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Bills vs. Chiefs Week 6 playoff implications are significant

The odds for the No. 1 seed in the AFC could be dramatically altered by the outcome of this game

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear about one thing up front: in most cases, talking about playoff implications in an NFL Week 6 game is premature at best, and folly at worst. Particularly when a specific game features two teams that, barring the catastrophic, have incredibly high odds of making the playoffs.

The Buffalo Bills’ matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs this coming Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium may fall outside of that overwhelming majority, if only by a little. Its largest significance lies not in either team’s odds of making the playoffs, but in where they might meet should they play each other again.

It’s a conversation worth having, even though nothing is set in stone if either Buffalo or Kansas City emerge victorious this weekend. Last year, the Bills beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead in Week 5 and were 4-1, while KC fell to 2-3 in that contest. Buffalo still finished lower in the standings than Kansas City, and the rest is history. A Bills win or a Chiefs win determines nothing definitively.

That said...

Football Outsiders is one of the longer-running and best-established sources of advanced metrics in the business. Modeling of this sort is obviously not foolproof, but the science and the exact numbers don’t really tell the story here. It’s the swings in odds for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs that caught my eye: a Bills win in Kansas City, per this model, increases their odds of securing the top seed by nearly 40%. That’s a shocking figure for this juncture of the regular season.

Other models tell similar stories. The New York Times and its playoff simulator currently has Buffalo with a 35% chance for securing a playoff bye, with Kansas City just behind at 25%. Flipping the outcome of the Bills-Chiefs game between the teams alone will vary based on how the predictor functions, but my own experimentation saw a Bills win up their bye-week odds to 51%, with a loss dropping them to 20%.

FiveThirtyEight also does similar modeling, and while their forecasts can’t be adjusted for single-game outcomes, it’s easy to imagine that the current odds—Buffalo has a 41% chance at a first-round bye, with Kansas City nipping at their heels at 39%—will shift similarly based on the victor on Sunday.

A rematch of arguably the best NFL playoff game of all time, featuring two clearly excellent teams and the two best quarterbacks in the league, doesn’t need much more preamble to max out the hype machine. But if you, Bills Mafia, were feeling any particular urgency about seeing Buffalo emerge victorious on Sunday—knowing what sorts of percentage-swings we’d see regarding home playoff games should only add to your game-day anxiety.