Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Columns and Features / Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs game has enormous ramifications

Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs game has enormous ramifications

His Buffalo Bills teammates and coaches couldn’t get off the field fast enough. And that was understandable because only a masochist would want to hang around and watch a team that had just ended his season celebrate a championship he had hoped to win.

But Stefon Diggs seemed in no hurry to make the trek from the sidelines to the showers and the painful offseason that awaited. The Bills All-Pro wide receiver felt compelled to stick around on the field at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. He felt compelled to take it all in.

Yes, it was agonizing watching the confetti flutter down as the Kansas City Chiefs celebrated the 14-point victory that earned them a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. But Diggs wanted to make sure that scene from last January was seared in his memory banks. He wanted to be able to call upon it whenever he needed motivation to run an extra sprint, lift an extra weight or catch an extra pass in practice.

And, so, here we are, eight months later, and thanks to those crafty NFL schedule-makers, Diggs and his teammates are going to Kansas City again, with vindication and validation on their minds. The Bills hope to supplant the Chiefs as the AFC standard-bearers. Missouri is known as the “Show Me” state. Well, the Bills need to show us, and, more importantly, themselves they’ve taken that next step.

Since their toe-stubbing loss in the season opener at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo has been on a three-game tear unlike any other in the franchise’s 61-year history, pitching two shut-outs and outscoring its opponents by a ridiculous 118-21 margin. So, what, if those lopsided wins came against Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke and Davis Mills — three backup quarterbacks who would be hard-pressed to make Buffalo’s practice squad. The Bills need not apologize for their schedule. With the exception of the Steelers game, when Josh Allen appeared to be overly excited, they’ve taken care of business the way champions do. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat. And beat them soundly.

Which brings us to Sunday night’s nationally televised marquee rematch. Many eyes will be on Josh, who reverted to some bad habits in the AFC Championship Game. Though he had 267 passing yards and 88 more on the ground that night, he misfired on 20 passes (including an interception) and was sacked four times for minus-53 yards. Despite the fourth-year quarterback’s protestations this is just another game on the schedule, it’s not. This is a huge litmus test for him, and the Bills.

Though three quarters of the NFL season remains, much is at stake for both teams. At 2-2, the Chiefs are off to a disappointing start. But to keep things in perspective, their opening schedule has been brutal. Facing Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert — three potential Hall of Famers — is vastly more challenging than facing the law-firm-sounding trio of Heinicke, Brissett and Mills. But you have to play the schedule you’re dealt, and the Chiefs have not played theirs well. Their defense ranks near the bottom of the league in several crucial statistical categories, including points allowed and red zone efficiency. So, Allen and the potent Buffalo offense should be able to score often.

Of course, one thing the Chiefs have going for them — and it’s a huge thing — is Patrick Mahomes. Despite a few costly interceptions, he’s off to another MVP start with 14 touchdown passes, including five in last week’s victory in Philadelphia that snapped a two-game losing streak. As his underhand touchdown toss against the Eagles underscored, Mahomes remains a master of improv. He can beat you even when it appears you have everything defensed perfectly. In the regular-season and playoff games between the Bills and Chiefs last season, Mahomes combined for 550 passing yards and five touchdowns. He didn’t throw any interceptions and was sacked just once.

In their post-season wrap-up, both general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott stressed the need for an improved pass rush if the Bills are to dethrone the Chiefs. For the third consecutive year, Buffalo used high draft picks on pass rushers, and it appears those investments are beginning to pay dividends. The Bills have been getting good pressure on opposing QBs, with 12 sacks in four games, and that has contributed to a league-leading 11 takeaways. They’ve also broken up an NFL-best 26 passes, and are only the third team in history with two shutouts in their first four games. Unfortunately, linebacker Matt Milano, who was playing like an All-Pro, had to leave last week’s game with a hamstring injury. His status for Sunday is iffy, and Buffalo also could be without Jordan Poyer and Taron Johnson in the secondary.

Allen’s performance on the big stage will be pivotal. In the two losses to the Chiefs last season, he was off target more than usual and made some bad decisions. He struggled a bit in his first two games this season, but has since completed 72 percent of his throws and has six TD passes and just one pick. He needs to stay calm and not try to do too much. Of course, that’s easier said than done in a game this big.

This also will be a barometer game for McDermott, who will be facing his mentor, Andy Reid. The teacher has gotten the better of the student so far, with two wins in three meetings. A victory by the Bills would give them a two-game advantage over the Chiefs in the all-important race for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In reality, with a 4-1 record to the Chiefs 2-3 record, they would enjoy a three-game advantage when you factor in the head-to-head tiebreaker. Home field would be an enormous postseason advantage for the Bills, considering they are 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road in the playoffs under McDermott.

