The NFL’s conference championship game kickoff this Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl LVII on the line. The big news this week has been the status of Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs, the top seed in the AFC, will host Cincinnati in a rematch of last year’s conference championship. Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain in the Chiefs’ win over Jacksonville last week.
Mahomes’ ankle has contributed to a volatile betting market which has seen the Chiefs move from favorite to home underdog. The San Francisco 49ers, winners of ten straight, will travel to Philadelphia where QB Jalen Hurts is back in business after an injury of his own. These are just a few of the things you should know before betting the AFC and NFC championship games.
Super Bowl Futures Market
The Super Bowl futures market saw a first. For the first time ever, each of the remaining four teams has odds of winning between +200 and +350. Before the championship weekend, conference finalists had never been this equally matched.
The closest comparison is 2015 when Carolina and New England both had odds of +200. Arizona was listed at +300, and the Denver Broncos were given odds of +400 to win the Lombardi Trophy. Fans that bet on the Broncos were happy after Denver’s 24-10 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl 50.
Another first came in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last week. For the first time in the Wild Card era, all four Divisional Round playoff games went Under the total. That followed the total being exceeded in five out of the six games in the Wild Card round. The results from last week are having an impact on this weekend’s championship games.
The Bengals-Chiefs’ total, which closed at 54.5 last season, has already dropped to 47 or 47.5, depending on which sportsbook you choose. Some of that is brought on by Mahomes’ ankle. Last year, both conference championship games went Under the total.
Speaking of Mahomes, he does pretty well at Arrowhead Stadium. He really does well late in a season. In his career, the Chiefs QB is 33-3 straight up in all home games from November on. Two of the losses, however, came against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.
In home playoff games, Mahomes is 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS. In those ten games, he has thrown 28 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Mahomes has also excelled in revenge games. When playing a team twice in a given season, Mahomes is 5-2 in the second game. One of the losses came to Burrow last year.
Burrow has guided Cincinnati to a 14-4 SU record, but the Bengals’ 13-5 ATS record is even more amazing. Only the Giants (14-5, 73.7%) have a higher cover percentage than the Bengals (72.2%) this season. Remember, before the Damar Hamlin incident led to the game’s cancellation, Cincy had a 7-3 lead over Buffalo in the first quarter.
Burrow’s propensity for rising to the occasion against elite teams makes him even cooler. Burrow has a 19-8 ATS record in his NFL career versus squads with a.500 record or better. He is now the league’s most profitable quarterback in this situation.
You might recall that the NFC title game from the previous season finished under the total. The Rams won 20-17 over the 49ers. But what’s amazing is how much scoring has occurred in the NFC title game since 2002.
The previous seven NFC title games averaged 55.3 points per game. Only one of those games had a total that was lower than 49 (45 in 2017). The Over is 14-5-2 in the NFC championship since 2002. Keep in mind that Philadelphia and San Francisco currently rank third and fifth, respectively, in the NFL in terms of scoring.
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