GAME PREDICTIONS

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NFL game predictions | Bills vs. Chiefs | Divisional Round

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Micah Hyde (23) interception touchdown. Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, October 10, 2021. Photo by Bill Wippert

This is a rematch from a game earlier this season that the Bills won on the Chiefs' home field. The Bills and Chiefs are both coming off impressive victories. Both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen lit up their opponents last week, but this is a big step up for both in terms of defenses. 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.

Pick: Bills 34, Chiefs 33

The Bills won big at Kansas City 38-20 in Week 5, but they won't really avenge their 38-24 AFC championship game loss there last year unless they win a round earlier this year. Buffalo is back to that level of relentless offensive play after Josh Allen fueled its flawless rout of New England in the wild-card game. At the same time for the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes also has his complete groove back after ripping the Steelers for one of his signature massive passing performances.

This game will come down to patience. Allen and Mahomes had to adjust midseason with their big plays taken away and their offenses also have obliged with more effective rushing attacks. It's all come full circle to open up the passing games with more diversity and less pressure on the QBs. The Bills have had the better defense all year, but the Chiefs have clutch experience with the advantage of home hostile environment.

This feels like it will come down to which elite young gun will get the ball on the final possession in regulation. It's a little easier to bet on Mahomes there as the one that's been there, done that more.

Pick: Chiefs win 30-27 and cover the spread.

Line: Kansas City -2.5 | Total: 55

No one should want to play the Bills, especially after they pitched a perfect offensive game against the Patriots in the wild-card round. After a short slump in the middle of the regular season, Buffalo appears to have caught fire — its offense has become more balanced and the defense, which finished the regular season with the fewest yards allowed and points scored, has created at least one turnover in four of its last five games.

Kansas City, as expected, easily dispatched the Steelers in the wild-card round, but only after failing to score in the first quarter. A lethargic start against the Bills could be too much to overcome.

Pick: Bills +2.5

Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were uneven for stretches during the regular season, but both settled into their best play as the postseason approached, as if this time of year, this game, is all that mattered. It just came a week earlier than expected.

It almost felt tooon the nose when Mahomes and Allen had dueling 40-burgers in wild-card wins over the AFC powers of olden times. Tyreek Hill is healthy. Jerick McKinnon could make Clyde Edwards-Helaire unnecessary behind a diverse offensive line that can win with slow drives if necessary.

I see Allen's legs and the Bills' defensive consistency as the biggest separators. Allen had early designed runs against Kansas City in Week 5 and was decisive in making the Chiefs pay for their man-to-man defense. Allen led the league in yards per carry, replacing Lamar Jackson as the NFL's most devastating runner at quarterback. Devin Singletary is playing the best ball of his pro career alongside Allen.

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.

Pick: Bills 34-31

What to watch for: The Bills did a great job of shutting down the big plays when they faced Patrick Mahomes in Week 5, limiting the Chiefs to one pass longer than 20 yards. Buffalo, meanwhile, connected on four passes of at least 30 yards, with two going for touchdowns. The Chiefs have to find a way to win -- or at least stay even with the Bills -- in this category, or they might experience another result like that 18-point beatdown. -- Adam Teicher

Bold prediction: Bills quarterback Josh Allen will rush for at least 50 yards and throw at least three touchdown passes on Sunday. The Bills' offense has rushed for 110-plus yards and averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry in six straight games, the second-longest streak in the NFL this year (Eagles). That streak has coincided with Allen being used more as a rusher, which will continue against the Chiefs. He had 59 yards on 11 carries in their meeting earlier this year. Additionally, the offensive line will keep him clean, extending its sackless streak to five games, and allow him to build on a five-pass-TD wild-card outing in a much closer divisional-round game. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Stat to know: Mahomes leads the NFL in play-action touchdowns, while Allen ranks second. Both quarterbacks have top-10 QBR numbers on play-action plays, as well. But the defensive side of things could be important: The Bills have allowed the league's lowest opponent QBR with play-action, while the Chiefs' defense has allowed the league's highest.

Betting nugget: Buffalo road games are 12-4-1 to the over in the past two seasons.

Getzenberg's pick: Bills 34, Chiefs 31

Teicher's pick: Chiefs 27, Bills 24

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