NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
So, explain to me how contracts for head coaches in the NFL are guaranteed but those belonging to the guys who go out and risk their immediate and long-term health on the field are not? Well, I know why: the players' union in the NFL isn't nearly as strong as the ones in MLB or the NBA. But that's a story for another day.
I bring this up because I don't know what kind of money first-year Bills coach Sean McDermott makes (most coaching salaries in the NFL aren't public) but do know he has a five-year deal and control over personnel on the roster. It's a good thing McDermott does have job security, because he made one of the worst coaching decisions I can remember for Week 11. More on that shortly.
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Sunday afternoon's game between the Bills and Chiefs is important in the AFC race. Buffalo currently sits in the conference's seventh spot despite the same 5-5 record as the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore is currently the last wild-card team because of a 4-3 record vs. the conference compared to Buffalo's 3-3 mark. The Ravens and Bills don't play this year. The good news for Buffalo's remaining schedule is that a three-game homestand is next up and the team gets two games vs. the fading Dolphins and one against the Colts. The bad: two vs. the Patriots.
Kansas City's AFC West was arguably the NFL's best division last year but is in the argument for its worst in 2017 with the Chiefs (6-4) the only team with a winning record. So it would take a pretty big collapse to cough up the division. K.C.'s schedule is pretty friendly the rest of the way: at Jets, vs. Raiders, vs. Chargers and vs. Dolphins (three straight December home games vs. cold-weather teams is a huge break) and at Broncos.
Long story short: I expect the Chiefs to repeat in the division and the Bills to continue the NFL's longest playoff drought.
Bills at Chiefs Betting Story Lines
Unless you are a pretty die-hard NFL/Bills/University of Pittsburgh fan, you may have never heard of Nathan Peterman until last week. McDermott made the stunning decision to bench Tyrod Taylor despite good numbers for Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick out of Pitt. OK, start Peterman later in the year to see if he's the future. But in a playoff race on the road against a very good Chargers defense?
Uh, it didn't go well. Peterman was 6-for-14 for 66 yards and five interceptions in the first half against the Bolts, who led 37-7 at intermission - a team-record for first-half points. Peterman became the first player to throw five picks in the first half of a game since the merger and tied the Rams' Keith Null for most interceptions thrown by a player in his first start (2009). Mercifully, Peterman was pulled at the break for Taylor as the Bills were trashed 54-24 in their third straight loss. Maybe McDermott has an unbelievable ego, but he still says he has no regrets in making the move. Whatever dude. It should be noted that Taylor has the LOWEST CAREER INTERCEPTION RATE IN NFL HISTORY (min.1000 attempts) with 17 picks in 1,130 attempts.
Needless to say, Taylor will be back in there Sunday - he had to be or there might have been a mutiny in the locker room. Alas, Taylor likely won't have new No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin. In his second game with the Bills since coming over from Carolina, Benjamin injured his knee in the Bills' first offensive series and didn't return. Benjamin avoided major damage but is expected to miss a game or two.
The Chiefs looked like the NFL's best team at 5-0 but have dropped four of five since. You can understand losing to Pittsburgh, at Oakland or at Dallas. But Sunday's 12-9 overtime loss at the pathetic Giants is inexplicable. You can't call it a trap game considering the Chiefs were off their bye week; Coach Andy Reid had been 16-2 coming out of a bye. Alex Smith had easily his worst game of the year with a rating of 61.5, two picks and no TDs (first time this year with zero). Travis Kelce was also intercepted on a trick play.
It also appears Kareem Hunt has hit a rookie wall as he rushed for 73 yards against New York, his fifth game in a row with less than 100. Hunt topped the century mark in four of the first five games. The Saints' Alvin Kamara or Jaguars' Leonard Fournette could steal that NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award from Hunt if he doesn't get going again. Kansas City is just lucky that the Raiders and Broncos are vastly underachieving - I'd be most worried about those Chargers now in the division.
Bills at Chiefs Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Kansas City is an 11.5-point favorite (+115) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Chiefs are -485 and the Bills +385. On the alternate lines, K.C. is -11 (+108), -10.5 (+100), -10 (-110) and -9.5 (-120). Buffalo is 5-4-1 against the spread (2-3 on road) and 6-4 "over/under" (2-3 on road). Kansas City is 6-4 ATS (3-1 at home) and 6-4 O/U (3-1 at home).
The Bills are 0-4 ATS in their past four in November. The Chiefs are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game. They are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a loss. The over is 5-0 in Buffalo's past five. It's 4-1 in Kansas City's previous five after a loss. The Bills are 4-1 ATS in their past five at Arrowhead.
Bills at Chiefs Betting Prediction
Kansas City has won the past three in this series, most recently in Week 12 of the 2015 season, 30-22 at home. Smith threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor had 291 yards passing and three touchdowns.
I'm struggling a bit with this pick because I wonder if the Bills players still feel betrayed or if they will rally behind Taylor starting. Then again, I pretty much always take NFL underdogs getting more than 10 points as history shows the dogs cover more often than not in that scenario. Buffalo it is and the over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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