When the Buffalo Bills faced the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round, many people thought it was the game that would decide the NFL champion.
That didn’t turn out to be true, but maybe it should have? Let’s indulge in a silly game of hypotheticals.
The Chiefs wound up playing a lousy second half in the AFC Championship to lose to the Cincinnati Bengals, who are now 4-point underdogs at many sportsbooks (including Caesars) and 4.5-point underdogs elsewhere (like BetMGM).
But what if the Bills hadn’t allowed Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to cover 44 yards in 10 seconds to score the tying field goal in that epic divisional-round game? And what if they had followed that with a win over the Bengals?
Just for fun, we reached out to Jay Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate SuperBook, to see where he would have pegged this Super Bowl had the Bills advanced to it for the first time in 30 years.
In order for this exercise to work, we have to assume good health for the Bills and, as Kornegay points out, “It really depends how they looked in the championship game.” But he was game enough to offer a hypothetical line: Bills -1.5.
It makes sense, even if it only serves as more pain for Bills fans this offseason. To put it another way, the Chiefs did the Bengals and Rams a huge favor. Had the Bills hung on at K.C., it would have been their sixth straight victory. They were rolling.
Unlike the Bengals, who have a middle-of-the-pack defense, the Bills had the best defense in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
The Bills protected Josh Allen better than the Bengals protect Joe Burrow, who was sacked nine times at Tennessee. Kornegay offered a hypothetical over/under total of 54 for the Super Bowl had the Bills advanced, appreciably higher than the current number of 48.5 across the board.
Not only might the Bills have been favored, it might have been a faster-paced, higher-scoring game to entertain fans. Talk about your bad beats.
We’ve promoted Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator.
Congratulations, Ken! 👏 #BillsMafia
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) February 1, 2022
Nets are slipping, but still favored some places
As for New York teams that are actually playing, when last we checked in on the Nets’ odds to win the NBA title, things were looking a bit more chipper in the vicinity of the Barclays Center. Kyrie Irving had just been cleared to play in road games despite his unvaccinated status and the Nets were cementing themselves as the heavy chalk to win it all, down to +245 at DraftKings.
And now? James Harden has a sore hamstring, still is dealing with speculation he might be traded by Thursday, and the depleted Nets have lost nine straight, including Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Celtics in Brooklyn. Kevin Durant (sprained MCL) and LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained ankle) are among the injured Nets joining Harden on the bench.
Interestingly, bookmakers haven’t entirely jumped ship despite the high seas. Though more people seem to be buying into the Phoenix Suns, the team with the best record in the league, the Nets remain solid favorites at +320 at DraftKings. The Suns are +400, followed by the Warriors (+450), Bucks (+700), and Heat (+1300).
Bookmakers are all over the map when it comes to where this NBA season is headed, which makes it a good time to shop for the best line. While DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are among a few books that still have the Nets as favorites, others have far different stances. The SuperBook at Westgate is on the extreme, with the Nets at +650 behind the Warriors (+400) and Suns (+450).
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 9, 2022
If you think the Nets are going to get healthy and go on a run, this might be a good buy-low opportunity.
The MVP race is passing Durant by
A month ago, the books had Steph Curry as the favorite to win the MVP (at +120 at DraftKings), followed by Durant (+240). Big men have taken over the race since then. Joel Embiid (+200 at DraftKings), Nikola Jokic (+300), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+330) have all passed both Curry (+500) and Durant.
Durant, who has been inactive for nearly a month, has practically fallen off the map. The SuperBook again offers the best price (+6000) if you’re thinking he might somehow pull it off.
Checking in on the Ivy League
If you live in New York, you’ll have to travel out of state to bet on this one, given the state’s ban on betting on in-state college teams. Still, like everybody else in the country, you’re probably wondering if Columbia (4-16) can snap its six-game losing streak when traveling upstate to Cornell (12-7) Wednesday evening.
The Lions, who are 14-point underdogs (at DraftKings), own a 1-4 record against the spread (ATS) their past five games. Meanwhile, Cornell, which has hit some turbulence lately, is 6-1 ATS in its last seven home games.
Cornell is the much better offensive team, having hit or eclipsed 74 points in three of its last four games. Columbia has scored 66 points or fewer in its last three. Given the latter’s scoring woes, maybe the under is the play here, with the points total seeming surprisingly high at 158 (at DraftKings).
Photo: Jamie Germano/USA TODAY