If the road to the Super Bowl winds through Buffalo — like it did during the early 1990s — Diggs might get the opportunity to linger on the field again after an AFC Championship Game. Only this time, he would be able to soak in the joy of victory at Highmark Stadium rather than the agony of defeat in Arrowhead.

Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.

x

Check Also

Tricks to sustaining the family trade: Succession planning scenarios to expect (access required)

We all know how a business can feel like our child. You spend many years — even decades — nurturing ...

Succession plans critical for survival of family-owned businesses (access required)

While family-owned businesses are commonplace in the United States, those that are multigenerational remain rare gems. According to Cornell University’s ...

What’s so great about the 2022 Great Places to Work? (access required)

It’s my favorite time of year: Great Place to Work just announced the 25th Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work ...

Loyalty programs – what you should know about compliance with the CPPA (access required)

From the straightforward “buy 9 smoothies, get 1 free,” to sophisticated frequent flyer programs, loyalty programs are a staple in ...

Are cover letters really necessary? Hiring professionals have differing opinions (access required)

“I’m a hiring manager at a local company looking to fill several positions. I’ve noticed that about two-thirds of our ...

Investment acumen or inside information? (access required)

If you had known, in early 2020, that you might be working from home during a multi-year, global pandemic, would ...

Opining on Dick Vitale’s courage, more Bills nicknames, stadium names

By the time he finished delivering a motivational speech that would have made Knute Rockne proud, Dick Vitale looked like ...

The importance of female mentorship, leadership, and innovation in banking (access required)

In my 10 years at Tompkins and 35 cumulative years in the banking field, I’ve witnessed the industry undergo several ...

How not to set policy to reduce the price of gasoline (access required)

High gas prices in the U.S. cause a lot of pain for Americans every time they take their vehicles to ...

Highland Hospital Gala (access required)

This year’s casino-themed Highland Hospital Gala raised its second highest amount ever, with more than $650,000 gross net income thanks ...

Inflation: How did we get here and what can be done about it? (access required)

If you’re in your 50s - o.k. early 50s - you probably remember a time when a gallon of gas ...

Reflections on pediatrics, the pandemic, and the Golden Circle (access required)

Imagine this: Your business has been open for only five months and is doing really well. Revenue is higher than ...

Will 2022 be the year of the vacation home? (access required)

With some COVID-19 restrictions relaxing and others already lifted, the smell of tourism is in the air. Demand for leisure ...

Transition services valuable for aging population (access required)

What do you need to stay safe in your family home, even if your home is getting to be too ...

Elder transition planning: Family mediation for older adults & their loved ones (access required)

The journey of aging is rarely a smooth one. As older adults and their families face emotional, financial and health ...

Senior living communities consider how to be more diverse, inclusive, accessible (access required)

The nation’s senior population is the largest and most diverse in history, according to the most recent census data from ...

Why is inflation so scary for my retirement plan? (access required)

Over the past decade, investors experienced a best-case scenario of relatively low inflation and strong investment returns from both stocks ...

A thoroughbred racehorse whose impact was not lost on us

It seemed like a good deal at the time – a rattletrap Ford van with more than 100,000 miles on ...

Ensuring your financial plan can withstand negative conditions  (access required)

Financial plans differ based on individuals’ incomes, future goals, age and tolerance for risk, but often unconsidered in those plans ...

Boomerang employees: tips on how to welcome team members home (access required)

Every manager at every level has experienced it — that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when one ...

Spring cleaning: Considering program sustainability (access required)

There has never been a better time to consider the sustainability of your program activities and take action to address ...

Financial advisors can guide through tough times (access required)

With the country facing rising inflation and interest rates, as well as the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the war in ...

Are you discriminating against employees with caregiving responsibilities? (access required)

As the world enters year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued a warning ...

Rochester accelerates its pace to become top tech hub in America (access required)

Rochester is on its way to becoming a national hub for technology innovation. Experts predict that it has the highest ...

A simple game for investors: How would you play? (access required)

Some years ago, financial author and advisor, Bill Schultheis, devised a simple game to illustrate the difficulty faced by investors ...

You need to improve your technology, but where do you start? (access required)

Technology is advancing at warp speed and certainly some innovations could benefit you and your company, but it’s easy to ...

Innovation advancements on display as Rochester continues to grow its technology ecosystem (access required)

From LIDROTEC, a company with patent-pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry to Stratio, which provides artificial intelligence ...

Milo the Dog has had a golden impact on Red Wings baseball, community

They had trained together five days a week for nearly six months in the backyard solitude of Josh Snyder’s rural ...

M&A middle-market activity: What businesses need to know (access required)

 Understanding the ins and outs, trends and activities going on in M&A markets can help businesses make informed decisions including ...

