The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs clash in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs on Sunday night, adding the next chapter to a budding rivalry between AFC heavyweights. The stakes are high and the winning team will face the Bengals next weekend.
Kansas City knocked off Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game last year and opened as 2.5-point NFL betting favorites for this postseason rematch, with that spread ticking down as low as -1.5 at some sportsbooks. The Bills were able to get a taste of revenge with a 38-20 win at Arrowhead back in Week 5.
Here are our free NFL picks and predictions for Bills at Chiefs on January 23.
Bills vs Chiefs odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Kansas City opened as a 2.5-point home favorite and stayed there for a few days before this line slimmed to -2 and eventually as low as -1.5 at some sportsbooks. However, as of Thursday morning, you can still find 2.5-point spreads at prominent operators. This total opened as low as 52 points and skyrocketed to as high as 55, before settling in at 54.5 points.
Bills vs Chiefs predictions
- Prediction: Buffalo +2.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Over 54.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Buffalo team total Over 26.5 (-115)
Predictions made on 1/20/2022 at 10:45 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Bills vs Chiefs game info
• Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
• Date: Sunday, January 23, 2022
• Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
• TV: CBS
Bills at Chiefs betting preview
Bills: Marquez Stevenson WR (Out), Matt Breida RB (Out), Tommy Sweeney TE (Out), Bobby Hart OL (Out), Vernon Butler DT (Out), Nick McCloud DB (Out), Josh Thomas DB (Out).
Chiefs: Darrel Williams RB (Out), Rashad Fenton CB (Out), Josh Gordon WR (Out), Joshua Kaindoh DE (Out), Prince Tega Wanogho OT (Out), Shane Buechele QB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Bills are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 games as road underdogs. Find more NFL betting trends for Bills vs. Chiefs.
Bills vs Chiefs picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
Postseason football needs little extra motivation from competitors, but tell that to the New England Patriots – what’s left of them. The Bills took out decades of AFC East angst on the Pats this past weekend, leaving no questions about their intentions to run up the score and prompting a flood of “Stop. Stop. He’s already dead” Simpsons GIFs across social media Saturday night.
What looks like “revenge” (and there definitely was some vengeance mixed in there) is just a Bills team finding its form and killer instinct at the perfect time. Buffalo has wasted little time going for the throat in recent games, outscoring its last four opponents by a combined score of 45-2 in the first quarter – including a 21-0 1Q edge in two matchups with a Patriots’ defense that finished No. 4 in DVOA at Football Outsiders.
The Chiefs defense is a sound group and much different than the stop unit the Bills played back in Week 5. That said, Kansas City has benefitted from some toothless opponents down the stretch while getting lit up by capable offenses in that same frame.
Since December, the Chiefs have played Pittsburgh twice, Denver twice, and Las Vegas (without Darren Waller), allowing an average of just 12.6 points over those five games with teams in the bottom half of most scoring metrics. In the other two outings, KC hemorrhaged 34 points in a loss to Cincinnati and 28 points in an OT win versus the L.A. Chargers.
Buffalo’s attack has been able to crack some of the best stop units in the NFL over the past two months, hanging 31 points on New Orleans (No. 3 in DVOA), scoring 27 points in an OT loss to Tampa Bay (No. 9), 31 points versus Carolina (No. 15), and 33 and 47-point efforts against New England (No. 4). The only thing that’s been able to slow down the Bills offense in that span has been the wild winds in Week 13 and it looks like Mother Nature is playing nice in Missouri this weekend.
Kansas City enters the majority of its games already holding the mental edge over opponents, thanks to its talent-rich roster of skill players and explosive offense. With foes not wanting to trade shots with the Chiefs, they modify their approach with the football, turning to a more passive and patient plan that involves slowing down and running more, in an attempt to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands.
The Bills, however, are one of the few teams that can go blow-for-blow with Kansas City. And with the way they’re erupted in the first quarter – along with the Chiefs’ bad habit of starting slow in the postseason – the opportunity to put KC on its heels is ripe this Sunday night.
Prediction: Buffalo +2.5 (-110)
This Over/Under hit the board at 52 points and, to no one’s surprise, early money injected jet fuel into this number and shot it as high as 55 before some buyback on the Under settled the market consensus to 54.5 points as of Thursday morning.
This total is actually on the low end if you compare it to the previous two meetings between these teams, with Over/Under numbers of 55, 55, and 57 points in their last three head-to-heads (2-1 O/U). Going back to 2017, NFL playoff totals of 50 points or more have produced a 6-11 Over/Under count (65% Unders). I'm not buying into that trend this week.
Part of the Bills’ offensive success has been the emergence of the running game, which has posted at least 119 yards on the ground over the team’s current five-game winning streak, boasting an EPA per rush of +0.091 in that span with a 44.5% success rate, amassing 5.03 yards per carry since Week 14.
The knee-jerk reaction with a strong running game is to think Under, as those shorter gains will also keep the clock ticking and drag out possessions. On the contrary, Buffalo’s rushing attack will flatten a Chiefs run stop unit allowing 4.7 yards per attempt (tied for 31st) and handing over a 44.1% success rate per rush since its "defensive rebirth" in Week 8.
That ability to break off big gains on the ground will dull the Chiefs' pass rush – not that the Bills have been allowing much pressure on Allen, who hasn’t been sacked in four games – while also opening up space for the Buffalo passing game to do damage in their RPO-heavy playbook.
No team has run more play-action snaps than the Bills this season, and the Chiefs defense has struggled to contain other play-action offenses, allowing 28 and 30 points to the Chargers (second-most PA attempts), 30 points to the Eagles (top RPO team), and 27 points to the Titans (fifth in PA attempts).
As for the Kansas City offense, if and when the Bills jump out to an early lead, Mahomes & Co. may have to abandon the run and go pass-heavy to play catchup.
The ground game has been much more prominent in the Chiefs’ playbook the past month but with RB Darrel Williams not practicing this week and fellow RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire still working his way back from a shoulder injury (hasn’t played since Week 16), KC will return to its fair share of air after throwing on 63% of snaps in the first 14 contests. That means bigger gains and plenty of time stoppages, a recipe for Overs.
Prediction: Over 54.5 (-110)
The Bills face a team total of 26.5 points at Kansas City on Sunday. Buffalo has topped that mark in six straight outings against much stiffer defenses than Kansas City. It also owns a +0.202 points per play margin on the road this year – second-highest in the NFL – and did so versus some of the better stop units on their own turfs, scoring 35 points at Miami, 38 at Kansas City, 31 at Tennessee, 31 at New Orleans, 27 at Tampa Bay, and 33 points at New England.
Sure, the Chiefs defense is vastly improved since that last matchup with the Bills in Week 5, but it’s hard not to be. Kansas City was 31st in EPA allowed through the first seven games before slimming that to eighth overall in the second half of the season. That turnaround saw key stalwarts return to health on the KC defensive line but was also the product of a pudgy schedule that featured pop-gun offensive opponents and a run-in with a Rodgers-less Packers team.
That defense wobbled like a baby deer down the stretch, allowing 28 points to L.A., 34 to Cincinnati, and 24 points to Denver. Since Week 15, the Chiefs have plummeted to 17th in EPA allowed per play (+0.020) and have allowed a success rate of 46% in those contests (21st since Week 15).
Pick: Buffalo Team Total Over 26.5 (-115)