AFC Championship Game Betting Preview: Can the Chiefs beat the Bills without Mahomes?

Normally, when the NFL’s best offense meets the second-best offense in a Championship game, fans can expect an offensive shootout.

However, that may not be the case after the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes left the game against the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter due to a concussion. The Chiefs ended up holding on for the 22-17 win after backup quarterback Chad Henne took over, so it is worth monitoring if he gets the start in what would be the biggest game of his career.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills cruised to a 17-3 win against the Baltimore Ravens in their divisional game. Even though the Bills are known for their high-powered offense, but it was their defense that beat the Ravens as they recorded five sacks, one forced fumble, and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

With the possibility of Mahomes being out of the lineup against the Buffalo Bills, bettors are unsure of what to expect.

Below are the betting odds for the game, according to Bovada:

  • Point spread: Bills +3 (-110), Chiefs -3 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Bills +135, Chiefs (-155)
  • Over/Under: Over 54 (-110), Under 54 (-110)

The game is on Sunday, January 24 at 6:40 pm ET at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

See Bovada for updated lines and odds.

Buffalo Bills Betting News

The Bills will roll into Kansas City with the NFL’s third-highest scoring offense, averaging 30.3 points per game. A lot of Buffalo’s high-scoring games this season can be thanks to the immediate chemistry that Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs found.

Allen threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns on the season, while Diggs led the league in receiving yards with 1,535 and also catching eight touchdown passes. Diggs is also leading the postseason in receiving yards with 234 and shows no signs of letting down.

Despite being known for offense, if the Bills’ defense shows up again as it did against the Ravens (especially if Henne starts), they may just make it to the Super Bowl. Over their last three games, the Bills have been allowing opponents to score an average of 17.7 points per game, which is the fourth-fewest in that timeframe. The Bills already have one of the best cornerbacks in the league with Tre’Davious White, and Taron Johnson was the corner who had a 101-yard Pick-6 against the Ravens, so if they can live up to their potential and shut down the Chiefs’ receivers, the Bills have to like their chances.

Kansas City Chiefs Betting News

The biggest question mark coming into the AFC Championship game, to no one’s surprise, is whether or not Patrick Mahomes will be cleared from concussion protocol. If not, Chad Henne will start.

After coming in for Mahomes in the third quarter of the Divisional game, Henne completed 6-of-8 passes for 66 yards and an interception. While he didn’t look bad, the 35-year-old backup is going to have to play a lot better to keep up with the Bills’ offense. Thankfully for Henne, he has weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, who both had 100+yard games against the Browns.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland also left the game with a concussion, meaning that the Chiefs’ defense may take a hit if he’s unable to play on Sunday.

Over their last three games, the Chiefs are the 12th-best team when it comes to points allowed per game, allowing just 23 points against per game in that timeframe. If Breeland is ruled out and Henne is the starting quarterback, the rest of the Chiefs’ defense may be called upon to be on the field more often than not and if that’s the case, they’ll be expected to step up early and often all game.

Other Betting Information

The AFC Championship Game marks the second time this season that the Bills and Chiefs will meet.

The teams met back in Week 6, where the Chiefs ended up winning 26-17. The big difference there was that Mahomes did play in that game and threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs also held Allen to only 122 yards in the air, which is something they’ll have to replicate this Sunday.

However, even with Mahomes in the lineup, the Chiefs have been scoring an average of 20 points per game over their last three games, which is tied for eighth-worst in that timeframe. However, one of those games is the Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers where the Chiefs rested their stars and Henne made the start, putting up 218 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills are allowing 294.3 passing yards per game over their last three games, so the opportunities for Henne (or Mahomes) should be there.

While that game doesn’t prove whether or not Henne is capable of a similar or better performance in the AFC Championship Game, it does show that he is far from the worst quarterback option in the NFL.

Devon Platana
Devon Platana

After graduating with a Masters degree in Journalism, Devon joined USGS to improve his sports writing skills. As a lifelong sports fan, one of Devon’s favorite things to do is analyze statistics across all sports.