A battle of the previously undefeated teams kicks off the Monday Night Football doubleheader this week as 2018 NFL MVP and 2019 Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes faces off with early 2020 NFL MVP candidate Josh Allen in a battle of top AFC teams this week. Both teams are coming off losses where their defenses allowed 40+ points to their opponents. Which team will get back to their winning ways? Can the Buffalo Bills prove to the NFL audience that they are a legit contender to the Chiefs’ AFC crown? Will either defense be able to stop the two gunslingers in the passing game? With this Monday Night Football Preview, we will dive into the stats and analytics to see how both teams match up against each other.
– Monday Night Football Preview–
Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) at Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Spread: Chiefs -5 | Over/Under 57
The Chiefs Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champs are five-point favorites over the Buffalo Bills according to 888sport online sport betting. The Chiefs are 12-4 ATS in their last 14 games. However, they are only 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs are 11-1 straight up against AFC opponents in their last 12 games and are 8-1 straight up in their last 9 games on the road. The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Chief’s last 6 games. The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Chief’s last 5 games playing on the road against the Bills.
The total of the Buffalo Bills’ last five games has gone OVER in all five games, but the total has gone UNDER in 11 of the Bills’ last 15 games against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games played against the AFC West division. The Bills are 1-7 straight up in their last 8 games played on a Monday.
Entering week 6, only two other teams have allowed more completed passes (128) and more touchdowns (10) than the Buffalo Bills. The Bills defense has given 1370 passing yards in five games, placing them in the top quarter of the league in passing yards allowed. The advanced stats support the idea that the Bills pass defense is bad. Their pass defense DVOA is No. 24 in the league. In the last three weeks, Patrick Mahomes has passed for just under 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns (1 interception). He did this by averaging at least 7.9 yards per pass attempt too. His most notable performance was throwing for 385 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens, the No. 7 pass defense DVOA on the season. Mahomes is on fire right now and the Bills aren’t equipped to stop or even contain a passing offense lead by the 2018 NFL MVP.
The Chiefs pass defense looked silly last week going against Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders. However, that defensive performance was the exception, not the norm. This same defense held the defending NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to 180 total yards and 1 touchdown and Deshaun Watson needed one late rushing touchdown to finish with a low-end QB1 week. Josh Allen, though he has improved as a passer this season, is still a turnover machine. His yards per attempt has also dropped in four consecutive weeks and he finds himself facing the No. 2 pass defense DVOA. A bad performance this week against the Chiefs is a testament more of the Chiefs pass defense than it would be of Josh Allen’s quarterback ability. Allen is a good dual-threat quarterback capable of producing top-5 fantasy performances each week, but for this week I expect Josh Allen to finish as a low-end QB1.
This past week, the Chiefs added Le’Veon Bell to their loaded offense much to the dismay of fantasy managers that drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of their fantasy football drafts. Have no fear, CEH owners, Bell won’t play in this game. The Chiefs’ offensive line may prove to be problematic though. The Chiefs 4.21 adjusted line yards is No. 17 in the NFL and includes a power success of 29-percent (No. 32). Not only do the Bills have the advantage in the trenches against the Chiefs, but the Bills also are a top-10 defense in pass success rates and yards per pass attempt to the running back position. The Bills defense allows a 20-percent target rate to running backs, which matches the NFL average. At best, CEH is looking at a high-end RB2 week in this matchup but is more likely a mid-RB2.
The Chiefs have struggled to stop the run lately and have allowed 140+ rushing yards in each of their past two games. The Bills offensive line though has graded poorly on the season. The Bills have managed just 3.93 adjusted line yards (No. 25) and have had 20-percent of their runs stuffed on the season (No. 26). The Chiefs though have managed to top these horrible offensive line rankings. Their defensive line has allowed 4.86 adjusted line yards (No. 25) and managed a league-worst 9-percent stuffed run rate. Devin Singletary and the Bills have played three bottom-10 defensive lines in adjusted line yards and Singletary has failed to top 71 rushing yards. Singletary will have to find success in the passing game to finish in the top-20 as he did in weeks 3 and 4. Lucky for Singletary, the matchup against the Chiefs provides just that. Four NFL defenses have allowed a 30-percent or higher target rate to running backs. One of those teams was the Las Vegas Raiders, the week 4 opponent of the Bills and another one of those teams is the Kansas City Chiefs. Look for Singletary to have at least five targets in this game. Zack Moss is back and should take carries away from Singletary, but watch him play in this game before comfortably starting him in fantasy football again.
