The Chiefs’ AFC Divisional Playoff game Sunday sets up to be a barn-burner.
Both teams finished in the top four in the NFL in scoring and are in good form, having blown out their opponents in the wild-card round. The Chiefs doubled up Pittsburgh 42-21 and the Buffalo Bills crushed the New England Patriots 47-17.
NFL pundits are nearly split on who will win.
Here is what 66 national experts are saying about the game, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on KCTV (Ch. 5).
A 34-28 Chiefs win is the prediction from Bill Bender of the Sporting News. Here is an excerpt of his story: “Can Buffalo protect the football again? The Bills didn’t have a turnover in the first meeting, and if (Josh) Allen can do that again with the weapons around him Buffalo will have a chance to get a AFC championship game at home. We could see that happening, but we just can’t go against the Chiefs at home, especially with a defense that has improved since the first meeting.”
The Chiefs will win, says ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith. He predicted a 31-28 score and wrote in part: “I trust Patrick Mahomes a little bit more than Josh Allen to play that well again in the divisional round, so I’ll pick the Chiefs.” Mike Florio picks the Bills to win 41-28. He wrote: “Crazy as it sounds, Kansas City should consider slowing things down and limiting possessions in order to avoid letting the Bills fast-break their way to 40 points.”
A 34-31 Bills victory is the prediction from Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. Here is a snippet from the story: “I see Allen’s legs and the Bills’ defensive consistency as the biggest separators. ... The Bills’ combination of offensive diversity and the reliability of a veteran pass defense whose safeties rarely get beat deep gives them the slimmest of margins here. No matter who comes out on top, I favor the winner of this game to win the Super Bowl. I happen to think it will be a Bills team whose time has come.”
A 41-34 Chiefs victory is the prediction from Yardbarker’s Chris Mueller. Here is a portion of his story: “Kansas City got to sharpen themselves up against the Steelers, and in that way, the game served as a way for the Chiefs to knock off some rust, get out whatever playoff jitters may have been present, and then get themselves into a rhythm. Everyone knows what Kansas City is capable of; Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill have always been lethal when paired with Patrick Mahomes, and now Byron Pringle looks like a real threat, and Jerick McKinnon provided a major backfield spark. The Chiefs are looking like they’ll be close to fully healthy for this game, which means it really might just be a fireworks-filled shootout, where two of the league’s most gifted quarterbacks trade scores and see who’s left standing at the end.”
Five of the eight writers for CBS Sports predicted a Buffalo victory: Pete Prisco, Will Brinson, Jared Dubin, John Breech and Dave Richard. Going with the Chiefs: Jason LaCanfora, Ryan Wilson and Jamey Eisenberg. Prisco has Buffalo edging KC 34-33. Here is an excerpt: “The Bills have the top-ranked defense in the league and built their pass rush in the offseason to beat Mahomes. The Chiefs defense isn’t as good, but it played much better over the course of the second half of the season. The Chiefs love to blitz, which will leave Allen free to run and make throws on the run. I think that will be the difference here. The Bills behind Allen will win a fun shootout for the ages.”
Five of the six Athletic writers see the Chiefs winning: Tashan Reed, Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mark Kaboly, Chris Burke and Katherine Terrell. The pick for Buffalo: Nick Kosmider. This is part of the Athletic’s story by Nick Pekale: “Kansas City has scored at least 28 points in each of its last six games. Buffalo owns the top-ranked passing and scoring defenses, but stopping Mahomes is far easier said than done. The Bills gave up nearly 400 yards in the first meeting, but generated four takeaways. It’d be unwise to believe Kansas City coughs up the ball four times again, especially during a home playoff game.”
A 30-27 Bills win is the forecast from Ben Rolfe of Pro Football Network.This is part of what he wrote: “Buffalo has the players on both sides of the ball to frustrate the Chiefs. We saw how capable the Bills are of moving the ball through the air and on the ground. Additionally, their defense squeezed the Patriots in a humiliating victory. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ defense looked less convincing against the Steelers. Buffalo has built a team that is more than capable of going into Arrowhead and coming away with a victory.”
Six of the 11 pundits at ESPN see a Bills win: Emmanuel Acho, Jeremy Fowler, Dan Graziano, Damien Woody, Rob Ninkovich and Kevin Seifert. Picking the Chiefs are Mike Clay, Seth Wickersham, Matt Bowen, Domonique Foxworth and Laura Rutledge.
Five of seven writers at USA Today think the Chiefs will win: Jarrett Bell (31-27 final score), Jori Epstein (31-30), Mike Freeman (24-19), Mike Jones (35-32) and Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz (30-24). Going with the Bills are Nate Davis (31-30) and Lorenzo Reyes (29-27).
Two of three Kansas City Star reporters picked the Bills: Herbie Teope (31-28) and Sam McDowell (27-24). Picking the Chiefs: Vahe Gregorian (31-27).
Five of the 10 members of the Dallas Morning News see the Chiefs winning: Tim Cowlishaw, Craig Miller, Calvin Watkins, Damon Marx and David Moore. Those choosing the Bills are Dana Larson, Newy Scruggs, Michael Gehlken, Kevin Sherrington and Jean-Jacques Taylor.
Two of four Denver Post writers went with the Chiefs: Ryan McFadden and Jonas Shaffer. The picks for Buffalo: Mike Preston and Larry Walker.
A Chiefs win is the prediction from three of four Athlon Sports writers: Bryan Fischer, Ben Weinrib and Rob Doster. Picking the Bills: Aaron Wilson
A Chiefs victory is the prediction from three of five Audacy writers: Jordan Cohn, Jesse Pantuosco and Tim Kelly. Going with Buffalo are John Healy and Dan Mennella.
A Bills win is the call from the two Sky Sports reporters: Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reibold.