What AFC Championship Bettors Should Take/Leave from Chiefs-Bills Week 6

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Updated: January 21, 2021

Kansas City worked Buffalo 26-17 in Week 6 in a game initially derailed by COVID-19. We’re breaking down that matchup, and what you should – and shouldn’t – expect to see again in the AFC Championship game.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills is a rematch of a reshuffled Week 6 meeting, in which the Chiefs left a rainy Orchard Park with a 26-17 victory as 5.5-point road favorites.  

With those two squads flipping the venue to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday, many handicappers are eating through the box score of that Week 6 war, regurgitating all the recaps, and rewinding that Monday night matchup for any NFL betting hints that could help with their picks and predictions for the AFC Championship Game.   

October 19 was a lifetime ago in football years, and while some happenings from that game could carry over to Sunday’s title game, many will not (like the game being moved from Thursday to Sunday to Monday due to COVID-19 issues the previous week). We dig deep into that first meeting and let you know what to take and what to leave when betting the AFC Championship odds. 

Kansas City 26, Buffalo 17

Take: Chiefs Ground and Pound 

That Week 6 game was a coming-out party for Chiefs rookie RB Clyde Edward-Helaire, who rolled to 161 yards rushing on 21 carries and kept the Bills defense guessing, with the team finishing with 245 yards on the ground and 15 rushing first downs in that win.

While a 200-yard day from the running attack is unlikely, K.C. can still do damage with the rush in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs picked up 123 yards on the turf versus Cleveland last Sunday, with 78 of those gains coming from RB Darrel “Don’t Call Me Damien” Williams. On top of that, CEH is hopeful he can return after being sidelined with an ankle injury since December 20.

The rushing game is key to keeping pressure off Patrick Mahomes (who’s expected to play after suffering a mild concussion last weekend) and even more so if Mahomes can’t go (or gets hurt again) and Kansas City has to turn to backup QB Chad Henne. 

The Bills have been roughed up by the run in the postseason, allowing 163 yards on 30 carries versus Indianapolis and 150 yards on 32 attempts versus Baltimore. The Bills, who rank 17th in run defense DVOA, have also been dominated in time of possession in those two games, touching the football for a combined 50:10 of the total 120 minutes of postseason action. 

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Leave: Mahomes on the Move

Mahomes got in on the rushing fun in Week 6, chipping in with 36 yards on 10 carries versus Buffalo – his season-high in rushing attempts and his third-biggest yardage total on the ground this year. But with concerns about his durability after last week’s concussion scare, how risky will Andy Reid get with his star QB in the AFC Championship?  

Some of those Week 6 running gains came with the Bills flushing Mahomes out of the pocket and others were sneaky takes to pick up a first down or set up K.C. for a third-and-short situation. Mahomes is notoriously slippery in those rushing spots, either moving the chains with a ballsy head-first scramble or making the defense look dumb on a crafty QB keeper. 

On the year, Mahomes has 308 yards rushing on 62 attempts (five yards per carry) with more than half of those gains (158) coming on third down. He’s been huge in the clutch too, with 110 yards on 25 runs in the fourth quarter of games decided by a touchdown or less. His favorite formation for burning opponents with his legs is a four-plus receiver set, running 26 times for 180 total run yards. 

Mahomes was especially active on the ground in the backend of the schedule, totaling 137 yards rushing on 27 attempts in his final six games of the regular season. He opened scoring versus Cleveland with a 13-yard touchdown dash before leaving the game in the third quarter.

Kansas City fans will be holding their breath every time a Bills defender gets close to Mahomes this Sunday, and instinct does take over in those pressure spots. But I don’t expect any scripted runs for Mahomes coming from Reid. That’s a bonus for Buffalo, which has been torched by fleet-footed quarterbacks a few times this season.

 

Take: Bills Shun the Run

Buffalo ran the ball only 23 times in the home loss to Kansas City in Week 6, picking up 3.5 yards per carry for a grand total of 84 yards rushing – half of those coming from QB Josh Allen (42 yards rushing on eight attempts). 

The Bills had to abandon the run in the second half after falling behind 20-10 in the third quarter and RB Devin Singletary finished the day with only 32 yards on 10 carries. He was also targeted twice for one catch and a 13-yard gain. 

Buffalo only hands off on 39 percent of its offensive snaps and shied away from the run in its two postseason wins, carrying the ball only 21 times versus Indianapolis and a mere 16 times versus Baltimore. That would seem counterintuitive against a Chiefs defense ranked 31st in run defense DVOA at Football Outsiders, but the Bills do have a workaround.

Singletary and backfield mate rookie Zack Moss were more involved in the short pass game in the last two outings, using those quick throws as default handoffs. Singletary has been targeted six times for six catches totaling 35 yards in the playoffs and Moss had four catches on four targets for 26 yards receiving against the Colts before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. 

Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll told the media this week that the run game will play a bigger part in their play-calling in the AFC Championship Game, however, I’m not convinced the Bills will change their stripes just like that. But I do see more Singletary targets and short passes from Allen, with Kansas City allowing a league-worst 846 yards receiving to running backs and giving up the fifth-most yards after the catch at 2,085.

 

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