Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs – AFC Championship Game, January 24, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NFL
| January 21, 2021 9:45 am PDT

The second game of the NFL Conference Championship weekend sees the number one and two seeds in the AFC go toe to toe for a place in the Super Bowl. What is also significant is that 17000 fans will be allowed into the stadium to watch the game.

The Bills last won the AFC Championship back in 1993 when they were undoubtedly the best side in the Conference back then having won the Championship the previous three years in a row. Coincidentally when you look back at that 1993 AFC Championship, you will see that they beat none other than the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately for the Bills fans since then, they haven’t been anywhere near the Conference Championship until now, of course.

The Chiefs are the reigning AFC Champions and have reached it for the third year in a row. They lost back in 2018 against the Patriots, who were winning their third straight AFC Championship. However, they bounced back from that defeat to conquer the Titans last year.

In recent times the Chiefs have had the better of the Bills, winning four of the last five head-to-head matchups. This includes beating them in week six of the regular season 17-26.

Perhaps one hope for the Bills will be that they have won four of the last six meetings in Kansas City between the two teams. They have also averaged five points more per game than the Chiefs in the previous ten games between them.

Let’s look at the match odds and then summarize each team to conclude and provide a Bills vs. Chiefs betting selection.

Bills vs. Chiefs Odds

Bills +3-110
Chiefs -3-110
Bills To Win+145
Chiefs To Win-157
Over 53.5-110
Under 53.5-110

The bookmakers see this game as being just as close as the first Championship game and have the same spread in place. However, unlike the NFC Championship game, where the spread came in half a point, this spread has gone out half a point since the betting opened. The points total has jumped a whole three and a half points since the betting opened, which could be significant as in the last ten meetings between these two, they have only averaged a combined total of 41 points.

Bills Analysis

The Bills probably finished the regular season better than any other team on their way to winning the AFC East Division. They won their last eight games to finish the season with a 13-3 record. They won six of their eight games on the road, including the previous three in a row.

Buffalo has probably had the most challenging playoff route to this stage as they narrowly squeezed past the Colts 27-24 in their first playoff victory in a quarter of a century. Therefore, you could have forgiven them for almost fluffing a 14 point lead going into the final 12 minutes of the game. The win seemed to settle their nerves as they then went on to put on a defensive master class against the Ravens, beating them 17-3. The game was level at three apiece at the halftime interval, with both teams defenses coming out on top in the first half. However, the Bills scored two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter, which saw them home to victory.

Here are the latest betting trends for Buffalo:

  • They have only lost one of their last ten games against the spread.
  • The total has gone over in 12 of their last 18 games.
  • Buffalo is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Chiefs.
  • The Bills have won four of their last five games against the spread when on the road.
  • They have only lost one of their last six games against the spread when playing the Chiefs in Kansas City.
  • Buffalo has won their last nine games in a row against AFC opponents.
  • Nine of their last 13 games against teams from the AFC’s West Division has gone over the betting total.

The Bills have a terrific passing offense, which, while it isn’t always glamorous, is effective. They are completing 68% of their passes, which makes them competitive against any team.

They have tended to hold on to the ball longer than they have at home on the road. This has meant that their yards per play have increased as by biding their time, they have waited for opportunities to present themselves rather than forcing the issue. I’m not sure if this is a ploy or just a coincidence, but it is working whatever it is.

Their defense is an area that concerns me, but given the Chiefs aren’t the best defensive unit, either, we can perhaps overlook that slightly. One thing they do well is forcing their opponents into playing quick ball, which can often lead to mistakes. Much like their offense, their defense has played better on the road this season, but this hasn’t always reflected the scoreboard at times.

The star of the show for the Bills has undoubtedly been their quarterback Josh Allen this season. This makes things even more intriguing as he comes up against Patrick Mahomes in what many are describing as a ‘throwing match.’ You, therefore, almost have a game within a game. This is a rivalry that could be around for years to come.

