One could say Sunday’s massive meeting between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs is a big deal because it’s a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game.
But that ain’t it.
To quote every football coach who has ever walked the planet, “Last year was last year. And this year is this year.”
Better yet, quoth Josh Allen: “Everybody wants to make a big deal about the AFC Championship rematch, and I get that’s what it is. But it’s a new year and this team’s different than last year, and their team’s different than last year.
“But they’re the gold standard, what you would want to be as an AFC team, being to the AFC Championship the last three years and competing for the Super Bowl is what they’ve been doing. So that’s what every team wants to be and until somebody knocks them off in the playoffs, that won’t change.”
Ding, ding, ding! The playoffs.
That’s what this game is really about.
This OutKick game of the week is huge because it will help determine the seeding in the coming AFC playoffs. And we’re not considering just any seeding, by the way, but possibly the top seeding.
Allow the nerds, rather, analysts at Football Outsiders to paint the picture:
So there you have the stakes. But what about the matchup?
Sunday night’s game in Kansas City is a referendum on, well, everything.
We’ll understand if the Bills’ defense, which has allowed a league-low 44 points this season, is truly elite …
…Or perhaps they’ve just feasted on the fact the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins are pretty bad on offense and so their shutout of those two teams has skewed the statistics.
We’ll find out if the Chiefs, who lost consecutive games to Baltimore and the Los Angeles Chargers, have emerged from their funk or did last week’s victory over Philadelphia merely hide some warts.
And we’ll find out how these two likely playoff teams match up one season after that 38-24 victory by the Chiefs in the 2020-21 title game — a comparison that cannot be made without comparing the quarterbacks.
That means K.C. versus Buffalo is a good deal about Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes vying for the crown as the AFC’s best quarterback.
Mahomes has worn that crown for years.
And this year the statistics would argue it’s not really a good comparison for Allen.
Mahomes completion percentage is 72.3 while Allen’s is 63.1
Mahomes averages 8.6 yards per attempt while Allen’s is 6.7.
Mahomes has 14 touchdowns passes, which leads the NFL, while Allen has nine.
And Mahomes has a 119.5 QB rating compared to 96.4 for Allen.
This matchup is a statistical blowout. Except, of course, the game will not be decided by the statistics of the NFL season’s first month. And there might be some extenuating circumstances that are skewing Allen’s stats.
“So far this season, the Bills have been winning by such a big margin, it’s like I get a big lead, now I run the ball,” former Bills and Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy said on First Things First on FOX Sports. “The whole game plan you had for that week goes out the window because now you’re up by such a big lead, you don’t play the same ball. So you want to look at the game? I’m all about winning.
“Winning the game is big. Controlling the game is big. If you have a [tough] situation, I’d love to have Josh Allen. Now, I will say Patrick Mahomes, he’s still the crown. He’s still top of the hill. But when you look down at it, man, Josh Allen is so close. And you’ll see as we get farther in the season, the numbers will progress, the wins will progress, and when we look at the AFC Championship, it’ll be the Chiefs and the Bills…”
It should be noted that Mahomes is aware he’s got other quarterbacks in the conference trying to take his so-called crown. And he understands Allen is one of those.
“I think what you see with Josh as he gets better every single years, is he’s not satisfied where he’s at,” Mahomes said. “He works through his throwing motion, he works on his feet, he does different types of stuff to give himself an edge. And I think that’s what the best quarterbacks do.
“It’s something I know I do is look back every offseason, I find one thing I can get better at and try to continue to get better and better. You’ve seen that with Josh.
“He’s definitely gotten better and better each year and I’m sure we’ll have lots of battles as both our careers go on.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero