The Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 is the biggest regular season game in Bills history

The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs play this week at Arrowhead in easily the biggest game of this young NFL season. With Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes cemented as the top quarterback in the league, offensive fireworks are guaranteed. Everyone knows how the Bills’ playoff run ended last year, as well as the infamous 13 seconds in the Divisional Round last year at the same spot.

Here we are, nine months later, preparing for a rematch between two Super Bowl favorites. Since that game, the Bills have improved their defensive play, adding veteran star Von Miller and the Chiefs lost pro bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Bills finally seem to hold the edge over the Chiefs when it comes to rosters, as evidenced by the fact that the Chiefs are underdogs at home for the first time in a very long time.

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All eyes of the nation will be on this game on Sunday at 4:00 PM ET and it is one of the biggest regular season games Buffalo has ever had. Which made me wonder where this ranks among the top five Bills regular season games of all time. Let’s look at history.

5. Buffalo Bills Make Tom Brady and New England Patriots Deadly (2011)

bison bills
Credit: USA Today Network

The Bills entered the 2011 season with fifteen straight losses to the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and the Pats have one of the longest stretches of dominance against one team the league has ever seen. The Bills entered this 3rd game of the season with the best record in the league through the first two weeks and seemed destined to put up a good fight against their arch nemesis.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, they had celebrated in the last second against the Raiders the week before and seemed to have a confidence about them that many teams of years past lacked. The Pats, not surprisingly, entered the game with a 2-0, 9-point lead a favorite on the road, against their divisional “rival”. While many may not have looked at the Bills as having much of a chance to win the game, there weren’t too many times for this sense of optimism in previous years, even if it was only the third week of the season.

A win or a close effort would show that this 2011 team could be the one to break the drought. After four Tom Brady interceptions, the Bills sealed the victory with a last-second field goal in what is still known as one of the loudest environments ever in what is now known as Highmark Stadium. The Bills didn’t capitalize on the momentum though, ending the year by losing 10 of their final 13 games and missing the playoffs once again.

4. Bills vs. 49ers ‘No punt game’ (1992)

ESPN personality Chris Berman has been predicting the 49ers/Bills Super Bowl for years in a row. The moon would never line up for that game as both were dominant among their respective conferences. This early 1992 game, billed as a possible preview of the Super Bowl, was the closest we ever got. Man, it did not disappoint.

The Bills entered the season with back-to-back Super Bowl losses to the Giants and Redskins, respectively. The 49ers entered 1992 after missing the playoffs in 1991 for the first time in nine years, despite going 10-6 that year. Steve Young, now a Hall of Fame quarterback, started for the 49ers in place of Joe Montana, a Hall of Famer himself. The play would go down as the first non-punting game in NFL history. The Bills, led by quarterback Jim Kelly, would emerge victorious 34-31 as Kelly and Young combined for 853 yards passing and 6 TD passes.

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Young would go on to play the rest of the year in Montana’s place, falling short in the NFC Championship to the Dallas Cowboys, erasing any chance of a rematch of this great game in that year’s Super Bowl.

3. Bills beat Miami Dolphins for division title without Kelly (1990)

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Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Time probably kept this game lower on the list than it should be. Hindsight is always 20/20, it’s debatable for the number one spot. The Bills entered the game 12-2 and the Dolphins 11-3, but the Dolphins had already earned a win in Miami earlier this year, so a win here would put them in the driver’s seat in the final week of the season to win the division.

Kelly suffered a sprained knee the week before against the Giants and was out 2-4 weeks. This was just another factor that made this game so important in retrospect. Career backup and “greatest comeback of all time” quarterback Frank Reich would have to take the helm and beat Dan Marino and the mighty Dolphins to secure not only a home field in the playoffs, but a much-needed bye week, allowing Kelly enough time to recover for the first playoff game, which ironically was against the Dolphins a few weeks later.

The fact that Reich and the Bills were able to pull off this win in Week 16 of the season sent the Dolphins back to Buffalo for a playoff game, against a healthy Kelly. Kelly would outplay Marino on the snow in Buffalo in the divisional round of the playoffs, leading the Bills all the way to their first Super Bowl in team history.

2. Drew Bledsoe and attorney Milloy meet old Patriots friends for season opener (2003)

Number 5 on this list was in 2011. This game was in 2003. There have been two presidential elections, four Olympics, and four Fast and Furious movies. This was the last game the Bills beat the Patriots before the 2011 game. This match caused all the fuss. After a stellar statistical year from Bledsoe in 2002 in his first year with the Bills, it was obvious that the team needed to add defensive help if they wanted to compete for the playoffs and against his former team for a division title.

So the Bills took over the free agency market and added defensive tackle Sam Adams and linebacker Take Spikes during the offseason. Then, just five days before the start of the season, something crazy happened. Bill Belichick cut All-Pro safety Milloy after issues arose over his contract. The Bills immediately spoke with Milloy’s agent and he immediately joined the team. When Milloy was announced at the stadium as the starting safety, the roar of the crowd may have broken windows as far away as Foxboro.

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Both Milloy and Adams would have immediate hits, as Adams would return a push pass for a 37-yard TD return in the second quarter, and Milloy would later end a Patriots drive by sacking his former teammate at safety. The Bills would go on to win 31-0, but again fell short of their playoff goals that year.

1. The Bills and Chiefs are playing in a rematch of Super Bowl contenders

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Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s in the present, but this game rightly deserves to be on this list, even if you think the number one spot is too high. When you consider the playoff battles of the last few years, the heartbreaking way the last one ended for the Bills, and the two best running backs in the league facing off, it’s easy to see why this game will be one of the most watched of the year in the NFL outside of prime time.

The Bills and Chiefs have the two best chances to win the Super Bowl, and the Bills have the edge for now. Those odds would change if the Chiefs could beat the Bills this week, as they would then control their destiny to the top seed, the only bye, and home field advantage during the playoffs. There is no doubt among the leagues that this is a preview of the AFC championship game if both teams stay healthy, but the outcome of this game will play a big role in who will host that game if there is a result.

The last time these two teams faced each other, that is went down as perhaps the best game in NFL history, and if not that, you almost have to consider it the best final minutes of a football game. Every week, Mahomes and Allen dazzle both national and local audiences with no-look passes and superman-like tackles. This turns into every bit of Aikman vs. Young, Marino vs. Kelly, and Manning(s) vs. Brady. For Buffalo fans, it’s been a long time since they’ve been on such a big national stage, and they’ll be hoping to avenge a nighttime playoff loss this Sunday as these two titans go at it.

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