Almost a year to the day will have passed since the Buffalo Bills fell short of the franchise’s first AFC title since 1993.
On Sunday, the Bills will have a shot at reaching the conference championship game for the second straight year. And they’ll have a crack at revenge against the team that denied Buffalo the crown a year ago — and in the same venue, no less.
With a chance at redemption, the Bills visit Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Winner advances to the AFC Championship. Loser heads to Cancun.
After initially opening as a 2.5-point underdog on the road, enough action came across the board within the next two days to narrow the gap to 2 or even 1.5 points, depending on the sportsbook.
Breaking down NFL playoffs: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
For the fourth time in the Super Bowl era, the Chiefs stand in the way of the Bills in the postseason.
Last year, of course, Kansas City shrugged off a sluggish start to power past Buffalo in the conference championship. This came nearly two decades after the Bills dispatched the Chiefs twice during the franchise’s run of four straight Super Bowl appearances. All three cases share a few common threads:
- The home team won
- Each victory was by double digits (average of 14.7 points)
While online sportsbooks in New York favor Kansas City by , the dominance of Buffalo’s defense this season has helped make the Bills a popular pick to pull off the upset. Bettors in New York can find Buffalo moneyline odds at .
Can Buffalo get by Kansas City to keep Super Bowl hopes alive?
It has been nearly 20 years since the Bills last advanced to the Super Bowl, the last of four consecutive league championship appearances with only those appearances to show for it. No hardware. Only heartbreak.
Last season, Buffalo teased at snapping that drought. The Bills jumped out to a 9-0 lead, then promptly allowed 21 straight points and never recovered. After the absolute drubbing of the Patriots in last week’s wild card, hope has been renewed that the Bills could have a realistic shot at lifting the Lombardi Trophy.
Winning Sunday would obviously help. In fact, among AFC teams, only Kansas City boasts better Super Bowl betting odds in New York.
Side-by-side comparison: Buffalo vs. Kansas City
Buffalo and Kansas City have already met this season, with the Bills putting up a 38-20 win in Kansas City in Week 5. By intercepting Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes twice in that game, Buffalo dropped the reigning AFC champs to 2-3 on the season. Times have changed since then, of course. For their part, the Chiefs closed the year 10-2 after that loss. Buffalo, meanwhile, dropped five of its next eight before ending the regular season with four straight victories.
In order to record the upset, the Bills will need to deploy their shutdown defense, a unit with regular-season averages that ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed (272.8), passing yards (163) and points (17). A defense that helped Buffalo put up 30 takeaways (third-most in the league).
But that defense will only be able to do so much. After all, Kansas City has Mahomes, who has averaged the third-most passing yards per game in NFL postseason history. He has weapons all around him, including Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. All part of an offense that put up over 28 points per game in the regular season and dismantled Pittsburgh 42-21 in the wild card round.
If Buffalo can keep the Chiefs’ attack in check, perhaps the Bills’ offense can take advantage of a vulnerable Kansas City defense, one that gave up the sixth-most yards per game in the league this year. Just enough, possibly, for Buffalo to unleash its top-three offense and potentially advance to the AFC Championship for the second straight season.