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On the line from Vegas: Bills a trap game for Chiefs? Don't bet on it

By Tim Graham

Las Vegas probably should've posted the Buffalo Bills as bigger underdogs this week even if Thad Lewis was healthy, said handicapper and former oddsmaker Joel Staniszewski.

Once the Bills declared Lewis doubtful for Sunday's game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Ralph Wilson Stadium, laying the points became an even juicier bet.

"It seems a little strange to me that the Bills are only a three-point dog," Staniszewski said. "And that line hasn't really moved all week.

"The betting world doesn't really care if it's Jeff Tuel, Matt Flynn or Thad Lewis. It's a backup, a backup or a backup.

"But as a Bills follower, I'm surprised the line hasn't moved at all. I would expect the public to be betting on the Chiefs, given that they're undefeated, they're dominating people and their defense has been outstanding. If they stop the run, they put whoever the Bills quarterback is in situations they don't really want to be in."

Staniszewski ventured a 3.5- to 4.5-point spread would be more appropriate.

Despite his strong leanings, he won't have action on Sunday's game. He only bets on his hometown Bills to win. Rooting for them to lose and not cover creates too much inner conflict for the St. Joe's and Buffalo State grad.

Staniszewski reasoned the spread is so low is because over their past six meetings the Bills are 5-1 straight up and have covered the past five times.

The Bills also have been remarkably competitive all season. They've been underdogs every game yet are 5-3 against the spread, covering against the New England Patriots and beating the Baltimore Ravens outright. Those kinds of results get noticed.

"The thought is that this is the classic trap game for the Chiefs," Staniszewski said. "They're coming up on a bye week and then have a big game [with the Denver Broncos] the next game."

A few other trends to consider:

  • The Bills are 6-0 against the spread in their past six games after a straight-up loss.
  • The Bills are 4-0 against the spread in the past four games after a loss against the spread.
  • The Bills are 5-0 against the spread over their past five home games.
  • The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread in their past five games after a loss against the spread.
  • The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread over the past five games after allowing less than 90 rushing yards.

"The trends are telling you the Chiefs are due for a less-than-stellar game," Staniszewski said. "And the Bills have been playing more consistently, and the theory of 'next man up' seems to be working for them somewhat even though their actual record doesn't reflect it.

"But, still, it just seems on paper the Bills are an overmatched team."


Jeff Tuel | Matt Flynn | On the line from Vegas | Thad Lewis
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |