While the London game might grab the early headlines, another standout fixture is a repeat of the AFC Championship game. Paul Higham has had a deep dive to find all the key areas for the Bills @ Chiefs.
Allen v Mahomes: MVP Candidates Face-Off
The big games just keep on coming in the NFL and hot on the heels of Tom Brady’s New England reunion we have a monumental match-up and re-match between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs and their uber-talented quarterbacks.
Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will take centre stage on Sunday night in a game loaded with personal and team implications in the fight for play-off spots, their own developing rivalry and possible MVP votes.
The teams met in the AFC Championship game last season when Buffalo fancied their chances but came up short at Arrowhead Stadium, and they’ll return on Sunday night with revenge on their minds and in top form after a dominant few weeks.
At 3-1 and with some hugely impressive wins of late, the Bills are in a great spot while the Chiefs are only 2-2 with their defensive problems threatening to stop even their high-powered offence from making it back to the Super Bowl for a third straight year.
The stakes, then, are already huge with the Chiefs under pressure in the unusual position at the bottom of their division – everything is set up for a huge clash in Kansas City.
Who Holds The Edge?
The Chiefs beat Buffalo twice last season, home and away, with the Bills unable to handle Mahomes who threw for 550 yards and five TDs in the two games, while Allen struggled to keep up with 409 yards with four TDs but two interceptions.
Buffalo’s defence seems much better equipped to try and at least slow down Mahomes this time around as they’ve allowed the least points in the league, while Allen has been in dominant form leading them to the third-most points scored.
Even in their opening loss to Pittsburgh, the Bills only allowed 16 points as the offence misfired – and since then the defence has pitched two shutouts, which is some achievement even against lesser sides. Now they get one of the biggest tests in the NFL in trying to stop Mahomes.
The Chiefs have scored exactly the same amount of points (134) but they rank dead last in points allowed having conceded a whopping 125 and at least 29 in every game. That simply won’t cut the mustard even with Mahomes – a big improvement is needed.
How Do Allen And Mahomes Stack Up?
Nobody can rival Mahomes for the sheer brilliance and the electricity he can give an offence, which goes beyond the bare numbers and includes his under-arm TD throws, no-look passes and unbelievable play-making ability on the run.
Allen has the velocity in his arm to match Mahomes but perhaps not the finesse, he can fire in the fast ball but the curve ball isn’t quite as spectacular. He can throw it though, and has a talented team of receivers to make all the plays he needs.
Allen was right up there in the MVP conversation last season until a slump in form cost him the chance to challenge Aaron Rodgers for the big award. A big negative with Allen is that he’s not yet taken these big games by the scruff of the neck like Mahomes has – the AFC title game being an example.
But he has all the attributes, he threw for 4,544 yards and 37 TDs last season, and he’s a bit of a monster in the run game too as a big powerful rusher. He tallied 421 yards and eight TDs on the ground last season.
That’s a difference too, while Mahomes has wheels he’s more an elusive scrambler, while Allen will lower the shoulder and run over defenders to get into the end zone.
On their day they can do it all and that’s why they’re both 6/1 second favourites to lift the MVP award this year behind Kyler Murray – who can also do it all but it just doing more of it right now for the unbeaten Cardinals.
Allen v Mahomes Best Bets
Mahomes can become just the third player in NFL history to throw three TD passes in the first five games of a season with three more against Buffalo. The Bills have done well but haven’t faced an offence like this Chiefs team yet, and even if they can win the game they won’t be able to shut down Mahomes completely.
Allen over 2 passing TDs at 7/10
Allen has to prove he won’t freeze on the big stage, but if he doesn’t this is a wonderful opportunity to fill his boots against a dodgy Chiefs defence who just hasn’t been able to stop anyone all season. The TD passes will be there for Allen.
Buffalo haven’t been able to score TDs from the red zone as much as they’d like this season, but if they’re down in close then they’d be wise to spread the field and let Allen take it in himself. KC’s defence will have problems covering Buffalo’s receiving options and Allen’s such a bruising runner then a DB will have no chance keeping him out.
I always think Mahomes’ rushing yardage totals are on the low side, and this is another example as he had 36 yards rushing against Buffalo away last season when under a bit more pressure – as he is likely to be on Sunday so 17 yards should be a doddle.
Tight Ends Leading The Way
And with these two flinging TD tosses everywhere, somebody has to catch them and while Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs and the top dogs, tight ends Dawson Knox and Travis Kelce should be your first thought for TD scorers.
The Bills just couldn’t cope with Kelce last season as he scored two TDs in both games against them and he’s nailed on to catch another one here at 13/20.
His opposite number Knox has been doing a good Travis Kelce impression this season though with a team-best four TDs already – and he also scored against the Chiefs last season so 11/5 on another here is a great price.
Mahomes is obviously the better player, but Allen is on a better team right now and it would not surprise anyone if they marched into KC and grabbed the victory. The only problem is all their defensive excellence has come against pretty poor teams so far, this is a huge step up in class.
It should be so close though and 5/4 on the Bills straight up could be the value, but you write these Chiefs off, at home, at your peril so I’d probably take them –2.5 at 3/4 to somehow get the ‘W’ here.
I’d be more confident simply backing over 55.5 points at 4/5 though as this game says points to me.