AFC Playoff Picks -- Bills have Chiefs just where they want them

  • In Charles Jay
  • Sun, Jan 21st, 2024 11:13:49 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The winner between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday will advance to the AFC title game against the Baltimore Ravens.

After ten games of the season, the Buffalo Bills were sitting with a 5-5 record and they were looking very much like a team that was going to have to scratch and claw to get into the AFC playoffs as a wild card.

Well, as BetOnline customers know by now, they are the AFC East champions and one step away from meeting up with the Baltimore Ravens in the conference title game.

Some may point to the transition at offensive coordinator, where Joe Brady took Ken Dorsey's place. That may not have made a major difference statistically, but it did make Josh Allen more comfortable, might have made the Buffalo offense less predictable and helped trigger them to victories over Kansas City, Dallas and Miami, with a near-miss against Philadelphia (overtime loss).

But it has actually been some adjustments on the defensive side of the ball, where the Bills have been banged up, that have brought home the bacon for head coach Sean McDermott, who makes the defensive play calls. Over the last five games, the stop unit has yielded just 272 yards per game, and with 18 interceptions, they may be well-positioned to force some miscues out of Patrick Mahomes, who threw an uncharacteristic 14 picks over the course of the campaign.

The Chiefs and Bills have played a couple of meaningful playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium over the last three seasons. In 2021 (actually January of 2022) Buffalo had victory in the palm of its hands, only to let the Chiefs get into field goal position in the waning seconds to force overtime. Then Kansas City dealt the fatal blow in the extra session.

The Bills got some measure of payback six weeks ago, although a potential game-winning touchdown on a brilliantly executed catch-and-lateral play by Kadarius Toney was wiped out when Toney infamously lined up offside.

Now the scene shifts to Highmark Stadium in suburban Orchard Park, NY, where, like last week, crews were brought in to shovel snow out of the place. It won't be as brutal as it was last week for either of these teams, but it will be cold nonetheless when they kick it off at 6:30 PM ET.

As we prepare to make our AFC playoff picks, here are the odds on this Divisional Round playoff game as they are posted by the people at BetOnline:

Buffalo Bills -2.5 (-120)
Kansas City Chiefs +2.5 (+100)

Over 45.5 Points -110
Under 45.5 Points -110

And remember that you can get the best parlay payouts available when you access Odds Boosters out of the sportsbook menu!

The difference between the Chiefs last week and this week is that in last week's game, they were playing against an opponent (Miami) that was completely unprepared for the conditions, and obviously flustered by it. Needless to say, that won't be the case this week.

And maybe that's bad news. Patrick Mahomes has done wonders in Kansas City; since this team let Tyreek Hill go, he has been dealing with a group of wide receivers that he can't rely on to make game-breaking plays. In fact, he's had a difficult time trusting them at all; this position group led the NFL in dropped passes. They were hoping that bringing Mecole Hardman back would help, and rookie Rashee Rice offered some light at the end of the tunnel with 130 yards in receptions last week.

There is no doubt that the ground game is going to play a prominent role, and we say that for no other reason than that Buffalo has allowed 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. And they have an ideal guy in Isaiah Pacheco, a physical runner who was a little short of 1000 yards during the regular season.

Still, Mahomes has led an offense that has really struggled at times to get down the field. He's averaged only 6.5 Intended Air Yards, so he's playing safety-first, which makes it even more curious as to how he's thrown all those interceptions.

Defensively, the Chiefs can carry some water. They have held ten different opponents below 300 yards, and no one has gotten to 400 on them. They are ranked seventh in the NFL in DVOA on the defensive side, and opponents have scored 30 TD's against them in 18 games. So this is what Buffalo is up against.

Gabe Davis won't be playing. That will allow KC to afford extra attention to Stefon Diggs. Josh Allen, who has 15 rushing touchdowns, may have to play a bigger role in pulling it down and rolling with it.

This is being pushed as the first road playoff game for Mahomes. Well, it's not his first as the visitor, as he lost the Super Bowl to the Buccaneers in Tampa 32-9. But that game didn't have a crowd. This one will - a brave one.

And that could wind up making a big difference. But defense could dominate here, especially when you look at that previous meeting, in which Allen produced only 5.5 yards per pass attempt.

So we're going UNDER in this Divisional Round matchup.

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