NFL Playoffs Betting Tips: How to Bet the Conference Championships
And then there were four…with no Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, or
New Orleans saints among them.
That's not to say the absences of New England and New Orleans from the NFL's conference championships are entirely surprising. After all, they did not even earn first-round byes in the playoffs. But the Saints were actually just a half-yard away from snagging said bye (see: San Francisco vs. Seattle in Week 17) and despite their status as No. 3 seeds, they were still a trendy pick to reach the Super Bowl out of a wide-open NFC. As for the Patriots, well, they are the Patriots. Most people assumed Tom Brady and company would take care of the Titans and perhaps even knock off the Chiefs…again. Alas, both NE and NO are long gone and so is the real shocker: Baltimore.
What's left is a final four of San Francisco, Green Bay, Kansas City, and
Tennessee. And with them comes a whole host of betting opportunities, just
as would be the case with any remaining foursome.
So…how to bet the AFC and NFC championship games?
As discussed in last week's divisional-round preview, we are at the tail end of the 2019-20 NFL campaign, and oddsmakers should have a good grasp of every single team; a stranglehold, in fact. There will always be folks out there who love one team or another and will perceive a line a grossly incorrect, but the truth is these lines should be on point. As such, once again there could be more value in player props. You're surely dialed in on your favorite players that you've been watching for almost 20 weeks; you know what they're capable of and what they aren't capable of. So if you see a prop you like on that player, why not take a shot?
Will Aaron Rodgers throw at least two touchdowns when the Packers visit the Bay Area ? Yes is -116; not bad value if you are high on the baaaaaaaaaad man (cue Stephen A. Smith voice). At least three passing touchdowns pays out a nice +316. Who will have more receptions: Davante Adams (-189) or George Kittle (+129)? Will Tennessee running back Derrick Henry torch the Chiefs for at least 160 rushing yards? If so, that pays out +257. Is Kansas City going to put up points on its first possession of the game? Yes is -106 (no is a slight -122 favorite).
Those are not only fun bets but potentially lucrative, as well. Of course, you don't have to entirely avoid the more traditional spreads. Both game lines (7.5) are just north of a key number: seven. Giving more than touchdown is risky for Kansas City and San Francisco supporters, but teasing those lines below the -7 mark is going to be costly. On the other side of the coin, +7.5 presents a nice opportunity for those who think Green Bay and Tennessee are going to keep things close. If they stay within a touchdown, you're golden.
Can the underdogs do so? Green Bay is 11-6 ATS this season, good for the third-best mark in the NFL. The Packers are 3-1 ATS as road underdogs. San Francisco, meanwhile, has been the fifth-most profitable club at 10-6-1 ATS-but it is a mediocre 4-4-1 ATS as a home favorite. Tennessee is 10-7-1 ATS (4-2 ATS as a road 'dog); Kansas City leads the league with an 11-5-1 ATS mark (4-2-1 ATS as a home fave).
Although the present is what's important, it would also be wise to remember the past. In 49 games since the NFC Championship kicked off in 1970, favorites-generally the home team but not always-are 26-22-1 ATS and 32-17 SU. Only six times has the favorite won and failed to cover the spread at the same time. Dating back to the start of the AFC Championship (also in 1970), favorites are 28-20-1 ATS and 35-14 SU. On seven occasions the favorite has won and failed to cover. In the past 10 years, home teams are 8-2 SU with varying levels of difficulty. Five of the 10 most recent AFC title tilts have featured double-digit margins, and five have been decided by six points or fewer.
Finally, don't forget about monitoring the weather. Dome teams have exited the playoffs, so both games will be played outdoors. Could they be impacted by the elements? San Francisco is expected to be pleasant on Sunday, but the same cannot be said for anyone in Kansas City who dislikes cold weather. It's going to positively frigid, as the high right now is 23 degrees. Winds on Saturday are expected to be 17 MPH, and if that unexpectedly extends into Sunday things could be especially difficult in the passing and kicking game.
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