Few people probably expected the Buffalo Bills (6-6) and Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) to come into this matchup with a combined 14-10 record, but here we are, and the game is still very important in the AFC playoff race.
The Chiefs are currently the No. 3 seed and still hoping for things to break their way for another No. 1 seed. The Bills had a bye week to recoup from that tough overtime loss in Philadelphia, and they need to be in playoff mode as they are the No. 11 seed and probably need to run the table against a difficult schedule.
But who better to win at Arrowhead than Buffalo? The Bills did it in 2021 and 2022, and they would have won the last 3 meetings had they managed 13 seconds of a playoff game better.
The Chiefs are also coming off a loss in Green Bay where the defense had its worst game of the season, allowing a season-high 27 points on just 7 drives to Jordan Love and company.
The Bills are a 2.5-point road underdog, but they have what it takes to beat this Kansas City team and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.
Let’s see why Buffalo can get the job done and hand the Chiefs a rare losing streak, so you can take opportunity off it at our main offshore sportsbooks.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 10, 2023 – 04:25 PM ET at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Bills Do Not Look Like a 6-6 Team
The Bills only have themselves to blame for not being right in the thick of this race for the top seed in the AFC, because this is statistically still a top 5 team on offense and defense. Buffalo also ranks better or fares well with Kansas City in many key metrics:
- Buffalo’s plus-101 scoring differential is No. 3 in the AFC, ahead of No. 4 Kansas City (plus-67).
- The 2023 Bills are the 1st team since the 1950 Eagles (plus-113) to have a scoring differential above 100 through 12 games despite having 6 losses.
- Josh Allen (72.4) ranks No. 3 in QBR, ahead of Patrick Mahomes (69.7), who is No. 4.
- The only offense with a lower sack rate than Kansas City (3.6%) is Buffalo (3.3%).
- Buffalo’s offense is converting an NFL-high 49.7% of 3rd downs.
- The Bills are No. 2 at scoring touchdowns in the red zone (67.4%).
- The Bills and Chiefs have both turned the ball over 20 times, but the Bills have 21 takeaways compared to just 14 for the Chiefs.
- The Bills and Chiefs both rank in the top 5 in defensive pressure rate with a virtual tie at 25.5% according to Pro Football Reference.
How is Buffalo only 6-6? The Bills have blown a league-high 4 leads in the 4th quarter and overtime. You can go back to opening night against the Jets when Allen had 4 turnovers and they gave up a game-winning punt return touchdown in overtime. But they also had the egregious letdown on defense against Mac Jones and the Patriots in Week 7, a 29-25 loss to a terrible New England team that hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any other game this season.
The Bills blew a game against Denver that could prove fatal in the playoff standings. They would have won that one if they didn’t have 12 men lined up on the field goal that Denver missed.
Then the Philadelphia game was a tough one where the Eagles made a 59-yard field goal to force overtime. The Bills kneeled down for overtime, only scored a field goal, and then watched Jalen Hurts run in the game-winning touchdown on a ridiculous defensive call by Sean McDermott.
The Chiefs are a team known to beat itself on occasion, but the Bills are doing it even more this year. They’d be so dangerous if they could just get out of their own way.
Josh Allen vs. Kansas City Defense
This has been a weird year for the Chiefs in that the defense has consistently ranked higher than the offense with Mahomes. But it is easier to sustain offensive success in the NFL, and it can be harder to do on defense once injuries start settling in and the quality of the opponent matters more.
The Chiefs did not look good at all defensively in Green Bay last week. Jordan Love had answers for the pass rush, and he was aggressive and accurate with big plays down the field. The Chiefs only had 7 drives in part because they couldn’t get off the field against Love, so it ended up being a limited-possession game where every mistake gets magnified.
Right now, the Kansas City offense is not playing at a high enough level to win shootouts like that. Kansas City’s only win against Buffalo in the last 3 games was the biggest shootout of them all in the 2021 divisional playoff classic, won 42-36 in overtime by the Chiefs.
The Bills won 38-20 in Kansas City in 2021, handing Mahomes the worst home loss of his career. But the Bills also won 24-20 in Kansas City last year, intercepting Mahomes on the final drive of the game after Allen put his team ahead.
This Kansas City defense has really lacked answers for Allen, who has 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 5 career meetings since 2020. He has thrown for at least 287 yards and multiple touchdowns in the last 4 meetings while also rushing for a fair chunk of yards.
Allen has been intercepted in 10-of-12 games this year, but a lot of his picks have been defensible. They were tipped balls on good throws or Hail Mary situations. He did get himself into trouble against the Jets and Broncos with bad picks that hurt the team’s effort to win, but overall, the number on his turnovers is misleading this year.
Kansas City has some really impressive defensive performances on its resume this year, including the Miami win in Germany. But we are starting to see the tide turn here as injuries and attrition creep up. The Chiefs were horrible to start the game in Vegas against Aidan O’Connell before settling down, but they never really settled down against Love and the Packers last week.
With Allen’s experience of playing this defense, his success in Arrowhead, and his familiar cast with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, the Bills can go into Kansas City and drop at least 24 points on Sunday.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Chiefs are not scoring like they used to, so it no longer takes a ton of points to beat them.
Bills Can Contain Chiefs on Offense
After only having elite offenses since 2018, the Chiefs have been closer to ordinary this season with a No. 11 scoring offense rank. The list of reasons for this is long, but they are largely built on the decisions the team made in the offseason:
- Relying heavily on 34-year-old Travis Kelce, who looks like he has lost a step, was always going to be risky as the team did not bring back de facto No. 1 wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
- Rashee Rice has been solid as a rookie, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling has regressed, Skyy Moore is not working out, Kadarius Toney is a gadget player at best, and Justin Watson should be a depth receiver as the wide receivers continue to hurt an offense that leads the league in dropped passes.
- Letting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. go and adding flawed veteran tackles Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor has led to inconsistent tackle play and way too many penalties from those guys to harm drives.
- Replacing offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy by promoting Matt Nagy to his job has not been a death blow to the offense, but it is hard to deny it hasn’t been an upgrade.
Having said that, the Chiefs are close on offense if they can cut down on their mistakes, but they are not built for shootouts right now. Someone is either going to drop a pass, lose a fumble, or create a holding penalty that derails a drive. We have already seen the Chiefs held to 21 points 7 times this year. It happened 3 times all of last year, and that includes a 24-20 home loss to the Bills.
Buffalo has had some big injuries on defense this year like Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White, but this unit has still been respectable for the most part. The Bills are familiar with playing Kansas City, and they are not going to fear these wide receivers.
It could be another great game between these teams, but if Allen shows up with his A game and doesn’t throw a pick parade, the Bills have a great chance to win this game outright and get back above .500.
NFL Pick: Bills ML (+125) at Bovada
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