Conference Championship Betting Guide

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Conference Championship Betting Guide

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 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 for the week, but I’ll also consider current injury reports, home-field advantage, weather, and other factors that may be relevant. I’m baking in about a 1.5-point adjustment for most home teams. I hope you find these ratings useful and good luck with your wagers!

RankTeamPower Rating2021 Record (ATS)Ratings ChangeSuper Bowl LVI Odds
1.Kansas City Chiefs8.514-5 (10-9)+1+120
2.Los Angeles Rams6.514-5 (10-9)+200
3.San Francisco 49ers5.512-7 (11-8)+450
4.Cincinnati Bengals4.512-7 (12-7)+800

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

(4) CINCINNATI BENGALS (+800 SB ODDS) AT (2) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+120)

  • Spread: Chiefs -7

  • Total: 54.5

  • Time: 3 p.m., Sunday

  • Forecast: 45 degrees, 5-10 mph, 0% chance of rain

The Bengals will play in the franchise’s first AFC Championship in 33 years while the Chiefs are making NFL history by hosting their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game. The Bengals scored the franchise’s first postseason road victory — the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowl runs both came at home — with Evan McPherson’s game-winning 52-yard field goal at the horn to knock off the Titans. Joe Burrow became the first quarterback drafted first overall to reach a Conference Championship Game in his first two seasons, and he did it by becoming the first player in the Super Bowl era to absorb nine sacks in a playoff victory. Burrow has thrown for 300+ yards in five of his last seven games and he’s attempted 34+ passes in six of those contests after hitting that threshold three times in his first 11 games. Rookie Ja’Marr Chase is already knocking on the door to be a first-round fantasy selection next summer with his incredible run since Week 16. He’s posted 109+ receiving yards in four straight full games — he saw a 9% snap share in Week 18 — for a combined 32/616/3 receiving in those contests. The Bengals are riding a six-game ATS winning streak (5-1 outright) since Week 15, and they’ve scored outright wins in their last four games as a road underdog with Burrow at quarterback — he sat out Week 18 in Cleveland.

The Chiefs will look to avoid a hangover this week after playing in one of the NFL’s greatest games. ​​Kansas City left it all out on the field in a frenetic 42-36 overtime victory over the Bills while Cincinnati got an extra day of rest heading into the title game. Patrick Mahomes outdueled Josh Allen in the all-time classic game, leaving last weekend with the most passing yards (378) and the most rushing yards (69) in the Divisional Round. Mahomes also set a franchise playoff record with 33 completions, and the Chiefs set a franchise playoff record with 552 yards against a Bills’ defense that allowed a league-low 272.8 yards per game. Travis Kelce is riding a five-game touchdown streak and he’s posted 13/204/2 receiving through two postseason games. Tyreek Hill also broke out of mini-slump with 11/150/1 receiving after he had fallen below 60 yards in four straight games. Kansas City’s defense will look to get Tyrann Mathieu (concussion) back in the lineup after their secondary allowed an NFL playoff record four touchdown receptions to Gabriel Davis. The Chiefs have won six consecutive home playoff games over the last three seasons, and Kansas City’s only loss in the last 12 games this season came against the Bengals in Week 17 — they’re 8-4 ATS in that span.

The Bengals clinched the AFC North title with their 34-31 victory over the Chiefs as 3.5-point home underdogs in early January. The Chiefs had three different two-touchdown leads when they met in Week 17. Chase was this season’s ultimate league winner in the fantasy finals thanks to his team-record 11/266/3 receiving on 12 targets for 55.6 FP against the Chiefs. Burrow finished with 446/4 passing on just 39 attempts (11.4 YPA) in that matchup. Darrel Williams propelled the Chiefs’ offense in that contest with 17/107/2 scrimmage, and Mahomes (259/2 passing) was busy spreading the ball around with Mecole Hardman (1/53 receiving) the only receiver to have more than 40 receiving yards against the Bengals. The game featured no turnovers and both teams netted 23 first downs and averaged more than seven yards per play. The Bengals have played under the total in three straight games since going over the total by 14 against the Chiefs. The Chiefs have played over the total in seven consecutive games with 28+ points scored in each of those contests. Kansas City’s defense has also been leaky in recent weeks when they haven’t played Pittsburgh’s dreadful offense, allowing 24+ points in their last four non-Steelers games.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

