This Sunday, Kansas City’s early-season slew of AFC contenders continues as the 3-1 Buffalo Bills visit Arrowhead in primetime. The Bills have dominated their opponents since their Week 1 slip against the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning three straight. Most NFL pundits seem to be split down the middle when picking between the Bills and Chiefs, and the Vegas Sportsbooks agree.
As of Thursday, Caesars Sportsbook has the Chiefs as -2.5 point favorites. Most books will automatically give the home team a two or three-point head start to account for home-field advantage, meaning the oddsmakers are calling Sunday night’s showdown a pick ’em. While the spread isn’t much of a shock, just a few lines further down, and you might discover the over/under to be a little surprising, currently sitting at 56.5, the largest point total among all games this weekend.
That prognostication might seem preposterous at first glance. Sure, everyone knows the Chiefs’ defense has been horrifically bad this season, and the Bills’ offense will surely exploit that unit with the likes of quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. But the Bills’ defense is off to a ridiculous start this year.
Through four weeks, the stats are pretty eye-popping for Buffalo’s defense: first in points allowed, first in passing yards allowed, fourth in rushing yards, first in red zone defense, and first in forced turnovers. They have smothered opposing offenses from the start. Sure, the Chiefs will be countering with the No. 1 offense in the NFL. But why do the experts predict such a high-scoring affair?
Probably because they looked at Buffalo’s early-season schedule and audibly laughed at their luck in opponents so far, just like Ben Baldwin of the Athletic did this week. It’s more than just the strength of schedule, but also the string of quarterback ineptitude they have faced this year. Let’s quickly recap, if only to unearth the humor in it all.
Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers
While Buffalo was indeed upset by the Steelers, it was their offense that let them down. The defense held Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns. However, facing Ben Roethlisberger is not what it used to be. Their offense has regressed considerably the past couple of seasons due to the aging, often-injured quarterback. The only shocking result from this matchup was the struggling Bills offense, leaving just enough room for Pittsburgh to claw out the win.
Week 2: Miami Dolphins
Here is where the comedy ensues. Miami’s offense was still a work in progress going into Week 2 because of the development of second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. To make matters worse, Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game early with a rib injury, lasting just nine snaps. Long-time backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett never got rolling, posting a donut on offense and losing 35-0.
Week 3: Washington Football Team
Wait, the Bills got to face another backup quarterback, this time for the entire game? Yep, with Washington Football Team’s starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured. Backup Taylor Heinicke filled in and led Washington’s offense to just 21 points and three turnovers as Buffalo rolled 43-21 for another slam-dunk win. Consecutive weeks facing backup quarterbacks? It can’t get any luckier than that! Surely this run of luck will run out, right?
Week 4: Houston Texans
Enter: Davis Mills. Yes, the rookie quarterback from Stanford was making his second start in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor. However, Mills wasn’t even considered the backup quarterback entering this season — that role belonged to Taylor. It’s easy to forget that superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson remains on Houston’s roster. However, he has been inactive as legal issues continue to plague his future.
The results were predictable. Mills tossed four interceptions and only produced 87 passing yards as the Bills recorded their second shutout of the season, easing to a 40-0 victory.
The run of luck Buffalo has found itself on is truly remarkable. Facing an aging statue in Roethlisberger, followed by three straight weeks of backup quarterbacks, speaks more to their gaudy defensive statistics than the strength of the defense itself. There aren’t 32 quality starting quarterbacks in the NFL every year, but the fact they haven’t faced even a single average one proves baffling.
That run surely will end on Sunday with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes commanding the huddle for the Chiefs. Just nine months ago, these AFC contenders competed for a spot in the Super Bowl in Arrowhead, and Mahomes surgically exploited Buffalo’s defense en route to a 38-24 victory and their claim of the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
The 2021 Bills defense largely remains the same from last year. There is little doubt that Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense can replicate their results from less than a year ago. Both teams should have no problem scoring points. The oddsmakers are confident both offenses will have their day on the field on Sunday. 56.5? Hammer the over.