In this age where parity reigns supreme in the National Football League, teams can leave nothing to chance.
Every game takes on added meaning, and with 14 of 16 AFC teams harboring realistic playoff hopes, even one loss can be damaging.
Against that backdrop, the Buffalo Bills (5-4) try to help their postseason cause against the Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) today in sold-out Arrowhead Stadium.
Despite coming off a bye week, the Bills find they have moved into first place in the AFC East. To stay there, Buffalo can't afford another letdown like the one it suffered against the New England Patriots two weeks ago.
"I don't think the margin of error is such that we can't have any errors or bumps along the way, but it is a very small margin," wide receiver Peerless Price said. "We're in a really good position right now because we control our own destiny. You don't want to depend on, 'Well, if Miami beats the Jets then we can squeak in there.' No, you want to control your own destiny, and that's the good thing about it right now."
The Bills certainly can't afford to look past the Chiefs. With two overtime losses and all five defeats by a total of 18 points, it is no wonder they are a frustrated bunch.
Despite this, the Chiefs are just as much in the playoff hunt as the Bills.
The big focus today will be on offense. The Bills and Chiefs rank in the top 10 in total yards and points scored.
The Bills are deadly through the air with quarterback Drew Bledsoe having a career year playing catch with Eric Moulds and Price, the league's best wide receiver tandem.
The Chiefs are spearheaded by a pair of All-Pros in running back Priest Holmes and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Holmes leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage and scoring, while Gonzalez is considered the premier player at his position.
Whether it's by air or land, the Bills' and Chiefs' offenses could make it a long day for the defenses, both of which sit at or near the bottom of the league rankings.