February 28, 2024
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NFL fans received a late Christmas present on Monday when the Buffalo Bills defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, setting up a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Playoffs. 

The two AFC powers will square off in the postseason for the third time in four years in what has essentially become an annual tradition. 

The Kansas City Chiefs offense gets set at the line of scrimmage prior to the snap against the Buffalo Bills defense on December 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

Buffalo and Kansas City have been the two best teams in the conference over the past several years, with the two organizations holding the longest active streaks of 10-win seasons.

The Sunday night matchup will be for the right to play in the AFC Championship Game against either the Baltimore Ravens or the Houston Texans. It will be the first road playoff game in the career of Patrick Mahomes as Kansas City looks to advance to its sixth straight conference championship game.  

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“We’ve played in a lot of big games,” Mahomes said Wednesday, according to ESPN. “I’m excited for the challenge. I grew up watching those [Tom Brady-Peyton Manning] games and remember how many memories I have from that, and hopefully we can play in these great games as well and give memories to the kids that come up behind us.”

Let’s take a look at the last two playoff games between the Bills and Chiefs.

2020 AFC Championship Game

The first playoff meeting between two of the NFL’s young star quarterbacks went Mahomes’ way. 

In Buffalo’s first championship game since 1994, Mahomes lit up the Bills secondary for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill both went over 100 yards receiving as Kansas City advanced to the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills looks on during the first half against the Eagles in Philadelphia on November 26, 2023. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Josh Allen threw for 287 yards and ran for 88 in his fourth postseason game, but Kansas City won, 38-24. 

The Chiefs would go on to lose to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

2021 AFC Divisional Round

The Chiefs and Bills played one of the great NFL playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 23, 2022. So great, in fact, the NFL was forced to change its overtime rules. 

Mahomes and Allen went toe-to-toe for five quarters before the Chiefs prevailed. Kansas City took a 26-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter before things got a little crazy.

Allen threw two touchdown passes in the quarter as Buffalo took a 36-33 lead with just 13 seconds left in the game. Kansas City inexplicably found a way to go 44 yards in 10 seconds, setting up Harrison Butker for a game-tying 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. 

Kansas City won the coin toss and marched down the field for a game-winning touchdown from Mahomes to Kelce. In 2021, a touchdown in overtime ended the game without each team getting a possession. 

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Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen after a game

Patrick Mahomes, left, of the Kansas City Chiefs and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills meet after their game in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 10, 2023. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

“It worked out well for us this time,” Mahomes said after the game. “When you have two teams going back and forth, it stinks when you don’t get to see the other guy go. But all you can do is play the rules the way the rules are explained, and that’s what we did.”

The Chiefs would go on to lose to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

The public outcry was overwhelming, with most upset that the game was decided by a flip of a coin. 

In March 2022, NFL owners approved new overtime rules to allow both teams to have possession of the ball. The only way the game ends without both teams getting the ball is through a safety by the receiving team on the opening possession of overtime. 

NFL fans have the Bills and Chiefs to thank for extended overtime football in the playoffs. 

2023 AFC Divisional Round

The next chapter of the rivalry will have a different look. 

For the first time, Mahomes will go on the road in the playoffs as the Chiefs head to Orchard Park with an AFC Championship Game berth on the line. 

The Bills enter the game red-hot, winners of six straight games after defeating the Steelers in the wild-card round. Allen was spectacular against the Steelers, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for 74 yards and a score. 

Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes after a game

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills talks with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs after their game at Arrowhead Stadium on October 10, 2021, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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Despite their postseason failures against Kansas City, Buffalo has had the Chiefs’ number during the regular season, winning the last three matchups, including a Week 14 win at Arrowhead. 

“The Bills are a great challenge,” Mahomes said, per ESPN. “I think everybody understands that they’ve gotten my number a lot of times. We’ve been lucky enough to get them in the playoffs, but they beat us earlier this year. So, we understand that we’re going to have to play our best football to win the game, especially at their place, but it’s not about ending someone’s season for us.”

“It’s about just advancing, trying to find a way to survive and advance and get to the next round, and whatever that takes this weekend, we’re going to try to do and try to go out there and win a football game.”

Kansas City enters the matchup riding a three-game winning streak after a season filled with unusual struggles. 

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Patrick Mahomes looks on

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on from the sideline before the game against the Buffalo Bills at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on December 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

After starting the season 6-1, the Chiefs lost five of their eight games as the offense struggled. Mahomes and Kansas City got back on track in the final two weeks of the regular season before thoroughly beating the Miami Dolphins last week. 

“They’ve been at the top of the mountain, they know what it takes to get there,” Allen said after Wednesday’s walk-through practice, per the Bills’ website. “We’ve yet to do that. As a competitor, as a player, to be in a situation like this is something that you dream about.”

Buffalo and Kansas City kick off Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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