(6) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+450) AT (4) LOS ANGELES RAMS (+200)

  • Spread: Rams -3.5
  • Total: 46.5
  • Time: 6:30 p.m., Sunday
  • Forecast: Indoors

Both the Rams and 49ers will be making their second NFC Championship Game appearances since 2018, but only one team will represent the NFC for the second time in that span — the Rams last did it in 2018 and the 49ers did it in 2019. San Francisco moved ahead of Pittsburgh with their NFL-best 17th Conference Championship Game appearance since the merger. The 49ers are coming off a miserable offensive performance in the Divisional Round, totaling just 212 yards and averaging just 4.1 yards per play — they had -10 yards through four series. They also went 0-for-3 on their red-zone opportunities against the Packers, but they pulled out the victory thanks to their special teams, which included a pivotal touchdown return on a blocked punt with under five minutes left in the game. Robbie Gould drilled the game-winning 45-yard kick as time expired to run his perfect postseason career to 20-for-20 on field-goal attempts. The 49ers are 9-2 outright and ATS in their last 11 games, and they’ve played under the total in six of their last seven games. The lone exception came in their Week 18 matchup against the Rams, in which they needed a last-minute touchdown to force overtime and to go over the total.

Los Angeles is 7-1 outright (6-2 ATS) in its last eight games with the lone loss coming at the hands of the 49ers in the season finale. They’re coming off a dramatic 30-27 victory over the Buccaneers in the Divisional Round, but they made the game more dramatic than it needed to be with four lost fumbles. It was the first time in 50 games that Tom Brady lost when his defense forced four or more turnovers. Cam Akers was responsible for two of the lost fumbles, which put a slight damper on his extraordinary return from his torn Achilles in July. The Rams blew a 27-3 lead in the span of 18 minutes in the second half, but Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp saved the day in the final minute. They burned the Buccaneers for gains of 20 and 44 yards to set up Matt Gay’s game-winning field goal from 30 yards away with no time left. Kupp finished with a season-high 183 receiving yards, which was his 11th game with 100+ receiving yards. Stafford ended with 366/2 passing, which was his eighth game with multiple TD passes in his last nine games. The Rams are optimistic they’ll get LT Andrew Whitworth back this week after he missed last week with an ankle injury.

The 49ers will try for the three-game sweep of the Rams this week. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have recently owned Sean McVay’s Rams with a six-game outright winning streak dating back to the 2019 season. The 49ers also own a four-game ATS winning streak over the last two seasons. San Francisco stunned Los Angeles in a 27-24 overtime victory as 3.5-point road underdogs just three weeks ago. The 49ers erased a 17-point deficit to hand Los Angeles its ​first loss in 46 games with a halftime lead under McVay. The 49ers crushed them on a yards-per-play basis (6.7 to 4.1) and they sacked Stafford five times in that contest. San Francisco fans flooded SoFi Stadium for the season finale, and the Rams were looking to avoid a repeat showing by restricting ticket sales for the NFC Championship Game to credit cards in the Greater Los Angeles region. San Francisco also dominated the Rams 31-10 as 3.5-point home underdogs when these teams met back in mid-November. Jimmy G attempted just 19 passes and the 49ers finished with 44 carries in that game, which resulted in the 49ers nearly doubling the Rams in time of possession (39:03 to 20:57).

BROLLEY’S EARLY BETS

Check out all of my Best Bets for the Conference Championship Games.

CINCINNATI BENGALS (+7.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (OVER 53.5)

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (+3.5) at Los Angeles Rams

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.