loss at home by the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes threw for 340 yards and two scores in defeat, with 108 yards of that tally going to Travis Kelce.
The Bills currently lead the all-time set by a 26-21-1 tally. Kansas City had won the prior three matchups, but Buffalo broke the streak in their last meeting in November 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have not visited Western New York since 2014, when they topped Buffalo in 17-13 fashion. Buffalo is currently 1-0 in their AFC West slate this season, having defeated Las Vegas in Week 4.
History Happens: 1994
Buffalo and Kansas City have seen each other in the postseason three times, with the most recent get-together being the 1993-94 AFC Championship Game. The Bills took the proceedings by a 30-13 final to advance to the list of their four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. They jumped out to an early 20-6 lead after a pair of Thurman Thomas touchdown runs, but the Chiefs narrowed the gap when Dave Kreig (subbing for an injured Joe Montana) led a 90-yard drive that was capped off by Marcus Allen’s one-yard score. In a hat trick that would make the Sabres proud, Thomas capped things off with one more short score, the finishing touches of a day that saw him earn 208 yards of offense.
They Said It
“He just makes stuff work. Throws back across his body which, a high school kid you’re watching it and the coach is telling you, ‘Do not do that.’ But he does it and they complete passes. When guys are covered 50 yards down the field, they have enough speed on that team. He still throws the football and those guys breakaway, and then come down with the football. (It’s) definitely jaw-dropping to see what he’s able to do…You got to know at any given play where the speed guys are. Mahomes is able to get it to them. If I’m back in the middle. If you don’t see me on the TV and I’m 60 yards back, you know why.”-Bills S Micah Hyde on Patrick Mahomes, per Matt Parrino
“He’s a guy I know that I’ll be facing a lot as our careers go on. It’ll be a great challenge and a great opportunity for me to go against that team and him at quarterback.”-Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes on Josh Allen, per Haley Lewis
Matchup To Watch
Kansas City Speed vs. Buffalo Secondary
The Kansas City area (the Kansas edition, not Missouri) recently welcomed in the NASCAR circuit for playoff action. It might not be anything compared to what we see on the field on Monday night.
Buffalo will not reunite with injured former comrade Sammy Watkins on Monday, but the Chiefs are ready to enjoy the high-speed antics of Mecole Hardman in the meantime. Opponents have seen hints of Hardman’s potential, including an 81-yard performance in Kansas City’s Week 3 win in primetime over Baltimore. There’s already the established group of Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson as well. If any of them get loose, it could be a long late afternoon. In their long-gestating preparation for Kansas City, the Bills have done their due diligence on their renowned tempo. Hyde brought up a play in last week’s tilt with Las Vegas where Hill beat out a well-positioned Erik Harris on a deep-ball that was later called back due to a holding penalty.
“Good ball beats great defense,” he noted, per Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News. “I want to say Harris was in great position but at the end of the day they came down with the ball. He’s a special talent, the receivers are special talents. You’ve got to be the deepest of the deepest.”
“I’m prepared,” Hardman said of his opportunity, according to Fox 4. “I did it last year when Tyreek (Hill) went down and Sammy went down one time, too. I’m prepared for the challenge. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m practicing hard, doing what I can do. Just see what Coach Reid has in store for me, what they want me to do, and just do it the best I can.”
The Bills Will Win If…
They make Mahomes uncomfortable and control the ball.
Cliche as it sounds, making the quarterback uncomfortable is going to be the key to victory in Buffalo. That lesson applies perhaps thirtyfold when the quarterback on the side is Mahomes. There’s a prime opportunity to make him extra uneasy in the pocket on Monday. Kansas City will be missing two starters on the offensive line, which could lead to added pressure from the Buffalo rush.
The Bills’ offense can do their part in neutralizing Mahomes, if only by making sure he stays off the field. Each of Kansas City’s nine losses with Mahomes under center has come when the Chiefs lose the time of possession battle. That trend continued last week when Las Vegas held the ball for 35:18 last Sunday.
The Chiefs Will Win If…
They take advantage of Buffalo on a short week.
The Titans took advantage of their two weeks off last Tuesday in Nashville. Through no fault of their own, the Bills are in a position where they’re playing in a short week. If the powerful Chiefs can take advantage of that, it can get ugly pretty quickly. The key to using speed in victory comes through conditioning, and the Chiefs have the advantage of an eight-day prep period. It’s up to them to use that on Monday.
If there’s one thing that’s for sure about this unpredictable season on both sides, it’s that we should probably see offensive explosions galore. While everyone knows that the Chiefs are a known commodity after their Super Bowl trek, the Bills are in a bit of an awkward spot in their 2020 timeline. This is the first time in their period of contention that they’re facing some true adversity after a one-sided loss in Nashville. They previously dealt with a small amount of it after a narrow loss to lowly Cleveland last season, but they quickly shook it off with four consecutive wins to solidify their playoff status.
The Bills have several chances to get back on the right track. Asking to do that against the defending Super Bowl champions on a short week is simply too much to ask for at this rate in time. A win may be a lot to ask for, but if the Bills can hang tough with an established contender that shows no signs of fading anytime soon, they can enter the future, one that hopefully contains more normalcy from a scheduling standpoint, feeling confident with their heads high.
Chiefs 34, Bills 28
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags