Your curated list of wagers for the Conference Championship portion of the NFL Playoffs, from moneylines and player props to overlooked underdogs.
Is there no better Sunday during the calendar year than Championship Sunday? Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly has to be in the conversation.
This year’s edition looks especially poised to be special. Both 1 seeds will host the proceedings, with their opponents likely representing the best challenges to overtake them for a berth in the Super Bowl.
NFL Conference Championship Best Bets Overview
Best Over/Under Bet and Spread Bet of Conference Championship
- Over/Under: 48
- Spread: Bengals +1.5/Chiefs -1.5
Remarkably, the AFC Championship is going through Kansas City for a fifth straight year.
In addition, this is the second straight year that the Bengals will serve as the visiting adversaries. Joe Burrow and his crew won that encounter last January to get to the Super Bowl, and followed that up by beating Patrick Mahomes and Co. in both regular season matchups this season.
Does this automatically mean you should put your money on the Bengals? Nope.
Even if the Bengals pull this one out, those first three meetings were all decided by exactly one field goal. They just as easily could have gone the other way. Plus, the Chiefs were up by a pair of touchdowns in two of them.
Obviously, the difference will be Mahomes’ health and whether he’ll be able to hold up after enduring a scary-looking high-ankle sprain that would have sidelined mere mortals for weeks.
All indications are that the injury won’t phase the front-runner for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. Oh, true, he did have to briefly exit that contest, and while he looked hobbled playing through it upon his return, Mahomes appeared far better during the week in practice. Take a look:
To me, that’s enough evidence to give an all-time great the benefit of the doubt. And so long as he’s remotely close to his norm, KC will remain in good hands.
While the Patrick Price inventor has a rare losing record against this opponent, it’s not because of his performance. In four career assignments dealing with the Bengals, Mahomes has constructed a superb 107.3 passer rating, compiling 1,115 passing yards and 10 touchdowns compared to three INTs.
Furthermore, Kansas City averaged 31 points in those four tilts, above the 29.2 scoring average they’ve registered in games at Arrowhead with Mahomes as the starter. Frigid temperatures could chip away at that mark, but remember, Mahomes is a vet and has thrived in KC winters.
Another item that may help? Cincinnati’s meager pass rush, something that had them anchored toward the bottom of the league in sacks this season. Such a habit — or lack thereof — in getting to the quarterback will benefit Mahomes if his mobility is hampered.
On the other side, Burrow carries his undefeated head-to-head record into the newly minted “Burrow-head” Stadium (even though he’s only played there once).
Like his counterpart, Burrow seems to excel in big games, and that’s certainly been the case against the Chiefs. Not only is he 3-0, but Burrow wields a 121.0 rating opposite this club — 121.0!
Joe Cool’s only turned it over once across those 12-plus quarters, instead garnering sizable chunks of yardage each time he disposes of the football. That’s how he’s averaged more than 300 yards per game through the air — 327.3 yards, to be exact — while connecting on eight touchdowns.
Think the 20-degree temperatures will affect Burrow? That’s fair, but it hasn’t in the past.
Burrow has played in nine games thus far as a professional with temps of 40 degrees or lower. In those cold-weather affairs, he still completed nearly 70% of his throws, crafting a pretty 102.4 passer rating. With nearly 300 yards per game and a 19-6 TD/INT ratio, it’s safe to surmise that nothing phases this man.
As a result, I’m gunning for Cincy to crank out one of its usual scoring bursts. Being down three starters on the offensive line, though, and facing a diverse mix of blitzes from the Chiefs that was on display last week could prevent them from approaching their ceiling. That’ll make it real hard to trade scores with Mahomes.
To ensure we are safe in the event of a 27-20/30-17 final, buy a point on the total.
The Pick (O/U): OVER 47 (-130)
The Pick (Spread): CHIEFS -1.5 (-110)
Co-Best Spread Bet of Conference Championship
- Spread: 49ers +2.5/Eagles -2.5
Is this the most Hollywood sports story to ever play out in real life? It’s a possibility.
Think about it: Brock Purdy. Rookie that was literally the last pick of the Draft. Had no chance of even seeing the field this year (and next year?). I mean, there’s even an official nickname — Mr. Irrelevant — for being the last pick.
Two other, much-more-known quarterbacks — Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance — were garnering all the commotion over their very public battle for the starting gig. So how was Purdy even going to sniff any game action this year?
Yet here he is, just a victory over the Eagles away from pulling off what had to be considered an unfathomable script.
I don’t see the Niners putting the finishing bow on this fairy tale, however. Maybe if San Francisco had another opponent in store but this is a Philadelphia team that legitimately steamrolled through the NFC.
Jalen Hurts played like an MVP after dominating through the air and on the ground. Miles Sanders performed like the No. 1 running back he’s capable of being, and the receiving trio of A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith proved lethal.
There’s no stopping that unit at this stage on the road in front of a hostile Philly crowd, even opposing a stout 49ers D.
What can make this a rout, potentially, will be Philadelphia’s strong defense churning out another nice outing. Let’s remember they were ranked best against the pass this season, limiting QBs to a meager 179.8 yards per game. In addition, the Eagles had a lot more sacks than anyone else in the entire NFL with a whopping 70.
Well, that clearly makes this Purdy’s toughest test to date and with a low spread involved here, I’ll gladly back the conference’s best team in such a wager.
The freshman signal-caller out of Iowa State is also coming off his worst showing — albeit against another respectable defense — of a week ago. Perhaps that should be viewed as a vivid sign of Purdy’s inevitable regression. This storybook run is about to enter its climax.
The Pick: EAGLES -2.5 (-120)
Best Teaser Bet of Conference Championship
Winning a teaser with a full regular season weekly slate is already a task in itself with double-digit games. Trying to secure a victorious one with only two bouts to work with is extremely daring.
See above for extra bet on a point spread.
Best Prop Bet of Conference Championship
- Joe Burrow Over/Under 37.5 Pass Attempts
By far the most focused-on body part of the four remaining quarterbacks will be Mahomes’ right ankle. Well, prop bettors should be just as invested in Joe Burrow’s right arm.
When the Bengals and Chiefs collide, theatrics normally ensue. Burrow and Mahomes are meeting for the fourth time in the pros — all since Dec. 2021 — and the first three dates yielded high-scoring close battles that were each decided by three points.
Cincinnati won each, of course, but no matter the outcome here, we pretty much know what we’re getting.
Despite the colder conditions, a lot of offense from both sides figures to be in the cards. As long as Kansas City is providing its average scoring output — which hovers around 30 points per game — the Bengals will be required to chuck it often through the air.
Burrow topped this 37.5 attempts benchmark in two of those prior three assignments opposite the Chiefs. Even in normal circumstances, he’s throwing often, hence why only four other QBs had more throws this season — and that was while the former first overall draft pick missed a whole game as well.
If the weather concerns you, don’t let it. Burrow logged at least 36 passes in all but two of his nine NFL games that featured temperatures below 40 degrees. Having to keep up with Mahomes only helps to ensure that once again rings true.
The Pick: OVER 37.5 Pass Attempts (-138)
NFL Best Bets Record for the 2022 Season
- Over/Unders: “8-12“
- Spreads: 6-8-2
- Teasers: “7-10-1“
- Props: “12-11“
- Overall Record*: “33-40-3,” -23.21 units
*Each over/under is graded to win 2 units; everything else for 1 unit
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