This article is designed to be an early betting preview for this week’s playoff games. I’ll include my personal power ratings, Super Bowl odds, and mini-game previews with recent trends. I’ll also include my bets and leans for the week at the end of the article.
My Power Ratings are designed to be a starting point for point-spread betting between two teams. They take into account recent performances, long-term injuries, coaching, and strength of schedule. These ratings are intended to help predict performances in the present, but they’re not necessarily predictive for the rest of the season. I will take my Power Ratings into account when I make my weekly against-the-spread picks, but I’ll also consider current injury reports, home-field advantage, weather, and other factors that may be relevant.
Example: My top-rated team, the Eagles (8), would be one-point favorites on a neutral field over my worst-rated remaining playoff team, the Chiefs (7). Using a two-point adjustment for home-field advantage (last year’s HFA average was 1.8 points), the Eagles would be three-point favorites over the Chiefs at home and one-point underdogs against the Chiefs on the road.
Conference Championship Power Ratings
|Rank||Team||Power Rating||2022 Record (ATS)||Ratings Change||Super Bowl Odds|
|1.||Philadelphia Eagles||8||15-3 (9-9)||+.5||+260|
|2.||San Francisco 49ers||8||15-4 (13-6)||-.5||+310|
|3.||Cincinnati Bengals||7.5||14-4 (13-4-1)||+1||+270|
|4.||Kansas City Chiefs||7||15-3 (5-12-1)||-1.5||+260|
Conference Championship Games
(2) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+310 SUPER BOWL ODDS) AT (1) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (+260), SUNDAY, 3 P.M.
The Eagles and 49ers emerged as the NFC’s two best teams by the second half of the season, and they’ll have a showdown in the title game to determine the conference’s best team. Philadelphia improved to 15-1 with Jalen Hurts in the lineup and the Eagles snapped a four-game ATS losing streak in emphatic fashion in their beatdown of the overmatched Giants in the Divisional Round. Hurts opened the game by completing his first seven passes for 89 yards and two TD passes in the first quarter. He added 9/34/1 rushing for the game to account for three touchdowns in the victory, which put any fears about his throwing shoulder to bed. Philadelphia’s running backs combined for 35/234/2 rushing for 6.7 YPC in the victory, which helped their defense to limit the Giants to just 52 plays, 227 yards, and one touchdown. The Eagles held their opponents to the fewest passing YPG (179.8) in the regular season before limiting Daniel Jones to 135 scoreless yards last week. They also sacked Jones five times after easily pacing the NFL with 70 sacks in the regular season. Philadelphia is 8-2 outright and 7-3 ATS at home this season, while San Francisco has played just two true road games since the end of October.
The 49ers are riding a 12-game winning streak with a 10-2 ATS mark in that span heading into their second consecutive NFC Championship Game. San Francisco blew a 10-point lead to the Rams in the fourth quarter last season but they still got the cover with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback — the 49ers have covered five consecutive playoff games over the last two seasons. Brock Purdy is a perfect 7-0 as a starter and he joined Mark Sanchez (2009) and Joe Flacco (2008) as the only rookie QBs to win two playoff starts. The 49ers averaged 34.6 points per game in the first seven games Purdy appeared in before scoring just 19 points in their victory over Dallas. Purdy had a seven-game run with multiple TD passes to open his career snapped in the Divisional Round, and he avoided a turnover in his first two postseason games despite putting a couple of passes in harm’s way. George Kittle bailed his young quarterback out by catching all five of his targets for 95 yards, which was the fifth time in his last six games with 14+ FP. Christian McCaffrey scored San Francisco’s only touchdown against the Cowboys, which was his eighth consecutive game with a score. He ceded snaps to Elijah Mitchell late in the Divisional Round because of a calf issue, which will need to be monitored this week. San Francisco’s defense limited the Cowboys to just one touchdown and 12 points after allowing the fewest PPG (16.3) in the regular season.
(2) CINCINNATI BENGALS (+270) VS. (1) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+260), SUNDAY, 6:30 P.M.
The Chiefs extended their NFL record for hosting Conference Championship games with their fifth consecutive AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium. Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury is the biggest story of Conference Championship week, and it’s the reason why the Bengals opened up as just short underdogs. Mahomes would typically be staring at a multi-week absence for his high-ankle injury, but he’ll try to gut through the issue this week with a berth to the Super Bowl on the line. He played on his bad ankle in the second half of the Divisional Round, completing 22/30 passes overall for 195 yards (6.5 YPA) and two TDs despite moving around on one leg for most of his snaps. He’s likely to see limited practice participation this week to get him as healthy as possible for Sunday. The injury could confine Mahomes much more to the pocket and limit his second-reaction plays, which is trouble against a defense with the best coordinator in the league in Lou Anarumo. Mahomes owns 28 TDs and just three INTs in 10 career home playoff games, which included a touchdown strike to Travis Kelce last week. Kelce finished with a career-high 14 catches against the Jaguars for 98 yards and two touchdowns — Chad Henne hit him for his other score. Isiah Pacheco thrived in his first postseason action with 12/95 rushing, and he could take on a slightly bigger role if HC Andy Reid has to go with a more conservative gameplan.
The Chiefs are the AFC’s worst team against the spread at 5-12-1, which includes a 2-8-1 mark over their last 11 games. Meanwhile, the Bengals are riding a franchise-best 10-game outright winning streak and they’re the AFC’s best team against the spread at 13-4-1. Cincinnati limited the Bills to season-lows in points (10) and touchdowns (1) in the Divisional Round. Joe Burrow and the offense wasn’t too bad either, racking up 30 first downs, 5.8 YPP (412 total yards), and 27 points. Burrow completed his first nine passes and staked the Bengals to a 14-point lead just three drives into the Divisional Round. The Bengals played without three starting offensive linemen with LT Jonah Williams (knee) joining RG Alex Cappa (ankle) and RT La’el Collins (knee, IR) on the sidelines. Cincinnati’s makeshift offensive line held its own against the Bills with Burrow absorbing just two sacks and Joe Mixon rumbling for 20/105/1 rushing. Ja’Marr Chase paced this receiving corps with 5/61/1 receiving and he had an additional 10-yard score taken off the board on a questionable replay reversal. The Chiefs are making consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances for the first time in franchise history after they erased an 18-point deficit to beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime last year.
Cincy has owned Kansas City in this series over the last two seasons with three consecutive one-possession outright victories as underdogs, which includes a 27-24 victory in early December as 2.5-point home underdogs. Both teams averaged 6.5 YPP in Week 13 but the Bengals erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win the game with 10 unanswered points. Burrow is the only quarterback to beat Mahomes on three consecutive tries, and Burrow has a great chance to extend his streak to four against a compromised Mahomes.
Brolley’s Early Bets
Check out all of my Best Bets for the Conference Championship Games.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+1.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Brolley’s Early Leans
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+3) at Philadelphia Eagles — Philly is seeing the early betting action so I’m waiting this out to see if this line moves any higher. This line is a bit inflated based on the results from the Divisional Round — the Eagles should be short home favorites. The 49ers survived the much more difficult matchup against the Cowboys and the Eagles took care of the weakest Divisional Round qualifier in the Giants. I also want more info on Christian McCaffrey’s calf issue, which limited him late against Dallas.