Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Matchups, prediction for battle between AFC juggernauts

The Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs could very well be the best game of the NFL regular season. These teams could combine for 80 points.

A Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills game in October sure does feel like an AFC Championship Game preview. I know the Chiefs are 2-2, and their defense has been, well, the worst in the NFL. But they still have Patrick Mahomes, and if anybody can take a bottom-five defense to a Super Bowl, it’s him. Conversely, the Bills lost to a terrible (towel) team in Week 1 but have since thoroughly dominated their next three opponents.

Kansas City Chiefs offense vs. Buffalo Bills defense

This is a battle of the beasts. The Chiefs currently boast the league’s top offense, and by quite a margin. They’re first in both DVOA and EPA/play, and they’re second in success rate, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys.

Buffalo’s defense has possibly been even more impressive than Kansas City’s offense. Currently, their weighted DVOA sits at -49.4%. If the Bills keep up that performance through 17 games, their defense would rank as the best in the history of the DVOA database, which dates back to 1983. It would nearly DOUBLE the mark of a vaunted defense like the 2013 Seahawks (-27.9%).

However, defensive performance is often a product of the opposing team’s offense, and more importantly, the opposing quarterback — and Buffalo hasn’t faced many impressive offenses. I wouldn’t expect the Bills to post their third shutout of the season in Week 5.

Patrick Mahomes vs. Bills defense

As time passes, I’m more and more convinced that Patrick Mahomes is actually from a different planet. It’s difficult to watch any quarterback after watching Mahomes because no one can do half the things he can as a playmaker. The thing is, I’m not sure if Mahomes gets enough credit for his ability to play on schedule as a more traditional pocket passer.

The Bills have a top-3 NFL cornerback in Tre’Davious White, and their safety tandem is arguably the best in football. Additionally, their defensive line — particularly their pass rush — has drastically improved thanks to a slimmed-down A.J. Epenesa and rookie Gregory Rousseau. Meanwhile, Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds form an outstanding linebacking duo.

But they aren’t Patty.

Advantage: Chiefs

Chiefs weapons vs. Bills defensive backs

Pound for pound, I like the Bills’ defensive backs over the Chiefs’ weapons. Mahomes is the engine that makes Kansas City’s weapons go. I say this while acknowledging that Tyreek Hill is the best receiver in the NFL and Travis Kelce is the leagues’ best tight end. But they are undoubtedly elevated by the play of their quarterback.

On the opposite side, Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde, White, Milano, and Edmunds are all performing at a high level for the Bills. So, even though I believe the Chiefs’ offense will move the ball on a hat-on-hat basis, I think the Bills have more talent.

Advantage: Bills

Chiefs offensive line vs. Bills front seven

As good as the Bills’ front seven has been so far in 2021, the Chiefs’ revamped offensive line has been just as impressive. Creed Humphrey hasn’t simply been one of the best rookies in the league — he’s been one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. Of all the heavyweight matchups in this game, this is the one I’m most excited about.

If the Bills are going to make Mahomes uncomfortable, it’ll come off the edges. Orlando Brown Jr. and Lucas Niang haven’t been bad, but if there were any sort of weakness on Kansas City’s OL, it would be against good edge defenders.

I can’t wait to watch two of my favorites from the 2020 NFL draft — Epenesa and Niang — go at it on Sunday Night Football. That is if Epenesa is healthy enough to go in Week 5.

Advantage: Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs defense vs. Buffalo Bills offense

This one doesn’t need much text. Buffalo’s offense hasn’t looked as good as we expected so far in 2021, but they dominated the once-heralded Washington Football Team defense. There aren’t usually big discrepancies between DVOA rankings and EPA rankings, but the Bills’ offense is 9th in EPA/play and just 17th in DVOA.

The Chiefs’ defense is atrocious. I know it’s been bad for a while now, but this is so much different. They’re the worst in the league nearly any way you look at it. They can’t stop the run to save their lives, and you have to dig deep to find teams worse defending the pass.

Josh Allen vs. Chiefs defense

If I was allowed, I’d simply “LOL” this category and walk away. However, I need to break down the reasons why Allen has the advantage against the Chiefs’ defense. Allen is good and athletic, and Kansas City’s defense is really bad everywhere. I’ll explain more in the next few categories.

Advantage: Bills

Bills weapons vs. Chiefs defensive backs

Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders, Gabriel Davis, and Dawson Knox against Tyrann Mathieu. I know Honey Badger doesn’t give a rip, but even one of the fiercest animals in the kingdom can’t survive that gauntlet.

I can’t see a world where the Chiefs get consistent defensive stops against Buffalo, and those pass catchers are a big reason why.

Advantage: Bills

Bills offensive line vs. Chiefs front seven

The Bills’ offensive line certainly isn’t made up of world-beaters, but the Chiefs’ front seven isn’t anything to write home about either. However, if Kansas City wants to win this game, they must be able to pressure and contain Allen to the pocket — which is a tall ask given his frame and athleticism.

The Bills have been good as a run-blocking team so far in 2021, which spells doom for the Chiefs. Kansas City has far and away the worst run defense in the league, doubling the inefficiency of the next-closest team.

Advantage: Bills

Betting line and game prediction

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently 3-point favorites against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. With the Chiefs being 2-2, the Arrowhead crowd should be as rowdy as they’ve been in recent years.

I chose the Bills as my preseason Super Bowl participant from the AFC, but I can’t see the Chiefs actually holding a losing record five games into an NFL season with Mahomes under center. Even if Kansas City’s defense ends up being historically bad, Mahomes can wash away the sins of a franchise.

Every fiber of my being says the Bills should win, but my gut is calling a shootout victory for the Chiefs, with Mahomes appearing in my Player of the Week piece come Monday.

Prediction: Chiefs 38, Bills 35

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