Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 9:30 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Buffalo -2½ -115 over Kansas City
Orchard Park, NY - CBS
6:30 PM EST. The final game of the Divisional Round may draw more eyes than any of its kind before, as two of the NFL's most popular programs face off for yet another chapter in a well-established rivalry of two AFC giants. Just over a month ago, the Bills earned a 3-point win against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, their third straight defeat of the Chiefs in regular season play. But this isn't the regular season, these are elimination games, and Buffalo has experienced nothing but sorrow against their opponent in postseason play. The now infamous OT Divisional Round contest at Arrowhead back in January 2022 left the Bills speechless, as Josh Allen never got an opportunity to answer after Mahomes and the Chiefs immediately scored a touchdown and moved on. The previous year wasn't any better. Kansas City dropped 38 points in one of Mahomes' best ever performances, leaving Allen and his colleagues wondering how they'd ever beat the NFL's hottest new franchise.
This season the Bills have damn-near done the unthinkable. After falling to 6-6 in Week 13, Josh Allen and a disciplined defense took control of their own fate, winning five straight games. That streak began with a gutsy win at Arrowhead, a contest that was jammed-pack with spectacular risks and incomparable plays by both star QBs. Throughout their latest winning streak, Josh Allen had moments where he took too many risks with his body and his arm, as usual. But he's also willed his team to victory on a countless number of plays in the more pressurized moments. He'll need to be at his best on Sunday. Buffalo's defense is considerably hurt at this juncture of the season, but they've mostly held their own when they needed to. For example, they held KC, Dallas, and Miami, three of the NFL's most dangerous offenses, to just 15/35 (43%) on third down conversions. We love that Buffalo has already faced a ton of adversity and found ways to overcome it. We're not sure their enemy can say the same thing.
Like the Bills, the story of the Chiefs' season is well-documented. Last weekend they looked more like the "old Chiefs," the same group that tends to play their best football in January. Kansas City's defense was stellar against the Dolphins, benefitting from a cold, harsh environment in their home stadium. Patrick Mahomes and rookie WR Rashee Rice hooked up for 130 yards, seemingly solving their "wide-receiver issues" overnight. If that version of the Chiefs shows up, it's hard to see them losing against any team. But we know they haven't always been that stellar this season. Their defense has been consistent and holds many top 5 marks (2nd in points/yards per game allowed, 5th in opponent third down conversion rates, etc.), but their offense hasn't looked in-sync for the majority of their contests. Still, coach Andy Reid and his superstar thrower are at the top of HC-QB duos in the league; there is no pairing we trust more in big game-moments. At the same time, we can't ignore their struggles this season, nor could we deny that we're concerned their offensive chemistry could regress again when the going gets tough.
Sunday will mark the first time Patrick Mahomes plays in a postseason road game as the Chiefs' quarterback. That means it's also the first time Buffalo has hosted KC since this heated rivalry began a few seasons back. KC's offense hasn't shown any stretch of consistent chemistry, even if they looked better in the Wildcard Round. Josh Allen and his offense have been humming for over a month, with budding stars like RB James Cook, TE Dalton Kincaid and others making big plays for their offense. The Chiefs have the better defense and one of the best QBs to ever play on their side, but the raucous fanbase that defines "Bills' mafia" is a considerable difference-maker. Allen and his team play better at home, virtually all their stats markedly improve at Orchard Park, and lord knows they won't be the least-bit intimidated by their opponent. Part of us wanted to blindly take KC. It's hard to oppose Mahomes, that's for sure, but these feel like different circumstances. The Chiefs haven't been as sharp all season, while Josh Allen and the Bills are riding a lightning bolt. We're here for it.
Buffalo -2½ -115 (Risking 2.3 units - To Win: 2.00)