Here is how News sports writers see Sunday’s game between the Bills and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Jay Skurski: Let’s talk about what this game is and isn’t. It is a huge game for the Bills – one that could go a long way toward determining the all-important No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. It is a chance to see whether the Bills’ rebuilt defense can stand up to the biggest test – quarterback Patrick Mahomes – that the league has to offer.
It is not, however, any sort of revenge for “13 seconds” – even with a victory. The possibility for that doesn’t come until the playoffs. We know both of these teams are great. Quite frankly, we can look ahead to the postseason and the likelihood that they will meet again. A regular-season win would be great for the Bills, and perhaps go a long way toward having a postseason rematch occur in Orchard Park, but it won’t erase the stain of “13 seconds.”
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So, can the Bills get it done? The Chiefs have been a tough team lately to get a read on. They looked like world beaters against the Buccaneers, but appeared beatable last week against Las Vegas. Their secondary is giving up 255.4 passing yards per game, so there are some vulnerabilities there. Don’t expect either team to try and run much – both teams have defenses that rank in the top three in the NFL against the rush. The Chiefs (31.8 points per game) and Bills (30.4 ppg) have the top two scoring offenses in the league, so plenty of fireworks between Mahomes and Josh Allen can be expected. The one big statistical difference in this game is scoring defense – the Bills are tied for the league lead, allowing 12.2 points per game, while Kansas City is allowing 25.0 points per game, tied for 23rd in the NFL. This is the game for which the Bills acquired Von Miller. In what should be another classic, the Bills win a close one. Bills, 31-27.
Katherine Fitzgerald: For fans of the sport with no deep-rooted interest, this should be a fun football game, packed with dazzling plays. These are two star-studded rosters, and the way each team was built and is coached is fascinating to watch when they go up against each other. Of course, for fans of the teams, it will probably be an ulcer-inducing afternoon, with plenty of lead changes up until the very end.
This game won’t define either team, and it is only Week 6. But a win can still affirm that Buffalo’s offseason moves have them on a solid path, and I think the Bills come out on top Sunday. The Bills approached the offseason knowing that to achieve their ultimate goals, they’d have to win the AFC, and Kansas City has stood in their way. Even if Von Miller doesn’t explode from a statistical standpoint, he also was added to free up his teammates, and this is a game where that ripple effect should be on display. The Bills’ secondary has held up well while navigating a number of injuries, but this is the biggest challenge yet. Luckily, the Bills’ offense can keep pace. I expect another huge game out of Josh Allen as the Bills head into the bye week atop the AFC. Bills, 34-31.
Mark Gaughan: I don’t think the Chiefs are as good as they were last year. The Kansas City secondary might get rookie Trent McDuffie back for this game, but they might be without Rashaad Fenton, who has a sore hamstring. Fenton is vulnerable to the Bills regardless. I like McDuffie but he has played only one half of NFL football so far this year. I think the Chiefs on paper have a pretty good offensive line. Their middle three is good, with Joe Thuney, young Creed Humphrey and big guard Trey Smith. Left tackle Orlando Brown has the No. 5 cap hit among all NFL tackles this year but he hasn’t played like it so far. He and right tackle Andrew Wylie looked vulnerable Monday night vs. the Raiders.
No doubt one concern for the Bills is the duo of Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Those two have the talent to foul up multiple Bills possessions. If the Chiefs try to stop the run with light boxes – six men – Jones and Clark might just be dominant enough to prevent the Bills from making Kansas City pay for that tactic. The Chiefs’ biggest stars – Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Jones – are good enough to beat any team if they all play their “A” games. But I think the Bills are the better team – 1 to 22. Bills 34, Chiefs 33.
It’s already looking like these two teams are on a collision course in the playoffs for the third season in a row. This game is only Round I. There is a good chance Round II is coming in January, writes Mark Gaughan.
Ryan O’Halloran: For the first time in 42 regular season/playoff home starts, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is an underdog, a nod to the Bills’ offensive firepower and fourth-ranked pass defense.
Mahomes will get his. So will Bills quarterback Josh Allen, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (the first player in NFL history to have a four-touchdown catch game and fewer than 26 yards receiving) and Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
So who will emerge for the Bills? Let’s point to three players: Receiver Gabe Davis and tight end Dawson Knox, who must take advantage if the Chiefs commit additional coverage resources to Diggs, and pass rusher Greg Rousseau, who must feast on 1-on-1 match-ups if Kansas City (as it should) uses a back or extra tight end to chip/double-team Von Miller.
Davis had touchdown catches of 98 and 62 yards last week against Pittsburgh, but Knox sat out the game to nurse multiple injuries, ostensibly to get ready for a four-quarter fist-fight against the Chiefs. Rousseau has four sacks in five games, matching last year’s production in 17 games and will be tasked when chasing down Mahomes playing opposite Miller.
This is The Game of the NFL’s regular season and the Bills will roll into their bye with a 5-1 record. Bills, 34-30.