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Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Prediction: AFC's Best Ready for Another Must-See Matchup

Playoff implications, MVP race among the storylines involved for the latest chapter of this budding rivalry.

Perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the 2022 NFL regular season will arrive on Sunday when the Chiefs host the Bills in an AFC title game rematch and potential preview.

These teams have met four times in the last three years, including a pair of playoff games that Kansas City won. Although just one matchup was determined by one score — last season's controversial overtime thriller — each game has been thrilling.

Related: NFL Predictions for Every Game in Week 6

And it's hard not to when two MVP favorites are going head-to-head. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are playing at the top of their games, each coming off four-touchdown performances and sporting a 78.5 QBR.

The Bills and Chiefs have had very similar seasons so far, even outside of their star quarterbacks' performances. Two big wins against playoff contenders to open the season preceded disappointing, narrow Week 3 losses. And now they each enter this matchup on two-game winning streaks, thanks to 17-point comebacks.

This game, the third straight in this series played at Arrowhead Stadium, will be a measuring stick for these 4-1 teams but also effectively provide the winner a two-game cushion in the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed. The season is still young, but these playoff tiebreakers are crucial.

Buffalo (4-1) at Kansas City (4-1)

Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Bills -3
Tickets: As low as $334 on SITickets.com*

Three Things to Watch

1. How will the Bills defend Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce?
Mahomes is never easy to defend, and the league is constantly trying to find new ways to slow him. Needless to say, with Mahomes having a 15:2 TD-to-INT ratio this season, no one has found a skeleton key.

In 2021, the M.O. was to run two high safeties and take away his deep threats. Once he figured that out, more teams have tried a single high safety and man defense this season — but Mahomes ate that up against the Raiders on Monday night. Against Cover 1 Man, Mahomes had a 94.2 QBR, compared to a 24.9 QBR against zone.

But could employing a man-to-man scheme be the answer against Mahomes?

Although he hasn't missed a beat yet with Tyreek Hill gone, his remaining receivers have gotten almost no separation. Travis Kelce (2.4 yds.), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2.9), and Juju Smith-Schuster (2.9) all are below-average in the department, and Mecole Hardman (3.1) is sitting around league average.

With few players getting much separation, man defense should be the best strategy. Throwing into tight windows leaves quarterbacks with a smaller margin for error, even though Mahomes is a cheat code with superhuman accuracy.

Of course, Kelce has not gotten much separation, but his size and speed provide their own challenge, one the Bills have struggled with. In his last four games against Buffalo, Kelce has totaled 32 receptions for 336 yards and six touchdowns. The Bills will need to find a way to stop the Chiefs' star tight end, even with several key defenders on the back end banged up (Tremaine Edmunds, hamstring; Jordan Poyer, rib) or out (Tre'Davious White, knee; Micah Hyde, neck).

2. Can the Chiefs avoid falling behind early?
Few teams have the ability to storm back like the Chiefs. They came back from down double digits three times in the 2019 playoffs en route to a Super Bowl victory and have done so in two of their four wins already this season. But mounting a comeback against the Raiders and Chargers is a different animal than catching up to the Bills.

The Buffalo-Kansas City matchup in last season's playoffs is so notorious because both teams scored on 13 of 20 drives, including each of the last six. And Buffalo's offense has been even more efficient this season.

The Chiefs have only come back against the Bills down more than a touchdown once in their last four matchups, and that was a nine-point first-quarter lead. Furthermore, the Bills have only blown two double-digit leads in the last two-plus seasons — against the Steelers (10 points) in September 2021 and at the Cardinals (14) in November 2020.

Making it even more of a challenge is that the Bills' defense has taken a leap this season and ranks first in scoring defense (12.2 ppg) and second in total defense (260.4 ypg). Scoring multiple touchdowns in quick succession will be harder than ever — and that's assuming the Chiefs' defense can stop Allen.

3. Can both quarterbacks remain mistake-free?
These teams were able to score seemingly at will in their last matchup in large part because both quarterbacks were essentially perfect. Allen had a 92.1 QBR, while Mahomes was at 96.9, and neither threw an interception. It was the first playoff game in at least a decade with both quarterbacks going over 90, on a scale from 0 to 100.

And both quarterbacks haven't dropped off much since then. Most impressively, they've really cut down on their interceptions. After owning a 2 percent interception rate last season, Mahomes is down to 1.1, where he resided in 2020 and '21. Allen, meanwhile, has shaved a few points off from 2.3 to 2.0 percent and only has two picks in his last four games.

Mahomes may be more accurate than Allen, but the Bills have quite the ball-hawking secondary, which has a league-high eight picks. Meanwhile, the Chiefs only have one pick all season, although first-round corner Trent McDuffie (hamstring) returned to practice on Wednesday and could be activated from IR.

Keep this in mind: Over the last three matchups between the Bills and Chiefs, the team that threw more interceptions lost every time.

Final Analysis

If we're lucky, this will just be an appetizer before another playoff showdown. But the winner of this game will be the heavy favorite to host said game in January, putting all kinds of pressure on this matchup. Naturally this will come down to quarterback play, where the Chiefs will likely have a narrow edge at home. Because of that, it feels like the wrong team is favored here — it's hard to imagine the Bills would really be six-point favorites at a neutral site.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Bills 28

*Price as of publication.