Josh Allen watched overtime from the sideline. Gabe Davis hauled in two of his NFL playoff-record four touchdown catches within the two-minute warning and also didn’t take the field beyond the fourth quarter. A coin flip that sparked controversy as to whether the league needed to change postseason overtime rules. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce found respective paths into the end zone to launch the Chiefs to their fourth straight conference championship game.
All those flashbacks of last January’s classic AFC Divisional showdown between Buffalo and Kansas City will be front of mind when the teams match wits once again on Sunday from the same Missouri turf where Harrison Butker made the 48-yard field goal to send the winter classic to overtime. Both teams are 4-1 and while this mid-October matchup appears to be a 60-minute — maybe more — preview of what could come after the calendar flips to 2023, proving the moves each franchise made to be superior since its last clash will be an integral part of gridiron chess.
Hill is now a Dolphin. So is Melvin Ingram. A balanced approach at receiver with JuJu Smith-Schuster coming to town has taken place with Patrick Mahomes’ production not slowing. When you supplement the receiving corps with a guy the caliber of Travis Kelce, it’s easy to spread the ball around to the rest. Tyrann Mathieu is gone too, with Nick Bolton becoming one of the best sophomore defenders in the NFL, especially with Willie Gay suspended.
For the Bills, not tweaking their roster too much was the way to better the squad. What moves Buffalo did make had to matter. And it’s obvious the higher-ups in Western New York know the team in place was good enough to win a Super Bowl. The only offseason addition for the Bills to sign longer than a two-year contract was Von Miller. There were two defensive tackles that signed two-year deals. Every other off-season contract handed out was a one-year deal. It’s truly win-now mode in Buffalo after being deprived last year. That hangover of being so close to glory and getting the door slammed with everything but a toe inside the frame will define the Bills until they can lift the Lombardi Trophy.
Part of the DNA of every NFL player is to quickly forget past performances, good or bad. There has literally been one undefeated Super Bowl champion in history. A 13-4 record at the end of this season would be called dominant, even though you lost nearly one in four times this fall. Throw that philosophy out the window for Sunday’s clash. Last year’s divisional playoff isn’t a quick forget. Who knows how one different result on the NFL kaleidoscope impacts everything? If the Bengals had to go through Buffalo and not KC to get to the Super Bowl, do they make it? I’d say no, yet I also thought the Chiefs had a third-straight Super Bowl appearance in the bag once they got past Josh Allen. And that clearly didn’t happen.
After a classic showing, sequels either top the original or a total flop. We could see Aliens or The Dark Knight. It could also be Die Hard 2 or Grease 2 (114 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Thanks Michelle Pfeiffer.) [Editor’s note: The Godfather: Part II is on par, if not better, than The Godfather.] Sunday’s game will either be a defensive showdown where Allen and Mahomes both suck, or everyone will do their part to put on a phenomenal display around the pigskin. Having the result at one end of the spectrum or the other looks promising because the rematch is on the same grounds. Should Sunday’s game be in Buffalo, it wouldn’t be a true sequel.
I think Buffalo wanting revenge wins out here and Allen’s litany of great receivers make the difference against a Kansas City secondary that hasn’t proven to be good enough to stop them. Davis, Stefon Diggs, and if they’re healthy Isaiah McKenzie and Dawson Knox will be fabulous. The Mahomes one-man show won’t dazzle enough, even if he throws for four touchdowns, to stop it, as he did in January.