Way before the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots played each other back in October, Sammy Watkins was quick to say that his friendship with Stephon Gilmore doesn’t exist between the lines.
“You know, we’re boys but on the field that’s kind of going to be my worst enemy and the homeboy thing goes out the window until after the game,” the former Clemson star told reporters.
Never mind the fact that Watkins had a lot in common with Gilmore, a former star cornerback at the University of South Carolina.
Both were taken high in the draft by the Buffalo Bills. Watkins, a skilled receiver, went fourth overall in 2014, and Gilmore 10th in 2012.
But their jerseys have changed and so have circumstances. Only one of them can go to the Super Bowl and Sunday’s AFC Championship game will determine that.
Watkins’ Chiefs will host Gilmore and the Patriots at 6:40 p.m. on CBS.
Neither had eye-popping performances when they met in an epic 43-40 game that came down to a field goal as time expired.
Watkins was limited to 18 yards on two catches, and Gilmore posted just two tackles.
But this time around, the stakes are higher. And both teams have lost key players, elevating the roles of Watkins and Gilmore on their respective teams.
For the Chiefs, a lot of attention will go toward speedster Tyreek Hill, who lit up New England for 142 yards and three touchdowns in October. Gilmore is expected to draw that tough assignment, which could free up Watkins for a big game.
Last week, the former Tiger caught six passes for a productive 62 yards in a blowout win over Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, Gilmore played solid defense and snagged a late-game interception in the Pats’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Here are other former Tigers and Gamecocks looking to reach the Super Bowl:
Taylor Stallworth – A defensive tackle with the New Orleans Saints, the former Gamecock will play the Los Angeles Rams Sunday at 3:05 p.m. on FOX. He posted a tackle and a sack last week against Dallas.
Dorian O’Daniel – The Clemson product is a linebacker for the Chiefs and could play Sunday if he recovers from his foot injury.