Buffalo Bills Vs. Kansas City Chiefs Betting Odds
It always felt like this season was leading up to this game, although I expected it to come in the AFC Championship, not in the divisional round. Nonetheless, the Bills and Chiefs were destined to meet at some point this postseason. In Kansas City earlier this year, the Bills earned a measure of revenge after the Chiefs erased a 9-point deficit and beat them in the AFC Championship last year. Now, with both teams arguably at their best all season, this game feels like a worthy tiebreaker to what is becoming one of the best rivalries in the NFL. In my eyes, the winner of this game will be heading on to the Super Bowl, and the stakes could not be higher. So, if you’re going to bet on this game, where should you put your money? Let’s discuss.
Buffalo Bills Vs. Kansas City Chiefs Injury Report
Buffalo Bills: DE Mario Addison (shoulder) Q
Kansas City Chiefs: RB Darrel Williams (toe) Q, CB Rashad Fenton (back) Q
Buffalo Bills Betting Odds
The Bills made playoff history last week by going an entire playoff game without a punt, field goal, or turnover – they ended all seven of their offensive drives with a touchdown. I thought the game against the Patriots might be decided by a larger-than-expected margin, but I certainly didn’t expect that insane level of offensive output. Josh Allen was excellent with a near-perfect passer rating and five touchdowns on only 25 passing attempts. Devin Singletary ran for 5.1 YPC and tallied two touchdowns as he continues the best stretch of his career. Singletary’s continued great play, along with Josh Allen’s presence as a runner, has allowed the Bills to be a far more multi-dimensional offense than they were last year. Allen was up-and-down all season, but when his passing is on point, this offense is perhaps the most dangerous in the NFL with playmakers all over the field. Last week, Dawson Knox was the big name with 89 yards and two touchdowns, but six players had multiple receptions while Allen only completed 21 passes. With Brian Daboll calling the shots on offense, the Bills can beat opposing defenses in a wide variety of ways.
The loss of Tre’Davious White still hangs over Buffalo, but it doesn’t seem to have entirely derailed their defensive production. In fact, the Bills have held their past five opponents to an average of just over 15 points per game, and they still rank first in the NFL in defensive DVOA. No team has a better safety tandem than Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, and the Bills utilized the Cover 2 shell to perfection with those two in holding Patrick Mahomes to one of his worst games of the season earlier this year. The Bills came up clutch with four takeaways in that game, but that was during an absurd stretch of bad turnover luck for Kansas City, and we can’t bank on that to continue. The emergence of young pass-rushing talents such as Gregory Rousseau, Carlos Basham, Ed Oliver, and A.J. Epenesa has helped the Bills field a much more competitive front seven. However, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce can still create plenty of issues for them.
Kansas City Chiefs Betting Odds
The Chiefs’ slow start to the season was largely overblown, and they got incredibly unlucky with turnover luck early on, which contributed significantly to their struggles. We saw it for years with Tom Brady in New England – everyone wants to dethrone the top quarterback on the top team as quickly as possible, and Patrick Mahomes has proven he can deliver in the postseason. For all of the media hype about his poor season, he still ranked fifth in QBR and fourth in EPA. We know all about how dominant Hill and Kelce can be. Still, the emerging piece in this offense, which can be a big difference-maker, is Jerick McKinnon, who had 142 yards from scrimmage against the Steelers. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams are still working through injuries so that McKinnon might be called upon for a significant role again this week. Kansas City worked tirelessly to fix its offensive line over the offseason, and it’s paid dividends this year. Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney have been massive veteran additions, while Creed Humphrey, PFF’s top-rated center, and Trey Smith have been draft-day gems.
Kansas City’s defense has improved as the season has gone on after a horrific start to the year, and Steve Spagnuolo’s defenses always have a habit of peaking in time for the playoffs as he learns how to optimize his personnel. The addition of Melvin Ingram has been enormous as the pass-rusher has allowed Chris Jones to play solely in the middle of the defensive alignment – the duo provides a pass-rush presence that wasn’t quite there against Buffalo earlier this year. Rookie linebacker Nick Bolton has been excellent this year, as well. Kansas City still ranks just 24th in defensive DVOA, but that’s a slightly misleading ranking as their early-season struggles drag that down considerably. During a six-game stretch across November and early December, the Chiefs held their opponents to 10.8 points per game. I’ll be very interested to see how Spagnuolo plans to scheme the team’s secondary depth against the Bills’ loaded pass-catching corps.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Picks & Prediction
There have only been a closing total between 54 and 56 points nine times in the postseason, and the total has gone under all but once. The one time it went over, in fact, was last year in the AFC Championship between these two teams. The total has gone under in those games by an average margin of 13.5 points per game. Both these teams have their defenses peaking right now, and while they both surpassed 40 points last week, they did it against two defenses which I had been saying were overrated in the Patriots and Steelers. These teams have been preparing for this exact matchup for almost a year now, and I’m expecting a slower-than-expected start on the way to a slight under on the total. I would bet the under to 54.5 points.
The Kansas City defense has seen a massive improvement since the teams’ matchup earlier this season, and I don’t see Josh Allen finding things nearly as easy this week as he did against the Patriots. The Chiefs are 14-4-1 ATS in Patrick Mahomes’s career as a 3-point favorite or shorter, and they’ve won nine of their last eleven in that scenario. The Chiefs also have a relatively significant special teams advantage – they rank third in special teams DVOA compared to the Bills’ ranking of 19th on the back of highly-respected special teams coordinator Dave Toub. That may not seem like a huge deal, but it can make all the difference in a game this close.
I want to back the Bills for the sake of seeing something different in the Super Bowl this season, but the Chiefs are still the best team in the AFC. Buffalo has learned plenty since their loss to Kansas City in the AFC Championship game last year, but they caught this team at the perfect time earlier in the season, and beating the same team twice is incredibly difficult. Josh Allen has been far too inconsistent week-to-week this year for this team to string together big wins, and the Chiefs have been the best team in the NFL over the last two months. With the advantage of the better quarterback and head coach who knows what it takes to win in this situation, I’m comfortable backing the Chiefs to cover at home.
My Predictions: Chiefs win 28-24, Chiefs cover, under 54.5 points
Best Bet: Chiefs ML, under 54.5; a 7-point teaser could also be enticing