Championship weekend is upon us, where the final four teams will battle for a trip to Super Bowl LV in Tampa. In the second game on Sunday, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will host their third AFC title game in a row, this time welcoming the Buffalo Bills to Arrowhead Stadium.
Here is a look at Bills-Chiefs, along with betting trends and a free pick. With uncertainty about the status of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City is a three-point favorite.
How They Got Here
With the new playoff system in place this year, the 13-win Bills still had to play in Wild Card Weekend despite being the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They edged past the Colts 27-24, with Allen leading the way with 324 yards passing and three total touchdowns. Last weekend, a 101-yard interception returned for a touchdown was the dagger as Buffalo cruised past the Ravens 17-3.
The Chiefs, who at 14-2 held the No. 1 seed, were able to skip straight to the Divisional Round. However, things got murky when Mahomes left the game with a concussion, and the Browns began to creep back from a 19-3 halftime deficit. However, backup quarterback Chad Henne prevented the upset, icing the game with a clutch 4th down completion to Tyreek Hill to beat Cleveland 22-17.
Before the Bills went on a stretch of winning 11 of 12 games, they hosted the Chiefs in Buffalo back in Week 6. However, Kansas City handed Buffalo a 26-17 defeat, with Mahomes throwing for two touchdowns with only five incompletions.
The Chiefs did most of their damage on the ground, with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire running for a career-high 161 yards on 26 carries. Meanwhile, Allen threw for just 122 yards in the loss but also had a pair of touchdowns, including one to Stefon Diggs.
Starting with the Bills, only wide receiver Gabriel Davis and defensive tackle Vernon Butler were held out of practice on Wednesday. A couple of others were limited, most notably Diggs, who is dealing with a minor oblique issue. However, Buffalo should be fairly healthy, with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end Darryl Johnson still on the injury report but practicing in full.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs will hope and pray for Mahomes. The star quarterback practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday but still has an unknown number of steps to clear in the concussion protocol before being cleared to play on Sunday. Other important Chiefs have been limited in practice as well, including Edwards-Helaire, cornerback Bashaud Breeland (who also suffered a concussion last week), and wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
If you include the postseason, the Bills are 15-3 overall and 12-6 ATS. They are 5-3 ATS on the road this year, but 4-1 ATS in their last five. They're also 9-1 ATS overall in their previous 10 games.
For the 15-2 Chiefs, they are just 6-10-1 ATS, including 3-6 ATS at home. The defending champs have failed to cover in their last nine games, despite winning all but one of them. However, they've beaten Buffalo and covered in four of their last five meetings.
Final Thoughts and Pick
Operating under the assumption Mahomes clears the protocol and plays on Sunday, the Chiefs will still have their work cut out for them. If not for a Hail Mary loss to Arizona, Buffalo would be entering the game on a 12-game winning streak. Allen has been playing at a high level, as has Diggs, and last weekend's defensive performance against Baltimore was impressive.
However, when Mahomes was on the field, Kansas City imposed their will at ease against Cleveland, racking up tons of first downs and building a sizable lead. Their offense is unstoppable when they're at full strength, so Mahomes' health will determine a lot. Assuming Mahomes is in, I'll side with the more well-rounded team to end Buffalo's impressive run and head to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
Betting Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-3).