6:40 p.m. ET – No. 2 Buffalo at No.1 Kansas City (-3) O/U: 54
The AFC Championship Game is upon us and all eyes will be upon Patrick Mahomes, the mercurial quarterback for the defending Super Champion Kansas City Chiefs who is attempting what seems to be a rather remarkably return from a head and neck injury he suffered last week. The Chiefs have confirmed that Mahomes has been cleared medically to start the game. The lingering question is whether or not he will be as devastatingly effective as he normally is when completely healthy, or even just a little dinged up.
Buffalo defeated Baltimore 17-3 last Saturday night to advance to its first conference championship game since Jim Kelly was still the team’s quarterback in 1993. Kansas City defeated Cleveland 22-17 to advance to its third straight AFC Championship Game. The defending Super Bowl champions may have won the game, but it is what they lost may have lost in the process that has made all the headlines this week and remains of great concern heading into the contest. On a third-and-inches play in the third quarter, Mahomes took a hit from Cleveland linebacker Mack Wilson, got twisted up, and came out of the play looking mighty dazed and confused. He left the game and did return after it was announced he was in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was cleared to play after passing all protocol tests and practiced with the Chiefs on Friday, telling the media that he’s fine and ready to go.
These two teams met in Week 6, where the Chiefs won 26-17 in Buffalo. The weather was abysmal for that Monday night matchup in Orchard Park, and the Chiefs were forced to use their rushing attack to rush for 245 yards. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a big night and was responsible for 161 of those. But Edwards-Helaire has not played since Week 15 when he suffered an ankle injury. Although he too is hopeful of playing, he has been limited in practice this week and was one of several players listed as questionable Friday on Kansas City’s final pre-game injury report.
Breaking Down the Bills Best Prop Picks
The Bills have proven they can win with both offense and defense this postseason, winning 27-24 against Indianapolis and 17-3 over Baltimore to advance to this game. The Week 6 matchup vs. Kansas City was an anomaly with Josh Allen throwing for only 122 yards in the poor weather. The Bills average 288.8 yards passing yards per game this season, good enough for third in the NFL, so Allen is likely to throw for a whole lot more this time around. The Bills have won eight in a row and were a DeAndre Hopkins last-second Hail Mary catch away from making it 12 consecutive wins following that Week 6 loss to the Chiefs.
The Bills have struggled to establish a run game this season, ranking 20th in the league with 107.7 rushing yards per game. Zack Moss was injured in the Wild Card matchup against the Colts and is unlikely to return the entire postseason. Devin Singletary is now the unquestioned lead back, but last week he gained only 25 yards on the ground and it is likely his player prop of under 39.5 rushing yards will be a good bet to hit again this week. Allen is incredibly mobile and often scramble out of trouble with great effectiveness. With a large focus by the Chiefs on the Bills passing game, expect Allen to rush for well over his 31.5 yard rushing prop, available at BetOnline. Wide receiver John Brown recently returned from injury and been a great deep threat to go with Stefon Diggs, who is Allen’s favorite targer and also a big-play threat. Expect Brown to have at least one big play in this game and cash his over 50.5 receiving yards prop.
Breaking Down the Chiefs Best Prop Plays
If Mahomes is good to go, the Chiefs are in their third straight championship with many of the same pieces that were able to get them there the previous two times and win the Super Bowl last year. Experience has proven beneficial in AFC Championships, with the last seven AFC champions previously having been to AFC Championships within the five years of when they won one to get over the hump.
The Bills are going to be forced to try and limit the damage from Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill if they want any chance to win. The issue is that the Patriots and Titans both attempted to do this in the last two AFC Championship games and it opened the door for Sammy Watkins to eclipse 100 receiving yards. Watkins is currently questionable for this Sunday’s contest. If Watkins plays, his prop should sit around 40.5 receiving yards. Check the injury report to make sure he’s playing and if so, then check that number and take Watkins to catch a couple deep balls to accumulate at least 70 receiving yards. Kelce had 65 receiving yards against Buffalo earlier this yearv and has not had more than 33 receiving yards in the past two AFC Championship games. With Kelce’s receiving prop sitting at 95.5 at BetOnline, take the under on that.
The Case for the Over/Under
The first bet to lock in for this game is the Under of 54. With Mahomes looming as a huge and uncertain variable, this is definitely a number to jump on. Buffalo has the ability to put points up on the board, but pressure is not something to overlook. Buffalo could start this game slow, and do not expect Kansas City to be firing on all cylinders from the opening snap, either. The Chiefs are not the Over machine the public assumes them to be, with the Overs running precisely 50-50 at 8-8 in Kansas City games this season. The Bills, on the other hand, has been an Over machine, with the Over wagers running at 11-4-1 in their games this season. The general public betting masses will be all on the over this, making the Under the more optimal number to take this weekend.
The Winning Pick
The Bills getting three points is the safest side to bet right now, considering the questions about Mahomes injury and his possible ineffectiveness. The inexperience of the Bills has shown at times this postseason when their vaunted offense has stalled out, but that could prove to be beneficial toward keeping this game Under. Take the Bills and the Under with the hopes of Buffalo winning a close game that gets a little sloppier than the many people expect.