But let’s not forget about their wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, who, without him, Josh Allen would not have had the season he is having. Diggs finished the regular season completing the most receiving yards in the league. That form has continued in the playoffs as he leads the postseason stats too.

Defensively their main heroes in the playoffs have been Matt Milano, Tremaine Edwards, and Jerry Hughes. They will all have to be on point against Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Surprisingly Buffalo comes into the Championship weekend with the least number of injuries, which could undoubtedly be significant. They could even see Butler, Johnson, and Davis return for this game.

Chiefs Analysis

The Chiefs bring the best regular-season record into the playoffs, winning 14 of their 16 games. Even one of those losses came against the Chargers in the last game of the season when they rested the majority of their first team.

With such a formidable record, you would think that there is no chance for the Bills. However, both of their defeats this season did come in Kansas City as they lost to the Raiders and the Chargers, so there is a glimmer of hope for Buffalo.

The Chiefs had a slightly easier route to this stage of the playoffs, as they received a bye in the first round and then beat the Browns 22-17 in the last round. The scoreline suggests that it was a close game, but the reality is the Chiefs led 19-3 at halftime and took their foot off the gas in the second half. Don’t get me wrong, they had an uncomfortable last ten minutes or so, but you always felt that they had another gear in them.

Here are the latest betting trends for Kansas City:

  • Kansas City hasn’t won any of their last nine games against the spread.
  • Four of their last five games against the Bills have gone under their betting total.
  • The Chiefs have lost their last five games in a row at home against the spread.
  • They have only lost two of the last 20 games against AFC opposition.
  • Only one of their last five games against teams from the AFC’s East Division has gone over the points total.
  • The total has gone over in four of their last five games played in January.

The Chiefs have the number one passing offense in the NFL this season. While they aren’t the best rushing side, they are certainly better than the Bills at running the ball. The thing I like most about their offense is that they are quick thinkers and adapt to their surroundings well. One thing to note is that their offense has been a lot worse at home than it has on the road this season. Will it raise its game in front of 17000 screaming fans, or will they wilt with the added pressure of expectation?

Their defense is certainly not as good as the Bills, so they better hope their offense is on point. They don’t make many sacks per game, and I don’t see that changing much against the Bills as they are likely to stand off against Allen so that they don’t leave any gaps for him to exploit. By given up less space, they force their opponents to try and make plays that aren’t there. This is reflected in them having the fifth-lowest passing percentage against them in the league.

However, it allows them to try and make more interceptions, as they can read the game better. They did this against the Browns when Tyrann Mathieu continued his excellent form by completing another interception. He was the MVP that day, and he will need to continue that form against Allen and the Bills.

You can’t talk about the Chiefs without speaking about Patrick Mahomes, who breaks records season upon season. However, he hasn’t trained much this week due to concussion protocol, which will concern Kansas City.

As well as the quarterback matchup, you have the battle between Diggs and Travis Kelce, who both led the way in receiving yards in the regular season. Kelce has scored a touchdown in his last five games in a row, and he will be hoping to continue that streak come game day.

The Chiefs do have more injury troubles than the Bills heading into this one. The biggest concern has been that of Mahomes, but they also have another player struggling with a concussion in Breeland, who left the field of play against the Browns last time. There are also fitness doubts for Watkins, Fenton, Edwards-Helaire, and Gay.

Bills vs. Chiefs Betting Pick

Pick
  • Chiefs To Win
    -157

This game has so many different permutations, and the biggest one is that of the fitness of Mahomes and whether or not he will play. My guess is that he will, but it will still be a concern that he hasn’t played much football over the past few weeks. This is a game of two contrasting teams. By that, I mean the Bills have played against some good teams in the playoffs and came out on top, which gives them good experience but perhaps they are a little more fatigued.

The Chiefs have had things much easier in the last few weeks, and they are well-rested. But they haven’t been in deep water yet, and will they deal with the added pressure of playing in front of a larger crowd? I believe it will be the Chiefs that come out on top as they seemingly have a hold over Buffalo. Although they haven’t played much, they already have the experience from last season.

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