John Glennon takes a look at the betting data for both NFL Conference Championship Games this Sunday.
NFC Championship Game
Moneyline – 57% of bets have been on the Packers to win
The Lambeau Field home advantage won't be what it normally is with fewer than 10,000 fans expected in the stands, but it's still difficult to think about betting against the Packers in Green Bay. The Packers went 7-1 at home during the regular season, and they've also won four straight home playoff games over the years – and five of their last six. There will be some who put too much stock in the Buccaneers' one-sided win over Green Bay three months ago in Tampa Bay. But the Packers are a far more consistent and well-rounded team than they were back in October. Just look at last week, when Green Bay rolled up 484 yards of offense and 32 points against the Rams' top-ranked defense. A forecasted high of 29 degrees won't make Tampa Bay feel any more at home on the frozen tundra. Sure, Tom Brady has won his share of cold-weather games, but the old man hasn't had to worry about icy conditions this season.
NFC Championship Game: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers Spread Odds
Spread – 51.9% of bets have been on the Packers -3 points
The Packers are 8-1 covering the spread at home this season after last week's two-touchdown victory over a stingy Rams defense. In addition, Green Bay's average margin of victory during its current seven-game winning streak is nearly 15 points. The Packers haven't won by less than seven points during any of those seven contests. I'm just not convinced the Buccaneers bring the same kind of resume to the table. Sure, Tampa Bay has won six straight contests. But the four regular-season wins came against non-playoff teams, and the two postseason victories came against a sub-.500 Washington team and a New Orleans team with an over-the-hill Drew Brees at the helm. This won't necessarily be a blow-out, but I think the Saints win comfortably.
NFC Championship Game: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers Total Points Odds
Total points – 52.3% of bets have been on OVER 51.0 points
It's been pretty difficult to slow either of these teams in recent weeks, as Green Bay has topped 30 points in six of its last seven contests and Tampa Bay has scored at least 30 in five straight games. The Buccaneers' stout run defense may slow Green Bay's Aaron Jones, but that just means more opportunity for likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who's thrown for 10 touchdowns and just one interception in his last three games. The Packers will find a way to get their points. On the other side of the ball, Brady didn't look especially sharp last week against a solid New Orleans defense, and he is likely to find himself under pressure against the Packers, who sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff four times last week. Throw in the potential impact of cold conditions on Tampa Bay, and this feels like a 30-20 game for me – falling just under the line.
|Team||ML Odds||Point Spread|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+160||+3.5 (-114)|
|Green Bay Packers||-175||-3.5 (+100)|
AFC Championship Game
Moneyline – 78% of bets have been on the Chiefs to win
It's hard not to jump on the Chiefs' bandwagon, considering the defending Super Bowl champs are playing at home and appear – as of Thursday night – likely to have quarterback Pat Mahomes in the lineup. But I'm still surprised the money is so lopsided in favor of Kansas City. The Bills don't have the national profile of the Chiefs, but they've won eight straight games – by an average margin of 17 points. And let's remember, too, that the normal advantages of Arrowhead Stadium won't really apply on Sunday. There will be fewer than 17,000 fans in the stands, and the chilly Kansas City temperature (forecast of 43 degrees) will feel like a spring day for the Bills. Strong-armed Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen should have no problem firing ropes in the cold and rain. The Chiefs certainly looked beatable at home last week, as Kansas City's 22-17 win wasn't secured until Andy Reid's bold fourth-down gamble at midfield proved successful in the closing moments.
AFC Championship Game: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Spread Odds
Spread – 80.4% of bets have been on the Chiefs -3 points
The flood of money wagered on the Chiefs here likely has to do with a lower-than-expected spread – due to the mid-week uncertainty regarding Mahomes. But all signs continue to point to him starting on Sunday, as Reid said Thursday that Mahomes took the majority of snaps in practice. Assuming Mahomes has no injury designation when the official report comes out Friday afternoon, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the line increase. I have a feeling this game will be fairly close, so if you're betting on the Chiefs, I'd do so before that line moves. It's worth noting that the Chiefs have recorded their last eight wins by a grand total of 32 points – an average margin of four per contest. Some of those wins have been against tough competition, but some have come against run-of-the-mill opponents – like Carolina, Las Vegas, Denver and Atlanta. The Chiefs have mastered the art of playing just well enough to win, which might make for some anxious times if the line gets a point or two higher.
AFC Championship Game: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs Total Points Odds
Total points – 54% of bets have been on OVER 54.0 points
Expectations for the Chiefs to score a bundle of points have been high all season, which is probably a significant reason Kansas City was only 8-8 covering the over during the regular season. Both of these teams have explosive offenses – they combined to average about 60 points during the regular season – but they haven't been as free-wheeling in the playoffs. The Bills have averaged 22 points in their two postseason wins, and the Chiefs also scored 22 points in beating Cleveland. When these teams met three months ago in Buffalo, neither Mahomes nor Allen had huge afternoons in a 26-17 Kansas City victory. I think both teams' defenses are good enough to keep this from becoming a shoot-out, so a points total similar to that regular-season contest seems reasonable.
|Team||ML Odds||Point Spread|
|Buffalo Bills||+150||+3 (-104)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-161||-3 (-112)|