The Timing of the AFC Championship Game Between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills Is Eerily Incredible
In fact, it was these very teams that met for the honor of representing the AFL in the very first Super Bowl following the 1966 season, a game won by Kansas City. The Chiefs and Bills then met in the AFC Championship Game following the 1993 season, which was won by Buffalo. And now the two teams will meet on Sunday to determine the AFC representative in the Super Bowl for the 2020 season.
Now, it can’t be just me that noticed the amazing pattern of these games, right? Just take a look at the numbers above one more time and see if you can catch it. We’ll wait…
Okay, that’s long enough. Maybe it’s just me being a bit of a numbers nerd but I think it’s incredible that each gap between these title games is a span of 27 years. That first game was played in January 1967. The second was in January 1994. And this third one is in January 2021. Sorry, but that’s just fun.
So let’s get all caught up on what happened in those first two championship matchups between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills and then look at Sunday’s AFC Championship Game and how things could play out there.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in January 1967 to earn a trip to Super Bowl 1
1966 was the seventh year of the AFL’s existence and also the year that the league entered into merger talks with the NFL, a merger that was fully completed in 1970.
To get the ball rolling, the two sides came to an agreement that their respective champions would meet in an interleague matchup at the end of the ’66 season called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, which we all know today as Super Bowl 1.
The Buffalo Bills entered the 1966 season as two-time defending AFL champions and earned their spot in the AFL Championship Game by winning the Eastern Division with a 9-4-1 record. As for the Kansas City Chiefs, they earned their way in by winning the Western Division with an 11-2-1 mark.
The teams split their two games against one another during the regular season with both winning on the road. Despite having the better record, the Chiefs were actually the visiting team for the AFL Championship Game but were still listed as three-point favorites.
It was a cold, rainy day in Buffalo on January 1, 1967, and it seemed early on that the game would be close throughout. The Chiefs and Bills were tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter but Kansas City scored 10 points in the second quarter to take a 10-point lead into halftime. Following a scoreless third, the Chiefs tacked on 14 more points in the final frame to earn a 31-7 victory and a trip to Super Bowl 1, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Future Super Bowl MVP quarterback Len Dawson led the offensive attack for the Chiefs, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns while the Kansas City defense forced four turnovers in the final three quarters.
The Buffalo Bills got their revenge on the Kansas City Chiefs 27 years later
The Buffalo Bills came into the 1993 NFL season coming off their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance (and loss) but made their way back to the AFC Championship Game for a fourth consecutive year by winning the AFC East with a 12-4 record and then knocking off the LA Raiders in the divisional round of the playoffs.
As for the Kansas City Chiefs, the ’93 campaign was their first with Joe Montana under center. They won the AFC West with an 11-5 record and then survived an overtime thriller against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round before taking care of the second-seeded Houston Oilers in the divisional round to set up a matchup with Buffalo in the AFC Championship.
The game took place on January 23, 1994, and it was another blowout. But it was the Bills that came out on top this time around. It was again close after the first quarter as Buffalo held a 7-6 lead. But the Bills broke it open in the second quarter by scoring 13 unanswered points to take a 20-6 lead into the half.
The Chiefs got within a touchdown in the third but the Bills tacked on 10 points in the fourth for a 30-13 victory, which, oddly enough, was the same score in their ensuing Super Bowl loss to the Dallas Cowboys. See, numbers are so fun, aren’t they?
Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas was a monster for the Buffalo Bills in that AFC Championship Game, rushing 33 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen will square off on Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl 55 on the line
It’s been 27 years and one day since Buffalo and Kansas City last met in the AFC Championship and the Chiefs are finally getting a chance to be the host team as they earned the top seed in the AFC with a 14-2 record. They earned a hard-fought victory over the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round, a game in which reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes went down with an injury. Mahomes will be in action today but won’t be at 100 percent as he’s dealing with a case of turf toe.
As for the Buffalo Bills, they earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a 13-3 record, their best finish since 1991, and won their first AFC East title in a quarter-century. They squeaked by former Bills quarterback Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round and then knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round to earn their trip to the AFC Championship since that matchup with the Chiefs 27 years ago.
The Chiefs defeated the Bills in Buffalo in Week 6, 26-17, and are the favorites in this game. But given the way Josh Allen has played, it really wouldn’t be a major upset if the Bills came away with a victory. But we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out to see who represents the AFC in Super Bowl 55.
Given the young talent on both teams, especially at the quarterback position, something tells me that we won’t have to wait until 2048 to see the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills square off in the AFC Championship again.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference