BUFFALO AT KANSAS CITY
TV: CBS, 6:40 p.m.
Kansas City by 3; O/U: 54
When you make Super Bowl predictions before the playoffs start, and then select each playoff game against the spread each week after that, you’re often met with a decision: Do I stick with my original pick or did something change my mind? While backing Kansas City is usually the safe play, I’m staying with my "Bills are going to win the Super Bowl" not-as-hot-as-it-used-to-be take.
The biggest storyline surrounding this game is obviously the health of Patrick Mahomes. He's practicing, and you’d have to think he will play. We all know about Kansas City’s fast-strike offense, and how you could never count them out (see last year’s title run, when the champs overcame deficits of 24-0 in the divisional round, 17-7 in the AFC title game and 20-10 in the Super Bowl).
But Buffalo, with Josh Allen making a major leap this season and a true No. 1 WR in Stefon Diggs, can continually keep the pressure on. Since a 26-17 loss to Kansas City in Week 6, Buffalo has won 11 of 12 games, the lone loss on the last-second "Hail Murray" pass in Arizona. This team is hot. The fact that Buffalo, the 2 seed, had to play a first-round game this year instead of having a bye is a huge factor to me. A sweat-it-out 27-24 win over the Colts, then last week’s surprisingly low-scoring 17-3 win over Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, had to have helped the Bills get ready for the biggest game of most of their lives.
Yes, Kansas City ran all over Buffalo in the first meeting (245 yards on 46 carries), but I trust Sean McDermott — one of the most underrated coaches in the game — to correct those issues. Kansas City is a super team, but the champs are not unbeatable. Buffalo should follow Las Vegas’ blueprint on how to beat KC. The only question is: Can Buffalo finish the job if it has an early lead? I think it can. Break out the tables, Bills fans! Next stop: Tampa Bay.
The pick: Buffalo
The score: Buffalo 37, Kansas City 34