Tyreek Hill has PFF’s third-most advantageous WR/CB matchup this week. Hill (57-percent of snaps lined up in the slot) is projected to face Buffalo Bills CB Taron Johnson primarily. The top corner for the Bills, Tre’Davious White does not slide into the slot, which positively affects Hill’s fantasy ceiling this week. Hill’s primary coverage, Johnson, has allowed the ninth-highest yards per route covered (1.91 yards) and is credited with allowing 17+ fantasy points in three of his five games played. Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman are expected to line up on the outside in the game against Josh Norman and White. Hill is the only Chiefs receiver worth starting this week. Robinson is far from a safe target to receive a fantasy-relevant role in games. His 13.4-percent target rate (145th percentile) and 9.1-percent hog rate (95th percentile). Hardman is also a wide receiver to avoid with his matchup with one of the top cornerbacks in the game, Tre’Davious White.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense excels at preventing passes to wide receivers over the past three weeks (47-percent, NFL average: 58-percent). The Chiefs defense also allows the third-lowest success rate to opposing wide receivers (47-percent). Despite the excellent coverage preventing opposing wide receivers to make many plays against the Chiefs, the Chiefs do allow 9.2 yards per pass attempt to the wide receiver position (No. 20). This tells me that Cole Beasley in the slot is NOT the matchup to target this week. The return of cornerback Bashaud Breeland is detrimental to John Brown’s fantasy outlook in Week 6. John Brown lines up on the left side of the field 52-percent of the time, while Breeland lines up on the same side of the field 96-percent. On the season, Breeland has allowed only a 9-percent target rate field and 0.09 yards per route run (No. 1 according to PFF). Look for Stefon Diggs to pick up the slack in this passing game. Only 13 wide receivers have a higher PFF grade on the season than Diggs. Of those wide receivers, only six receivers have more yards per route run (2.64). Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward will have his hands full trying to contain Diggs.
Travis Kelce is going to feast in this game. The Kansas City Chiefs have been in the top quarter of the league in target rate to the tight end position over the past three weeks (26-percent). The 9.3 average yards per pass attempt to the tight end position is No. 7 over that time period. On the other side of the matchup, the Buffalo Bills defense has allowed a 26-percent target rate to the tight end position (NFL average: 20-percent) over the past three weeks. Tight ends have been problematic for the Bills defense. They have allowed the fourth-highest success rate (74-percent) and yards per pass attempt to tight ends (9.9). Tight end performances against the Bills defense over the past three weeks include Tyler Higbee/Gerald Everett combining for 4 catches for 74 yards (4 targets), Darren Waller recording 9 receptions for 88 yards (11 targets), and Jonnu Smith converting 7 targets into 5 receptions for 40 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Buffalo Bills tight end position has not been fantasy-relevant this season. Dawson Knox leads the team with 12 targets converted into 6 catches for 93 yards. Tyler Kroft has 5 receptions for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns. Over the last three weeks, the Bills have been above the NFL average in success rates throwing to the tight end position (58-percent, No. 13). However, during that same time period, the Bills have been below the 20-percent NFL average in target rate to tight ends and their 4.4 yards per pass attempt ranks sixth-worst in the NFL. A matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs is not a great tight end matchup either. The Chiefs allow the fourth-lowest success rate on passes to the tight end position (43-percent) and third-lowest yards per pass attempt to tight ends (3.9). The impressive Chiefs defense held Mark Andrews to 3 receptions (on 8 targets) for 22 yards during this time period.
The general rule of thumb is to not start defenses against Patrick Mahomes and I have no reason to go against this rule this week. The Bills are an average NFL defense at best and their lack of turnovers (6) and sacks (10) doesn’t invoke confidence in starting them here in this game. The Chiefs defense is healthy and coming off of an embarrassing 40-points allowed performance. The Chiefs are also pretty good at generating turnovers (8) and it’s feasible to see them force a couple of Josh Allen turnovers with the Bills playing from behind. Allen has had multiple turnovers in three of his five games this season.
This is a deceptive game. Football doesn’t have to be hard; the Chiefs are one of the best teams in turnover margin (+5) while the Bills are (-2). Both teams are 4-1, but I’m not buying the Bills being anywhere near the level of a team that the Chiefs are. The Chiefs lost their only game because a team had to outscore their 32 points. The Bills lost to a team by a 26-point margin. The Chiefs defense contained the league’s best rushing quarterback just three weeks ago. Josh Allen will present the same obstacle for them to overcome. I’m confident in the spread hitting, but I can’t go with 57 points for the spread so give me the under. Chiefs 34-21.