Buffalo Bills (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Week 1 NFL, Sunday, September 11, 2011, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo., TV: CBS
by Badger, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buf +6.5/KC -6.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5
The Kansas City Chiefs pulled off a surprising 10-6 season that included an AFC West Division title and an AFC playoff birth in 2010, so what will they do for an encore in 2011? Well get our first look on Sunday, September 11th, when they host the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium in week one NFL action.
If the Chiefs are going to make as big a splash this year theyll have to do it with largely the same roster and lineup, because despite a few minor additions on offense (WR Steve Breaston, FB LeRon McClain) the boys in K.C. stood pat with one of the younger teams in all of the league. Whether or not that is enough help to get the Chiefs to their next step, an AFC playoff win, is a question that well get the first answer to come Sunday in Arrowhead.
Buffalo played much better than their 4-12 record indicated in 2010, but they to will have to make marked improvement in 2011 with largely the same cast of characters. The Bills did add QB/RB/WR/returner Brad Smith from the Jets to add versatility to their offense, and a solid middle linebacker in Nick Barnett on defense, but since the Bills are in one of the toughest divisions in football, the AFC East, their offseason moves (or lack of) has a lot of longtime Bills fans wondering how much better they can be in the new year.
The oddsmakers out in Las Vegas originally opened this week one contest with the Chiefs as rather large 6.5-point favorites at home. But maybe the number is sharper than it appears, because after a few weeks on the board at most of the sportsbooks it has not moved at all in either direction. Whether thats an indication of how strong the point spread is, or the fact that the public has yet to really go to the window enough to move the line on this game is the big question.
The over/under total has seen its share of movement though, opening up at 42 a few weeks back before that early steam at the betting window caused it to drop like a rock all the way down to 40.5, where the total is currently listed at most offshore sportsbooks.
The main reason for the near two-point drop in the total has been both teams inability to score in the preseason.
Buffalo looked really good in a, 35-32, victory over Jacksonville in the third preseason game of the season rolling up over 400 yards of total offense, but that is the lone exception for the Bills. Against the other three teams with quality defenses (Chicago, Denver, Detroit) the Bills scored a combined total of 19 points and struggled in do so.
The Bills struggled with issues along their offensive line last year, which caused quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a very up and down season. Buffalo will also need to get more production out of running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller if they hope to turn the corner in 2011 and get out of the cellar in the AFC East.
Kansas City has also struggled on offense in the preseason, so much so that head coach Todd Haley actually played his starters deep into the fourth quarter of their final preseason game, which for most teams is a no-no and just begging for one of the top-line starters to get hurt. QB Matt Cassel actually took a sack and hurt his shoulder before he was removed in the game against Green Bay, and hes listed as day-to-day on the injury report, but hes likely to play in the opener.
The Chiefs offense is powered by their running game, a running game that racked up 274 yards rushing when these two teams met last season in late October. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will have McClain lead-blocking for them this season, and with Breaston in the fold to try and take away the double-coverage of Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs offense could be more potent this season even though they have yet to really show it in the preseason.
Defensively the Chiefs are younger and stronger with players like safety Eric Berry, LB Tamba Hali and linemen Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson just coming into the prime of their careers.
The Bills on the other hand will be relying upon older veterans like Barnett and Shawn Merriman to resurrect their careers and shake of the injury issues that has haunted them in past years.
Last year the Chiefs beat the Bills, 13-10, in overtime in a game that was far from a great exhibition of football. While both teams racked up impressive yardage (Buffalo 328 yds.; KC 414 yds.), they had a hard time finding the end zone. Both teams also had three possessions in overtime, missed attempted winning field goals and struggled to stop the other team on offense before K.C. won it on a Ryan Succop 35-yard field goal with just over a minute to play before it became a tie.
Most of the betting trends for this game are jumbled and directionless, but there are a few worth noting.
Buffalo would appear to have an advantage as far as trends go since they are 4-1 ATS the past two seasons as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points. They are also built for grass fields (7-4 ATS) and strong against the AFC West (2-0 ATS) the past few seasons.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Its been hard to figure out these two teams, as both have struggled thus far without the extra OTAs and training sessions they both missed during the lockout. I do think the Chiefs are an all-around better team (offense, defense, coaching), but as we all know that doesnt translate into wins and losses always. Plus, my gut is telling me that Buffalo can hang around in this game due to both teams run-first mentality on offense, so Im leaning toward the Bills to keep it close and cover the number here. Take Buffalo plus the 6.5 points.
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