AFC Championship Game Preview: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefsby Christopher Gallagher January 23, 2021 1 comment
AIn a rematch between two of the AFC’s premier offenses, the Buffalo Bills travel to Kansas City to battle the Chiefs this Sunday in the conference championship game. Among the final four teams in the league for the first time in over 20 seasons, the Bills thrillingly defeated the Baltimore Ravens a week ago.
The Chiefs are looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Kansas City first held off the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round after quarterback Patrick Mahomes was forced to leave the game with a concussion. After veteran backup quarterback Chad Henne made some key plays, Andy Reid’s group converted a fourth and one near midfield with two minutes remaining to secure a date with Buffalo. In the third conference championship matchup between these two franchises all-time, here’s what to expect.
After losing to Kansas City in Week 6, Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense began to slow down within the last two weeks. The Bills averaged just over 244 passing yards and 308 total yards per game. The group has yet to find the spark that led the team to finish as the third overall offensive unit in the National Football League. Sean McDermott’s group needs to be efficient both in the red zone and on third downs to pull off the upset. After heading into the playoffs with the highest third-down conversion rate at 49.7 percent, the Bills have struggled to keep drives alive over the last two weeks.
The Bills found success on just 6 of their 22 opportunities this postseason. The group will be faced with navigating a Chiefs’ defense that sent extra rushers on over 35 percent of their plays during the regular season. However, one key area offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will look to hold a decisive advantage in is in the red zone. Steve Spagnuolo’s unit finished 32nd in the league in red-zone percentage. Opposing teams scored on 76.6 percent of their drives inside the 20.
Buffalo’s defense delivered one of its finest performances against the red-hot Ravens last Saturday. The group held their opponent to 190 yards through the air by stifling the reigning MVP all game long. The Bills only allowed three total points. One key matchup for Leslie Frazier’s group will be between linebacker Matt Milano and tight end Travis Kelce, one of the league’s most elite pass-catchers. The 31-year-old racked up two touchdown receptions in the first meeting between these two teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs hope to have Mahomes behind center on Sunday as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the second season in a row. After being knocked out of the game against Cleveland, the reigning Super Bowl MVP remains in the concussion protocol. There is an expectation that he will start behind center as the team received positive news on the injury front this week. Both rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins returned to practice.
In their Week 6 matchup, Kansas City rushed for over 240 yards, with Edwards-Helaire leading with 161. However, the Bills have given up over 300 rushing yards in their last two games. This should set up the Chiefs’ ground attack to complement their potent passing game once again on Sunday.
The team will need to disguise their looks up front to knock Allen off his spot. The Chiefs’ defense finished as the tenth-ranked overall unit during the regular season. They look to generate pressure behind the tandem of defensive tackle Chris Jones and pass rusher Frank Clark. The Chiefs have been successful all season long at limiting plays across the middle of the field, racking up 22 takeaways in 2020 and two in the AFC Divisional Round. Kansas City’s secondary will likely be down a key member of their defense’s back end on Sunday, as they look to limit the Bills wide receiver group led by star wideout Stefon Diggs. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol after leaving the game a week ago.
Date: Sunday, January 24, 2021
Start Time: 5:40 PM CST
Location: Kansas City, MO
Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: KC -3 (-110) | BUF +3 (-110)
Moneyline: KC -170 | BUF +140
Over/Under: O 54 (-110) | U 54 (-110)
Bet the Bills on a small action play in a game that they have an excellent chance of winning outright. Kansas City is barely treading water late in games, leading to a record of 0-8-1. Buffalo has been excellent against the number over their last ten games, leading to a record of 9-1. With the game total set at 54 points, bet the over in a matchup that should feature plenty of offense. Both teams finished 2nd and 6th in points per game during the regular season. This should lead to plenty of scoring on Sunday.
Look for Buffalo to outlast Kansas City and advance to the big game for the first time in over 20 years. Buffalo has won eight consecutive games before Sunday. Allen and the Bills offense will keep up with Mahomes and company all game long while making enough stops on defense to secure the win.
Final Score: Buffalo Bills 31 Kansas City Chiefs 30