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Chiefs’ Andy Reid and Bills’ Sean McDermott to match wits for AFC title

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid (right) greets Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott after a game in October. Two coaches who used to work together will be on opposite sidelines Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid (right) greets Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott after a game in October. Two coaches who used to work together will be on opposite sidelines Sunday.Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ten years after firing Sean McDermott as his defensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid will stare across the field inside Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and see his protégé 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.

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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.

“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.

“I think he’s done a tremendous job. What a great thing for the NFL and for Buffalo. They love football in Buffalo and he’s really done a nice job with that whole program.”

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.

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Mahomes, who sustained a concussion last week against Cleveland, has been cleared to play after practicing all week.

McDermott never harbored any animosity toward Reid when he was fired from the Eagles on Jan. 15, 2011. Instead, he went to Carolina and over the next five years honed his craft and built his reputation to the point the Bills — who at the time had not made the postseason since 1999 — were willing to give him a shot in charge.

Buffalo reached the wild-card round in 2017 and again last year before reaching the brink of a Super Bowl this season.

“It’s always an honor to go up against great coaches, and Andy will be a Hall of Fame coach here in the future sometime down the road,” McDermott said. “I’ve learned a lot from Andy in my time with him in Philadelphia, so I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his family, the way they helped guide me then and still do today.”