5 things to consider before deciding to work for yourself (access required)

When people ask me what I do, now that I’m out of television, I simply say, “I have my own ...

M&A lawyers keep busy despite pandemic barriers (access required)

2021 was a record-breaking year globally and nationally for mergers (combining two separate businesses into one new legal entity) and ...

Ending violent crime requires building trust between police, community (access required)

Rochester has recently been the recipient of many state, federal and private investments that create a true path for transformational ...

Former UR assistant Jay Wright continues working his hoops magic

Mike Neer likes to joke that he doesn’t get enough credit for helping Jay Wright become the best-dressed coach in ...

Four ways to prepare your business for the future of digital payments (access required)

Digital transformation continues to sweep the country — especially as more companies and their customers embrace digital payment technologies.Here are ...

Managing Our Manufacturing Plants in 2022 (access required)

There have been dramatic shifts in both the needs and the realities of manufacturing the United States over the past ...

“Rounding Errors” Can Add Up Quickly (access required)

It’s time to talk about time. For many employees, their lunch break is a time when they can step away ...

Just In Time production method becoming obsolete with supply chain issues (access required)

Just In Time (JIT) is a production method pioneered in the 1930s by Toyota Motor Corporation as a means to ...

Rochester firms embrace 3D printing for multiple purposes (access required)

Firms are using 3D printing to create unique tools, parts and other objects right here in Rochester, allowing for new ...

From mentee to mentor: the benefits mentorship provides for women in business (access required)

March marks Women’s History Month. It is a time to honor the strong, brave women who have broken down barriers, ...

Working across the ages: multigenerational teams offer multiple benefits (access required)

Quick: How long is the average career? If you guessed 40 years, you would’ve been right a few years ago. ...

Energy, dedication drive entrepreneurs at any age (access required)

Younger women who grew up with technology and worked in the gig economy may be more comfortable with the pace ...

Opining on Brandon Beane, SU hoops, a poor investment, baseball’s return

If you pressed me to rank the most indispensable Buffalo Bills of this glorious era, I’d go with quarterback Josh ...

Topics that don’t focus on COVID-19 for nonprofit leaders (access required)

For obvious reasons, COVID-19-19 and the many elements of disruption it has caused continue to dominate conversation at organizations of ...

March worldwide water, climate events are close to home (access required)

March marks two worldwide awareness events for the environment: World Water Day and Earth Hour. In Rochester, New York, these ...

Revisiting Art Schlichter’s sad tale of gambling addiction

Monday’s seismic news that Atlanta Falcons star receiver Calvin Ridley had been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on ...

Mentoring is an art passed from one generation to the next (access required)

Ahhh, what to say about the important art of mentoring? It is certainly an art and, in preparation for this ...

Protect intellectual property from the start (access required)

When it comes to intellectual property (IP), the old English idiom “penny wise and pound foolish” never goes out of ...

A loving team helped Chris Lillis ascend to Winter Olympic gold

Bernie Lillis points with pride to a framed photograph on the mantelpiece above the fireplace of his Fairport home. There ...

Three takeaways from Super Bowl ads to apply to marketing (access required)

Super Bowl ads deliver on a few recurring themes every year, and this year was no different. Whether it’s nostalgia ...

I Bonds: A rare bright spot for the income investor (access required)

Investors have a natural affinity for income-producing investments. A steady stream of investment income is comforting even if it is ...

What AG report on ‘credential stuffing’ hacks mean for your business (access required)

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report summarizing the findings of a broad investigation into so-called ...

Data privacy and security concerns with rise of online betting, gaming (access required)

As of January 8, 2022, New York State joined the ranks of more than a dozen states that have legalized ...

Potential headwinds are coming — what this means for your business (access required)

An abundance of liquidity and market exuberance in the world’s recovery from COVID-19 have made this a promising time for ...

Rochester’s Roland Williams hoping his Rams do it again

Eric Weddle is one of those feel-good stories that Rochester tight-end-turned-broadcaster Roland Williams has followed closely in recent weeks. Late ...

2022 Women of Excellence

[iframe src='https://www.pageturnpro.com/NY-Daily-Record/104589-RBJ-Women-of-Excellence-2022/sdefault.html#page/1' width='1260' height='700' frameborder='0' scrolling='no' allowfullscreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' oallowfullscreen='true' msallowfullscreen='true']

Excell Partners plant seeds for cash-strapped startups to grow (access required)

Excell Partners’ 2021 technology ventures’ report shows the ever-growing impact the venture capital firm is having on the Finger Lakes ...

West Herr buys Canandaigua Honda dealership (access required)

West Herr Automotive Group has added a ninth deal in the greater Rochester area with the purchase of Victory Honda ...