AFC Divisional Round
Game time: 6:40 p.m. ET
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: CBS
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Chiefs -2.5; O/U 54
WynnBet: Chiefs -1.5; O/U 55
Caesars: Chiefs -2; O/U 54.5
Bills: 12-6, No. 3 seed
Chiefs: 13-5, No. 2 seed
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Bills - Chiefs preview, analysis and prediction
Bills: won 47-17 vs. Patriots in Wild Card Round
Chiefs: won 42-21 vs. Steelers in Wild Card Round
It doesn’t seem fitting that another Josh Allen-Patrick Mahomes battle isn’t decided in the AFC Championship Game, especially given last year’s encounter.
But alas, we are here again to witness the two best quarterbacks go at it once again, this time in the AFC Divisional Round with a lot riding on this one.
For the Bills, they’re trying to get back to an AFC title game, knowing a win could very well result in the best chance the Bills have to make a Super Bowl since Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas were running wild. And given everything that’s happened this season, who knows if the Bills are going to get another chance put in front of them?
For the Chiefs, it’s a fourth straight appearance in the conference title game that is on the line for the Super Bowl LIV champions and a chance at a third consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl for Mahomes and co. Has Kansas City ran out of gas after playing so much football the past four seasons?
The books, at least upon opening, don’t appear to think so. The Chiefs are 1.5-point favorites going into this primetime matchup against the Bills. After the dominant weekends for the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the AFC during Wild Card Weekend, good luck trying to figure out a definitive winner until the very end.
We’ll start with the home team, who had a ridiculous run after what was a mundane first half. The Pittsburgh Steelers took a 7-0 lead with 10:41 to go in the half after T.J. Watt returned a fumble 26 yards for a touchdown. Clearly the Steelers were not prepared to send off Ben Roethlisberger to the sunset just yet.
The Chiefs, apparently, were.
Mahomes threw three touchdown passes in a span of 5:38 to give the Chiefs a 21-7 lead at halftime. He threw two more in less than a minute to push the lead to 35-7 in the blink of an eye. The Chiefs won 42-21 led by Mahomes’ dominant 404 yards and five touchdowns on 30 of 39 passing.
"We were all pissed at ourselves," Mahomes said. "We weren't playing with enough energy. We weren't playing at a high enough level. We all motivated ourselves. Everyone was talking to each other, and we came out with a different urgency."
The much-maligned Chiefs defense, which turned it around in the final 9-10 weeks of the season, held Roethlisberger to just 215 yards and two touchdowns and kept the Steelers to just 257 yards of total offense.
But the story was Mahomes as it has continued to be. The former Super Bowl MVP shook off a rough start to the season and finished with 4,839 yards and 37 touchdown passes. He became the third quarterback ever with multiple five-touchdown games in the playoffs. It will forever help to have the weapons that he has; Travis Kelce had 108 yards and a touchdown, while Tyreek Hill was mostly quiet (57 yards) but he did have a touchdown. Running back Jerick McKinnon had 142 total yards and a touchdown, as well.
"When you've been to the Super Bowl the last two years and you walk off that field with a loss last year, you want to go back and get that revenge, get that win," Mahomes said. "We have the Bills coming here this next week and we're going to have to play our best football."
Mahomes isn’t wrong. The Bills are also coming off a dominant performance in their wild-card game, a 47-17 thrashing of the New England Patriots that I think signaled the ultimate changing of the guard. Allen was incredible, going 21 of 25 for five touchdowns and not being sacked once.
The Bills led 27-3 at halftime and essentially slayed the dragon that dominated the NFL, and the AFC East, for the better part of two decades. The Bills defense sacked rookie quarterback Mac Jones three times and picked him off twice.
"I think we feel good," Allen said. "There's some things that we can clean up and work on. But at the end of the day, we moved on, we're on to the next one and it doesn't matter what we did today. It's what we do next week."
There’s no denying that both teams remember what happened the last time they faced each other, and I’m not talking that AFC title game. You don’t have to go any further than Week 5, when the Bills went to Arrowhead Stadium and dominated the Chiefs 38-20. Allen (315 yards, 3 TDs) was far and away better than Mahomes (272 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INT) and the Buffalo defense just devoured the Kansas City offense all night.
But like I said earlier, a lot has changed with Kansas City since the midway point of the season. After starting 3-4, the Chiefs ended on a 9-1 run with the only loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. The Bills also had to go through their own struggles, sitting at 7-6 and outside the playoff race after losing 33-27 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buffalo responded with four convincing wins over three inferior opponents and two against the Patriots.
Be very careful how you play this game. For as dominant as the Chiefs have been at home, the spread has not been kind. Kansas City is 5-5 as a home favorite, while 9-9 this season. Considering how low the line is, it could be a toss-up play. However, the Chiefs are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 when the line is between +3 and -3.
The Bills have been able to take advantage of their wins when it comes to the spread. They’re 5-1 this season ATS following a home win of 10 points or more and are 13-5 ATS following a home win over their last 18.
At the end of the day, I’d feel more comfortable if the Chiefs were favored by another point or two. If you can buy that extra point, I’d go for it. The Bills’ defense is going to have another strong game in them, and I think this will be more competitive than that Week 5 matchup. However, I can’t go against Mahomes and how red-hot he’s been. If Aaron Rodgers weren’t in the league, he’d be the MVP right now. I’m taking the Chiefs in a scary close game. Again, play at your own risk. Chiefs by 3
The over is 8-0 in the Bills' last eight as an underdog.
The Bills are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games.
The over is 4-0 in the Chiefs' last four following an ATS win.
The road team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
The Bills are 6-2 ATS in their last eight in Kansas City.
Passing: Josh Allen -- 4,407 yards, 36 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Devin Singletary -- 870 yards, 7 TD
Receiving: Stefon Diggs -- 1,225 yards, 10 TD
Defense: Micah Hyde -- 5 INT
Passing: Patrick Mahomes -- 4,839 yards, 37 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Darrell Williams -- 558 yards, 6 TD
Receiving: Tyreek Hill -- 1,239 yards, 9 TD
Defense: Chris Jones -- 9 sacks
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