It’s official, we have our NFL “final four.” It will be the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game next weekend. As far as this past weekend goes from a gambling perspective, it looked like books were headed for a horrible weekend early on. Both favorites on Saturday covered, but Sunday saw the exact opposite, as both underdogs covered the spread. Heading into championship weekend, favorites are 4-6 in the playoffs.
If you’re an experienced bettor, you know that it’s best to get your bets in early before the lines can experience what could potentially be unfavorable movement. We already have seen some movement since these lines were released shortly after the matchups were established, so let’s take a look at these early odds and lock in our picks.
All NFL odds are via William Hill Sportsbook.
Buccaneers at Packers
Opening line: Packers -3.5Total: O/U 51
Green Bay will host the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2007, which was Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer. The Packers had no problem with the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round, defeating them 32-18. Aaron Rodgers and the offense tore apart the Rams’ top-ranked defense, as they racked up 484 yards of total offense and 28 first downs. Both of those numbers are the most allowed by the Rams in a game all season. Davante Adams caught nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, but it was actually Allen Lazard who was the game’s leading receiver. He caught four passes for 96 yards, including a 58-yard score that put the game on ice. While Green Bay’s defense held Los Angeles to just 244 yards of total offense, the secondary was spotty at times. Josh Reynolds, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson all were successful in finding open space against the Packers’ cornerbacks, which is something to watch moving forward.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t get much production from their wide receivers against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, but they were still able to escape with a 30-20 victory. Brady threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones combined for 125 yards on the ground. It was the defense that ruled the day, however, as the Buccaneers held Drew Brees to just 134 passing yards, picked him off three times and forced four total turnovers. Devin White proved he’s one of the best linebackers in the league, as he recorded a team-high 11 tackles, recovered a fumble and caught an interception, which he returned the other way for 28 yards. Brady was able to avoid going 0-3 against Brees and the Saints this season, and he even further solidified his spot in NFL history. This will be Brady’s ninth conference championship appearance in the past 10 years, and his NFL-record 14th overall in his 21-year NFL career. To put that into perspective, Brady has more conference championship wins than any other quarterback has appearances!
The pick: These two teams met in Week 6, when the Packers were blown out, 38-10, in Tampa. It was Green Bay’s worst loss of the season. What’s interesting is that both the Packers game and Buccaneers game this past weekend tallied exactly 50 points. Give me the Over and I’ll take the Packers to cover 3.5 points as well.
Bills at Chiefs
Opening line: Chiefs -3Total: O/U 54
The last time the Bills and Chiefs met in the postseason, it was in the 1993 AFC Championship Game. The Bills won 30-13 en route to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance. With the Chiefs’ 22-17 win over the Cleveland Browns this Sunday, Kansas City will become the first team since the 2002-04 Philadelphia Eagles to host three straight conference championship games. Andy Reid coached both of these teams! Chad Henne was forced to finish the game after Patrick Mahomes left because of a concussion, and he did pull through with a couple of clutch plays. Still, everyone is hoping Mahomes can accomplish everything he needs to this week in order to suit up for the conference championship game. An interesting stat to be aware of coming into this matchup is that the Chiefs have now gone nine straight games without winning by more than six points. Since Week 9, they are 1-8 against the spread.
For the first time since 1993, the Bills are in the AFC Championship Game. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens in a low-scoring affair, and it was actually the defense that shined. Buffalo held Baltimore to just three points and Taron Johnson’s 101-yard pick-six was what Josh Allen called a “franchise-altering play.” The Bills have now won eight straight games — seven of them by double digits — and own a point differential of +136 during that span. However, Allen and Stefon Diggs will have to put together a huge game if they want to take down this explosive Chiefs team.
The pick: These two teams also met in the regular season in Week 6, as the Chiefs defeated the Bills, 26-17. Mahomes’ injury and how weird it was does give me pause, but if you’re forcing me to pick a side right now, I’ll go ahead and take the Chiefs to cover. I have been publishing a weekly NFL playoff bracket update since the playoffs began, and my Super Bowl pick of Packers-Chiefs has not changed. As for the total, I’m leaning towards the Under.
Published: 2021-01-18 05:45:48
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