AFC Conference Championship: Chiefs/Bills Preview

by Alec McMordie

The AFC Conference Championship Game features a rematch of Kansas City’s 26-17 victory in Buffalo against the Bills as a 5.5-point favorite on October 19th.

Buffalo responded to that setback in mid-October by winning eleven of their next twelve games to earn this opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. The Bills were perhaps just a Hail Mary play by Arizona on November 15th from being on a twelve-game winning streak going into this opportunity to avenge their loss to the Chiefs. Buffalo defeated Baltimore at home last Saturday, 17-3, as a 2.5-point favorite.

The Bills only gained 220 yards in that game in what was a defensive struggle. Yet Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense was on the field for just 24:27 minutes in that game. The Ravens were on offense for over 35 minutes in that game. They gained 340 total yards of offense, but the Bills held them to only 4.9 yards-per-play. Baltimore was poised to tie the game in the second half, but a 100-yard interception touchdown return flipped the script from an imminent 10-10 score to a Buffalo 17-3 lead.

Allen completed 23 of 37 passes last week for 206 yards with a touchdown pass. He completed 69.2% of his passes in the regular season for 4544 yards with 37 touchdown passes and ten interceptions. He also rushed for 421 yards with eight touchdowns. In his two playoffs games this postseason, Allen completed 49 of 72 passes at a 68.1% clip for 530 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has rushed the ball 18 times in this postseason for 57 yards with a touchdown.

Kansas City earned the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl championship by defeating Cleveland by a 22-17 score last Sunday as a 7.5-point favorite. The Chiefs raced out to a 19-3 lead at halftime before hanging on to win the game after Patrick Mahomes left the game after entering the concussion protocol. He was cleared for the concussion protocol on Friday to play in this game. However, Kansas City’s star quarterback may not be at 100% given the turf toe injury he incurred on his left foot in that game.

Mahomes completed 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards with a touchdown pass before leaving the game. He also rushed for 14 yards with another touchdown. He completed 66.3% of his passes during the regular season for 4740 yards with 38 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He added 308 rushing yards with two touchdowns.

Besides Mahomes’ toe, Kansas City has a sizable injury list for this game. Linebacker Willie Gay is out with a high ankle sprain. The following players are questionable but did participate in limited practice on Friday: cornerback Bashaud Breeland, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, cornerback Rashad Fenton, wide receiver Sammie Watkins. Running back Le’Veon Bell is questionable with a knee injury after not practicing on Thursday and Friday.

Buffalo has only two players questionable in defensive tackle Vernon Butler and wide receiver Gabriel Davis. Both players participated in their first practice of the week on Friday. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs were both full participants in the Friday practice after being on the injury report earlier in the week.

The temperature will be 38 degrees for the 6:40 PM ET kickoff with winds at 7 MPH. The precipitation chance is at a low 5% at game time and increasing to 15% throughout the night.

BetAnySports lists Kansas City as a 3-point favorite, with the total set at 54.5. CBS has the broadcast.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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