Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Prediction and Pick
- Key Stat: Per Sharp Football Stats, Kansas City’s offense leads the NFL in offensive success rate on both passing and running plays, while Buffalo’s defense leads the NFL in defensive success rate on both passing and rushing plays.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Prediction
Sunday Night Football should be a good one, as we’re destined for a matchup with two of the most explosive, and importantly most pass-heavy, offenses in the league. Since the beginning of last year, and longer for the Chiefs, both of these teams have thrown with intent, sitting well on the positive side of the pass rate over expectation (PROE) scale. These teams throw on early downs, and they throw often, and that means more plays, bigger plays, and more points.
Regardless of which team gets up in this game, we are likely in for the trailing team to be throwing, and elongating the game. Don’t be fooled by the relatively low-scoring game (26-17) these teams played early last year — that was a windy and rainy night in Buffalo where the Chiefs controlled the game on the ground. When they met again in the playoffs, 62 points were scored, and the offenses combined for just over 800 yards of offense.
Early this season, the Bills’ defense has looked stout, but they’ve faced a soft slate of opponents so far. In a funny quirk, Buffalo ranks first in the NFL in success rate allowed to both passing and running plays, while Kansas City’s offense ranks first in the NFL in success rate in both as well. On paper, it’s strength versus strength, except Buffalo’s defensive numbers are probably inflated by opponent.
Meanwhile, Kansas City’s defense has been weak, ranking last in success rate against the run and 31st against the pass. Buffalo’s passing game has been seventh so far, despite what I’d call a somewhat slow start, and their run game has been solid at 13th as well. On both sides of the ball, the offenses project to have the advantage.
The total for this game is of course high, at a whopping 56.5 points. In part because Buffalo hasn’t played any high-powered offenses, and they’ve already pitched two shutouts, they’ve gone over that number just once. But Kansas City games have gone over three times, with the only miss being their Week 3 loss to the Chargers with 54 combined points. Two of their games so far have gone over 70, while the other went over 60.
My initial inclination whenever I see a total this high is to look toward the under. Unders are hitting at a high rate so far in 2021, and one other minor note is rain is expected in Kansas City, starting right around kickoff and continuing through the night. But there’s not expected to be much wind, and rain doesn’t typically have much of an effect on offensive production relative to wind. Maybe it makes both playcallers just slightly more likely to call more runs.
Still, I want the over. It’s hard to see game situations where there isn’t plenty of passing, especially late. Drives can stall, turnovers can keep points off the board, yardage doesn’t equal points necessarily — there are definitely ways the variance of football could keep this game under, even if both offenses are great. The math probably says under as well, but count me as a sucker. The way I’d put it is the floor for this game feels like it’s already on the high side, maybe around 45 or 50 total points — both of these teams have scored at least 33 points in three of four games, and the winner seems almost certain to need 30-plus. And the ceiling is pretty clearly over 70, with a 40-something to 30-something final easily in the range of outcomes. On those terms, 56.5 feels like no sweat.
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Pick
Bet: Over 56.5 (-105)