This season’s conference championship matchup isn’t just close, it’s historically been, at least from a market perspective. The teams in both games are so evenly matched that the AFC and NFC championship game point spreads are each less than field goals.
The Eagles (+230), Bengals (+240), Chiefs (+280) and 49ers (+320) have Super Bowl winning odds for the first time in recorded NFL history with glimmers of sunshine between them. does not leave I’m betting that all four teams in the conference championship were this close. By comparison, last year’s Final 4 odds ranged from +125 to +900 heading into the championship weekend.
AFC Championship predictions remained relatively the same due to Patrick Mahomes’ ankle sprain in last week’s Divisional Round victory over the Jaguars. Fear that Mahomes may not be able to play on Sunday, or that he will be so hobbled by a sprain that he can’t play effectively, has sent Kansas City’s stocks plummeting: The team won’t be ready for the Super Bowl. Entered the playoffs as a favorite and dropped to third choice…after an injury.
But probability and chance are not the same thing. Kansas City were +125 favorites last year, but the Bengals were a +900 longshot, sending a healthy Mahomes packing. Cincinnati has won its last three meetings, and he has only lost once to his team, Kansas City, led by Mahomes.
Can Mahomes turn the tables on the Bengals while still injured? Not impossible. Will his conference championship this weekend be boring?
Last week’s record: 3-1
Lifetime record: 141-130-10
NFC championship game
San Francisco 49ers of the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, 3pm Fox
Lines: Eagles -2.5 | Total: 46
Jalen Hurts appeared to answer questions about the health of his sprained throwing shoulder when he completed a 40-yard pass in his second play against the Giants early in last week’s divisional round victory. The Eagles quickly took a four-point lead and Hearts didn’t have to do much to clinch the win. He finished with 154 passing yards, the second lowest total of the season.
That probably won’t work against the 49ers, who have the best linebacking trio in the NFL in Aziz Al Shire, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. It’s tough enough to stop you from going backwards on the track. Coupled with a solid defensive line featuring Nick Bosa, the defensive player of the year candidate, San Francisco has held opponents this season with his league-lowest 3.4 yards per rush attempt, putting him in the Cowboys’ top three offenses last week. I put the clamp on. They’ll need another tight game against the Eagles, who are the NFL’s second-best-rated offense and have destabilized their defense by choosing wisely between passing and running games. I’ve kept
Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy is on a seven-game winning streak as a starter for the 49ers as his inexperience continues to bring the team down. In the divisional round against the Cowboys, Purdy finally looked shaky and held no touchdowns for the first time. He was still able to pull off the win with an astounding defense.
Against the Eagles, working on the streets becomes even more difficult. Philadelphia finished the season two sacks behind his NFL record (72) set by the Bears in the 1984 season, and last week against the Giants he had five sacks. Purdy has a successful offense in his short and intermediate passes (better off the ball quickly out of his hand) and a hybrid of his skills and teammates’ “blocking with everyone” in which players in his position demonstrate physicality. This mentality will help you.
The Eagles won over 90% of the bet on the game, but every time this point spread hit 3 on sportsbooks around the world, the 49ers got the money and the spread went back to 2.5. Even though it will most likely be a tight game, this is a tight number. All season, we’ve leaned underdogs in games that felt so close, and we’re sticking with that strategy this week. Pick: 49ers +2.5
AFC Championship Game
Kansas City’s Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, 6:30 p.m. CBS
Lines: Kansas City +1 | Total: 47
Patrick Mahomes is expected to play over a sprained ankle this week, but the injury makes Kansas City home underdogs for the second time this season. In each of them, I’ve been making adjustments in the second half to hold off the quarterback. If Mahomes is to reverse his losing streak against Cincinnati, he will need to rely on playmakers to keep the offense moving. This is especially true given the forecast for freezing temperatures and snow that could impede big gambling.
Mahomes has relied on Jerrick McKinnon to run back as a passing option this season. McKinnon averaged a team-best 9.7 yards after a catch per receive (typically Travis Kelce’s annual honor).McKinnon has fewer targets as a quarterback hobbled against the Jaguars last week, and that trend is likely to continue if Kansas City needs him as a blocker. Remains an option, but when these teams met in Week 13, the Bengals’ defense held Kelce to four receptions and 56 yards, forced by linebacker Jermaine Pratt. Game-changing Kelth fumble In the fourth quarter Cincinnati was able to pull off a win.
The Bengals were on track to make it to the Super Bowl last year, thanks to Joe Burrow taking fewer sacks than last season (41-51 in the regular season). The Kansas City defensive his line should create more pressure than Buffalo did last week without Von his Miller. But the Bengals’ late-season win streak coincided with a reconstructed run in his game, and Joe Mixon’s big day last week (he had 20 carries for 105 yards) was a big reason Buffalo couldn’t key in Burrow. was.
The Bengals come into the game with a 13-5 record against the spread, but had a mixed picture on the road. Including the bye week, No. 1 seed Kansas City will spend three straight weeks at home. Last week, we noted that Kansas City struggled to cover as it faced too large a points spread at home inflated by an enthusiastic crowd.
The Bengals are very good at covering spreads because they are not well respected in the market. This time, as the road favorite, he’s winning 73% of the money. They’re finally getting the respect they deserve, but is it too late? It really all comes down to that ankle. Pick: Kansas City +1
How betting lines work
A quick primer for those unfamiliar with the betting line: Favorites are listed next to a negative number representing the number of points they must win to cover the spread. For example, Buccaneers -2.5 means that Tampa Bay must beat the Seahawks by at least 3 points before the supporters can win the bet. Gamblers can also bet on the total score. This indicates whether the team’s total score in the game is above or below a preselected number of points.
Betting market data comes from Action Network’s public betting data and lines come from Unabated’s real-time odds tracker.