The Kansas City Chiefs are the type of team that can bludgeon an opponent at any time, but they are not a perfect entity. Last season they were not as stable along the offensive line as they had been the year before, and when injuries hit before the Super Bowl that spelled a lot of trouble for Patrick Mahomes, who had to run for his life against a fierce Tampa Bay defensive front.
This season defense looks like it is going to be an issue - perhaps the one that holds the Chiefs back from a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. BetOnline customers have watch as this team has lit up the scoreboard. But they have not been able to keep their foes from doing the same.
Against some teams that's a bigger problem than others. The Buffalo Bills are not the kind of opponent where you want to come up short on defense.
So that is a challenge, as Arrowhead Stadium plays host to NBC's Sunday Night game at 8:20 PM ET.
The Bills lost their opener 23-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers but have come roaring back with three wins, including two shutouts. And they've scored 118 points during that time. Josh Allen isn't taking big chucks of real estate down the field (6.7 yards per attempt), but he's got nine TD passes and has made great use of newcomer Emmanuel Sanders, who is averaging almost 17 yards a catch.
Defensively they have done very well, allowing less than 150 yards per game through the air and just 3.2 yards per rush. That statement has to come with qualifiers, as we'll discuss in a moment.
In the Sunday Night Football betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Chiefs are the slight favorites at home:
Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 (-120)
Buffalo Bills +2.5 (+100
Over 56.5 points -110
Under 56.5 points -110
It obviously has to be mentioned that in their two shutout wins, the Bills faced a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett) who had to come in as a sub for the injured Tua Tagovailoa (for Miami) and rookie Davis Mills of Houston. So the challenge of going up against Mahomes is a bit different.
And Mahomes, who did remarkably well to avoid getting sacked ten times in that Super Bowl game, has already thrown 14 touchdown passes with 72% accuracy this season. And even though he is working behind a retooled line, which includes new tackles to replace Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, has been sacked only five times.
The Chiefs have, in recent years, been the kind of team that has gotten around the perceived weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. They are going to have to do that again. But maybe the problems are worse.
They have allowed opponents a league-high 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. They are also dead last in points and yards per drive allowed. And they are yielding 69% completions and almost eight net yards per attempt. So in other words, as good as their offense might be, it doesn't give them much of an edge versus what the stop unit, well, hasn't been able to stop.
So Mahomes has that to deal with, plus the offensive line's development, with the newcomers. One thing Buffalo has been able to do is maneuver itself some winning field position. Their average starting point on offense is the best in the NFL.
And that fundamental edge points us toward the dog and the points.
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