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Blurred Lines: Comparing NFL Conference Championship Betting Lines

Deep breaths. Nothing says we’re nearing the end of the season like the knowledge that we’re coming up on the last Sunday with multiple games. We’re literally a week away from a weekend with no games. As the immortal American Dream Dusty Rhodes once said, “Hard times, Daddy.”

For those of us that enjoy placing legal, recreational wagers on the outcome of sporting events, we’re running out of time to get that action in, so let’s get right to it. We’ve got the four best teams in the league playing on Championship Sunday; buckle in!

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Divisional Weekend Accountability

Last Week: My picks, 3 – 1; Analytics, 2 – 2

Playoff Picks Overall: My picks, 5 – 5; Analytics, 5 – 5

A 2 – 0 Saturday looks better when there aren’t two more games to lose the rest of the weekend. However, Dallas doing Dallas things got us a winning weekend.

Jacksonville at Kansas City – “I doubt Trevor Lawrence throws four picks in the first, or any quarter, and big lines haven’t been safe bets of late, so I’ll take the Jags.”

Trevor Lawrence did not, in fact, throw four picks, Patrick Mahomes sprained his ankle and turned into Vinny Testaverde, and Doug Pederson did us a favor and kicked the field goal down 10 to set up the onside kick and grab the cover.

New York Giants at Philadelphia – “Last week, the Giants were playing their fourth road game in five weeks. … this week will make five in six.”

Felt strong about that line. The Giants looked like a tired team and got run out of the building like one would be expected to.

Cincinnati at Buffalo – “I hate laying points on the Bills right now, but the Bengals missing most of their O-line scares me too much to take them.”

The one blemish on our record. I overrated the Bengals’ line issues against a Buffalo team without Von Miller. Should have gone with my gut.

Dallas at San Francisco – “Brutal travel, short week, gotta take the ‘Niners.”

All true. Also, see above about Dallas doing the Dallas things I expected to see back in Ye Olde Wild Card Weekend.

NFL Conference Championship Betting Lines

(Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set.)

San Francisco at Philadelphia – Analytic Line: PHI (-2.5), Vegas Line: PHI (-2.5), PL: PHI (-3.5)

This line opened at Philly -2.5, and I said to jump on that number because I expected it to go to -3.5. So, here we are, and it’s still sitting at -2.5. So much for my early bird getting the value worm. So, then, why do I think Philly is an undervalued favorite?

First: travel. San Fran has to travel cross-country and play in the early game. The Niners are 1-3 in games played east of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Brock Purdy’s two road starts have been at Seattle and at Las Vegas. Pro Football Focus ranked the Seahawks and Raiders 22nd and 24th, respectively, in total defense. Philadelphia is 3rd. Football Outsiders has Seattle 21st and Vegas 31st in defensive DVOA, with Philly coming in 6th. By any metric, this is a massive step up in class for the now not-necessarily irrelevant rookie QB.

San Fran has an unquestionably elite defense on the other side of the ball, but boundary receivers can exploit them. DK Metcalf and CeeDee Lamb have had big games against them in the two playoff games, and Davante Adams eviscerated them in Week 17. As a result, AJ Brown and Devonta Smith feel like a nightmare matchup for the ‘Niners secondary.

Pick: Philadelphia (-2.5)

Cincinnati at Kansas City – Analytic Line: KC (-2.5), Vegas Line: KC (-1.5), PL: KC (-2.5)

As opposed to the static NFC line, this game opened at KC -1 and has bounced around as news of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle has filtered out. It’s currently sitting at -1.5. This game comes down to two things for me. One: obviously, Mahomes’ health. He looked severely limited last week, and a gimpy Patrick Mahomes is not championship-caliber Mahomes. This Bengals defense is too good for an exclusively pocketed Mahomes to exploit.

Second is the Cinci offensive line injury issues that I thought would cost them last week. They were able to not only get by but thrive against Buffalo. This week should be a more rigorous test. Chris Jones and Frank Clark can bring individual pressure, and Steve Spagnolo can and will bring pressure from every angle and through every gap. However, a non-meshed line group could struggle to pick up the exotic looks they’ll get.

Ultimately, I think Mahomes will be “good enough” enough to approximate his normal self, and the KC defense will force enough turnovers to break the Chiefs losing streak to the Bengals.

Pick: Kansas City (-1.5)

While our content slows down in the postseason, keep an eye out for our weekly betting and DFS articles here. We’re also working on a new series called How To Fix, where we create a plan to fix some of the teams that missed the playoffs this year. Check out our first few entries here!

You can find all of Joel Wirth’s work at Club Fantasy here!