AFC Championship Betting – He’s Playing: Mahomes in the Saddle For Chiefs vs. Bills

by Charles Jay | March 23, 2021 |

The Buffalo Bills have not been in a conference championship game since 1993. That season they made it to the Super Bowl for the last of their four straight losses there. Can they get a happier ending this season? If they could, it would cause quite the uproar with the “Bills Mafia.”

The Kansas City Chiefs are trying to repeat as a Super Bowl champion, and their fans escaped some real anxiety on Friday when it was revealed that Patrick Mahomes, who had been removed from last week's win over Cleveland with a concussion, had been cleared to play.

That's the situation as these teams get together for the AFC title, kicking off at 6:40 PM ET at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City earned these playoff home games by virtue of being the #1 seed in the conference.

AFC Championship


BetOnline NFL Betting Odds:  Chiefs -3 (-115), Total 54

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Buffalo may have surprised some people last week with the job they did on the stop end with a 17-3 win over Baltimore.

It was not a big offensive day for either team, but maybe the important things to remember from that are (a) Lamar Jackson didn't do very much with his legs, chalking up just 34 rushing yards, (b) that Stefon Diggs beat a damn good Baltimore secondary for 106 yards on eight receptions, (c) that Josh Allen didn't turn the ball over, and (d) the Bills managed to beat a very hot team with only 32 rushing yards.

That last point perhaps should be emphasized, because Buffalo might be able to do some business on the ground – if they choose to. Of course, the same can be said of the Chiefs, who even if Clyde Edwards-Helaire not 100% should be able to generate something.

The Chiefs got here by beating a persistent Cleveland team 22-17, and in the process had to hand things over to backup QB Chad Henne, who made a few key plays to preserve the win.

Mahomes actually did go through limited practice before he was informed that he had passed all the protocols. But what we might be a bit more concerned about is a toe injury that he suffered earlier in the Cleveland game. This is the kind of thing that, in the recent past, has affected Mahomes' mobility, as well as his passing, because he can't push off in quite the same way to throw.

Coach Andy Reid stopped short of saying that Mahomes would be 100% for this game, just saying he'd be “OK.”

You really have to like the ability of Allen to run with the football (421 rushing yards). I say that because the Chiefs are likely to do their blitzing with a lot of pressure up the middle, which is their strength, but driving Allen out of the pocket may turn him into a runner. And if he gets into the open field, that is an area where KC wasn't able to handle things so easily.

Tre’Davious White is a guy who does a good job limiting chances for the receiver he's covering, and that means Tyreek Hill will be in for a challenge.

We do know how many threats there are in KC's aerial game, but take note of Buffalo's receivers, because they are capable of putting several dangerous guys on the field at once. Stefon Diggs had 127 catches in the regular season, and 134 yards in two playoff games, but only 46 yards in a 26-17 loss to the Chiefs in Week 6. Keep in mind that the Chiefs have allowed the second fewest yards to wide receivers in the NFL. Tight ends have caught just 40 passes for Buffalo this season.

That's a real positive thing for them, but the Bills have had a tendency to mix things up a little more against the “softer” defensive lines. So they may run more, and Allen has the second-most yards on play-action passes, averaging 9.4 yards per attempt. But they are still only throwing it 37% of the time in road games.

In a game where the perception (much of which is the reality) is that there are two high-powered offenses and suspect defenses, we're going UNDER the total here. And by the way, the Chiefs have played 59% unders at home since Andy Reid's become the head coach.

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