The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are back for their third straight AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City is the betting favorite to repeat at FanDuel Sportsbook with +205 odds.
Before we decide whether the Chiefs are worth the investment, let’s take a look at the pros and cons to KC:
How did we get here
The Chiefs were the preseason favorites at FanDuel, priced at +600 to repeat as Super Bowl champs. KC did nothing to shrink their odds, going 14-2 en route to the No. 1 seed in the AFC, hosting their third straight title game.
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*IF* Mahomes is healthy, Chiefs are a go
Mahomes was limping in the first half of the Chiefs’ Divisional round victory over the Browns before his scary head/neck injury in the second half that knocked him out of the game. The line for the AFC championship game hints that Mahomes is likely to play with it sitting at -3 at FanDuel, which is imperative for the Chiefs to have a chance at repeating as champions.
This is a Buffalo defense who has been put in perilous situations all postseason. Teams have been able to drive into Buffalo territory, but struggled to score due to poor execution. The Ravens had five drives inside the Buffalo 30 last weekend and the Bills scored seven points on a 101-yard pick six to Baltimore’s three on those drives.
Against Mahomes and the Chiefs, don't expect Buffalo to get off as easy. The Bills benefited from the second best turnover rate in the league this season, but Kansas City was tied for the fourth fewest giveaways this season.
While there is always talk of the explosive Kansas City offense, the defense has gotten stops when called on to secure wins, including in the fourth quarter last week with Mahomes out of the game. The Chiefs’ D doesn’t have flashy metrics as a unit, but they have championship playmakers such as pass rusher Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Kansas City is 28th in the league in opponent rushing success, but in the AFC championship, the Bills likely won’t take advantage of this. Buffalo is tied for 19th in the league in yards per carry and will be without rookie running back Zack Moss.
What can stop the Chiefs from two in a row?
Let’s start with where we finished above. The Chiefs have playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but teams have been able to run all over them this season. While it may not play a role in the game this Sunday, the two NFC teams are much more capable on the ground and can expose the KC front seven.
Of course, past that, if Mahomes can not clear concussion protocol, the Chiefs are in serious trouble. You can read our Vik Chokshi on the Kansas City QB’s value to the point spread, but if it is Chad Henne under center, the Bills would be favored. Which means this price would be way too low to bet the Chiefs to win it all.
Bet or no bet?
If Mahomes is announced good to go, the Chiefs are worth a bet at +205. It’s a short price, but this would likely be an advantageous bet as opposed to parlaying the KC moneyline twice, where they are sure to be favored over either opponent.
While the Chiefs have not been as dominant as the Packers down the stretch run of the season, a healthy Mahomes is still the most dangerous weapon in the league. I expect Kansas City to dictate the terms of both the AFC championship game and Super Bowl LV.