AFC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: BUFFALO BILLS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

BY ADAM GREENE

All the intrigue in this game precedes it as Patrick Mahomes’s status remains unknown as I write this. Regardless of whether the NFL’s best quarterback can play or not, the Buffalo Bills and their Mafioso are singing Kansas City Here We Come as they face off against the homestanding Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

BUFFALO BILLS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3, O/U: 54)

Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Kickoff: Jan. 24, 6:40 p.m. EST

Broadcast: CBS

THE HISTORY

The Bills and Chiefs rivalry goes back to the beginnings of the old AFL, the now defunct league in which both teams were founding members. In spite of match ups that go all the way to 1960, the two franchises have met just 49 times with Buffalo holding a 26-22-1 advantage in the all time series.

They last met up back on Oct. 19 with Kansas City claiming a 29-17 win in Buffalo. Patrick Mahomes threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 161 yards and tight end Travis Kelce hauled in two scores.

Josh Allen had 122 yards passing and led the Bills rushing with 42 yards. He tossed two TDs and a pick.

This will be the fourth meeting in the playoffs between the two squads and second in the AFC Championship game. In that 1993-94 AFC title game the Bills won 30-13, thanks in large part to KC starting QB Joe Montana getting knocked from the game. Buffalo leads the postseason series 2-1.

BUFFALO BILLS (15-3)

The Bills arrive on Championship Sunday thanks to a dominating defensive effort in a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens last week. It’s a good thing too as the Ravens’ defense gave Buffalo all sorts of problems as well, but Josh Allen was the difference. In the battle of 2018 first round picks, Allen passed for 206 yards and a touchdown with no picks. Jackson threw one interception and it was a killer, returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Buffalo defensive back Taron Johnson. The Bills defense sacked Jackson three times and knocked him from the game.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (15-2)

Like Jackson, Patrick Mahomes didn’t get to finish his team’s game in the Divisional Round. Luckily for him, his back up Chade Henne played just well enough to secure a 22-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Mahomes passed for 255 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score before leaving the contest with a concussion. Henne was good for 66 yards, a pick and maybe the biggest fourth down play in Chiefs history. Tyreek Hill caught eight passes for 110 yards. Travis Kelce had eight as well for 109 yards and a TD.

THE PICK

I have two versions of this pick and there’s just no way around it. While Mahomes has practiced all week, he’s still in the concussion protocol as of this writing. Buffalo has a puncher’s chance if Mahomes plays, but I think he’ll haul this team back to the Super Bowl. If he’s in street clothes, Buffalo wins, though Andy Reid and his wackadoo playcalling could make it interesting. With Mahomes, Chiefs 31, Bills 23. Without Mahomes Bills 34, Chiefs 13

LAST WEEK

Straight up: 3-1

Against the spread: 2-2

PLAYOFFS

Straight up: 6-4

Against the spread: 3-7

SEASON

Straight up: 176-89-1

Against the spread: 134-132

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