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Buffalo, Kansas City head coaches to match wits to decide AFC title Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, avoids pressure from Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer during the second half on Oct. 19 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP file photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ten years after firing Sean McDermott as his defensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid will stare across the field at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday and see his protege trying to spoil his hopes of a Super Bowl repeat.

Funny thing: Even after firing him, Reid suspected deep down that McDermott was destined for big things.

“Very organized, very smart and very tough,” he explained this week. “He came from a coaching family — his dad was a heck of a coach. Sean just kind of picked up right from there. Very solid, very good.”

In fact, downright exceptional.

McDermott has the long-suffering Buffalo Bills playing in their first AFC championship game since beating Kansas City on Jan. 23, 1994, when they advanced to their fourth straight Super Bowl. They have won 11 of their past 12 games since losing to the Chiefs in Week 6, beating the Colts in the wild-card round and the Ravens in last week’s divisional round.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, right, avoids pressure from Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer during the second half on Oct. 19 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP file photo)

“He deserves coach of the year, man. He’s taken a franchise there, both he and his general manager, have put this thing together with some bold moves and production now,” Reid said.

Not surprisingly, the job McDermott has done with the Bills neatly parallels the job Reid has done in Kansas City.

Both took over downtrodden organizations and quickly built them into juggernauts. Both have bright young quarterbacks in the Bills’ Josh Allen and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. Both have surrounded them with playmakers, such as the Bills’ Stefon Diggs and the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. And both have built defenses to not only complement two of the best offenses in the NFL, but capable of clinching wins under pressure, as each did last weekend.

Mahomes, who suffered a concussion last week vs. Cleveland, is poised to play after practicing all week.

The Chiefs’ quarterback was cleared to practice Wednesday and took the majority of first-team reps Thursday. Mahomes still needed clearance from team doctors and an independent neurologist, but all signs pointed to him being under center on Sunday.

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