Two teams that have played some thrilling games in both the post-season and regular season meet up Sunday with huge AFC playoff ramifications when the desperate Buffalo Bills travel to Kansas City for a 4:25 p.m. ET game.
In a measure of respect the 6-6 Bills get from bookmakers, they are only 1-point road underdogs against a Kansas City team vying for the top seed in the conference. While the Chiefs have won the recent playoff games between these squads, Buffalo has won two of the last three regular-season matchups.
It’s another head-to-head meeting between two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but questions about both Patrick Mahomes (whether he is playing hurt) and Josh Allen (his propensity to throw interceptions) are swirling around each of these teams.
Bills vs. Chiefs odds
|Bills Moneyline Odds
|Chiefs Moneyline Odds
|Chiefs -1.5 (-110)
|49.0 points (over -110, under -110)
|Dec. 10, 4:25 p.m. ET
About the Bills (6-6 SU, 4-7-1 ATS, 4-8 o/u)
This game would have had a different complexion if the Bills had managed to win that overtime game in Philadelphia two weeks ago, but it’s virtually a must-win at this juncture. It’s looking as if it will require 10 wins to reach the playoffs in the AFC and the Bills have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule in the conference.
They need to win four of their final five games to get to that number and their remaining four games after this are against the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots – who beat them earlier this season, Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins. Two of those games are on the road.
It should help that Buffalo is coming off a bye and the Chiefs are coming off a tough road loss in Green Bay.
The Bills are better than their record indicates, perhaps, but that won’t matter if they’re left home when everybody else is in the playoffs. Buffalo ranks fourth in the NFL in offensive EPA and 11th in defensive EPA. Only three other teams rank as highly in both categories: San Francisco, Dallas and Miami.
Then again, that defensive ranking can be explained largely by the team’s performances before injuries to TreDavious White and Matt Milano, two absences that have proven pivotal for this team.
About the Chiefs (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS, 4-8 o/u)
In a sign of how good this team has been, a Chiefs loss Sunday would represent their first two-game losing streak since the start of the 2021 season.
Mahomes appeared on the Chiefs’ injury report with a pectoral issue Wednesday, fueling speculation the Chiefs’ recent struggles – three losses in the last five games – might have something to do with the injury. Mahomes nonetheless was a full participant at practice, so his availability in this game doesn’t appear to be in doubt, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
Of course, if this is Mahomes playing hurt – he has completed 67.8% of his passes for 3,127 yards, 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions – what might it look like if he were perfectly healthy?
While this game might not be a must-win for K.C., it would certainly hurt to lose a second straight game in which they are favoured. They are a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the top seed in the AFC.
The line reflects the fact the Chiefs will be without one of their leading playmakers. Running back Isiah Pacheco, the team’s leading rusher, has been dealing with a shoulder injury since last week’s game and was ruled out Friday. He will cede the primary ball carrier role to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It was an injury to the latter last season that opened the door for Pacheco to become the team’s starter.
The Chiefs have a good secondary but have not been particularly good at stopping the run. They rank 19th in the NFL, having allowed an average of 114.7 rushing yards per game all season and 122.0 per game the last three games. It won’t help that linebacker Drue Tranquill also is out for this game due to a concussion.
The Bills could look to exploit that weakness and they have shown a better run game this season than in previous years. They have run for an average of 122.3 yards per game and James Cook is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, tied for 10th in the NFL.
Buffalo’s offence in general has ticked up since offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was fired and replaced by QB coach Joe Brady, averaging 33 points per game in its two games. The run game has been part of that and Brady and the other coaches will look to continue that this week against a susceptible Chiefs’ defence.
James Cook (BUF) over 50.5 rushing yards
In addition to the Pacheco blow for K.C., LB Tranquill (concussion) and S Bryan Cook (ankle) are both out. The Chiefs will get LB Nick Bolton (wrist) back, as he practiced all week and came off injured reserve.
The Bills have gotten some players back in recent weeks, but they remain without Milano and White, as well as CB Kair Elam (ankle), who is on injured reserve. Allen still won’t have TE Dawson Knox (wrist), who also is on IR. The Bills haven’t ruled out activating those last two players from IR for this game, but it appears unlikely since they haven’t practiced.
It will be good football weather at Arrowhead Stadium, with temperatures of about 4 C and moderate winds of about 14 km/h, with no precipitation in the forecast.
- The Chiefs are 4-2 against the spread at home this season.
- They have gone 7-5 ATS when favoured by 1.5 points or more.
- The Chiefs and their opponents have hit the under in five of six home games this season.
- The Bills have the NFL’s eighth-ranked pass defence, with an average of 203.3 passing yards allowed per game.
Player Prop Trends
- Only Washington’s Sam Howell has thrown more interceptions than the 14 Allen has coughed up this season. He is -145 to throw at least one pick.
- Similarly, Mahomes’ 10 interceptions rank fourth in the league. He is -105 to throw one or more in this spot.
- Allen rushed for 81 yards against the Eagles and he’ll no doubt be aware of K.C.’s issues stopping the run game. He could be a good play at over-33.5 rushing yards in this one.
Wagers to consider
- The guess here is Buffalo will work hard to establish a run game to avoid having Allen wing it frequently in such a crucial game given his turnover issues. That makes Cook a good candidate to rush for more than his assigned total of 50.5 rushing yards in this one. Cook has eclipsed that total in two of his last three games, including dashing for 109 yards against the Denver Broncos.
- While the Bills might have more motivation in this one given their precarious playoff positioning, they remain banged up and the Chiefs are dominant at home. They’ll be plenty motivated given their previous matchups with Buffalo and this modest spread at home is too good to pass up on what just might be the best team in the AFC.