On Sunday, January 24th, the NFL Conference Championship Round gets underway to determine which two teams will play in Super Bowl 55.
The first game will be the NFC Championship as the Green Bay Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a rematch from the regular season. Can Tom Brady lead the Bucs into Lambeau Field and upset the favored Aaron Rodgers led Packers?
The second game will be the AFC Championship, which is also a rematch from the regular season, as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills. Can Patrick Mahomes lead his Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year or will Josh Allen and the Bills continue their magical run?
NFL betting sites have released numerous prop bets for these two matchups. This Conference Championship betting preview will focus on the various prop bets for each championship game and not the actual winners.
Let’s huddle up to examine these odds via BetOnline and make some championship winning predictions.
It should come as no surprise that online betting sites have listed an Over/Under this high considering these are four of the top scoring teams from the regular season.
The Green Bay Packers led the league in the regular season with a scoring average of 31.8ppg. The Bills were right behind them with 31.3ppg. The Buccaneers came in 3rd with a 30.8ppg average and the Chiefs were 6th at 29.6ppg.
All four teams pretty much averaged 30 points per game. Yet, sports betting sites are posting the Over/Under at 35.5 points this weekend.
I feel that’s a little bit high.
In the Wild Card Round, the Browns and the Steelers both went Over 35 points in their shocking shootout where Cleveland won 48 to 37. That was the two highest scores for any Playoff team this postseason.
Yet, of the four remaining teams, none of them crossed 35 points.
Tampa Bay scored 31 and the Bills scored 27 points in the Wild Card Round. The Chiefs and the Packers had a bye.
In the Divisional Round, the Bills scored 17, the Bucs scored 30, the Chiefs scored 22 and the Packers scored 32. Once again, all four teams came in below the 35 point mark. Two of the teams came in well below their season averages.
The Over/Under listed for the Pack vs Bucs game is 51. The O/U for the Chiefs vs Bills game is set at 54. Neither totals indicate that one team will score 35 or more points.
Of these four remaining teams, the Bills allow the highest amount of points at 23.4ppg. The Bucs allow the lowest at 22.2ppg. The Chiefs allow 22.6ppg and the Packers allow 23.1ppg.
One more betting nugget to consider, the Under went 3-1 in the Divisional Round and is 5-4-1 in the Playoffs. That favors lower scoring games. Plus, the weather could also be a factor in both matchups.
At +110 odds, Under 35.5 points offers great value considering the matchups, external factors, stats, and latest betting trends.
The Chiefs led the NFL during the regular season at 415.8 total ypg. The Bills were second at 396.4ypg, while the Packers were 5th at 389ypg and the Buccaneers were 7th at 384.1ypg.
Defensively, the Bucs were 6th in fewest total yards allowed at 327.1ypg and the Packers were 9th at 334ypg. The Bills were 14th at 352.5ypg and the Chiefs were 16th at 358.3ypg.
In their Divisional Round matchup, the Chiefs allowed 308 yards to Cleveland. The Bills are a more explosive offense than the Browns, so it’s not a far stretch to think that the Bills should come close to their season average.
The Kansas City Chiefs put up 438 total yards and did that with Mahomes missing a portion of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter. Once again, it’s not a far stretch to think that the Chiefs could hit their season total yard average this weekend.
If that holds true for the Bills and Chiefs then they could exceed 800 total yards whereas the Bucs vs Packers should be close to 700 total yards especially because the weather is expected to be a factor.
For this prop bet, go with the AFC Championship game to have the most total yards. You have two of the best offenses going up against middle of the pack defenses. In the NFC, you have two better defenses going up against two explosive offenses with the weather being a factor.
Despite what the odds say, this is a rather tricky prop bet. In games where teams are expected to score at least eight total touchdowns each, it would seem like there’s a possibility for one player to snag two TD receptions.
Keep in mind, this is just receiving touchdowns, so it limits us to each team’s top receiving threats:
Let’s take a look at each player to see if there’s a chance that they can score two receiving TDs:
Adams led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 18. In five different games, Adams had two or more touchdowns: Vikings twice, Texans, Eagles, and Titans.
Against the Rams league leading defense, Adams had one TD. Of all the receivers playing in the Conference Championships, Adams has the best chance at catching two TDs.
Evans finished the regular season with 13 TD catches which was 4th best. He scored two or more TDs in three games during the season: Broncos, Chiefs and Lions.
In two Playoff games, Evans has just one TD. However, he is Brady’s top red zone target due to his size.
Godwin only had seven TDs this season and that was largely due to his nagging injuries, which made it take longer to click with Brady. He did have one game in the season with two TDs as that came against the Falcons in the regular season finale.
In two Playoff games, Godwin has one TD catch. However, he could end up benefitting from the Packers double teaming Evans in the red zone.
Hill is the most dynamic receiver in the NFL. He finished 2nd in the league behind Adams with 15 TDs. Hill snagged two or more TDs in three regular season games: Jets, Panthers and Bucs.
In his only Playoff game so far, Hill was held scoreless against the Browns. I wouldn’t expect that to happen again in the AFC Championship.
Travis Kelce proved that he was the best TE in the league as he finished 5th in receptions (105), 2nd in yards (1,416), and 5th in TDs with 11.
He benefits greatly from Hill taking the top off a defense. Yet, Kelce only had one game during the regular season where he scored 2 or more TDs. That just so happened to be against the Bills.
If Buffalo plays a zone to take away the deep pass then Kelce could have another big game.
In his first season with the Bills, Stefon Diggs had a monster year. He led the league in receptions with 127 catches and yards with 1,535. However, he only had 8 TDs. Diggs had one regular season game with 2 or more TDs. That came when he scored 3 TDs on MNF against the Patriots.
Diggs has scored one TD in each of his two Playoff games so far. As the #1 target for the Bills, you can pencil in Diggs for at least one TD catch in the AFC title game.
At first glance, I was all aboard the No option. But, after examining the players that have legitimate chances of scoring two or more TD catches, in what should be a high scoring title games, I like the value with the Yes option at +125 odds.
The safe play is on the No, but I like the value with the Yes and feel it’s worth a flier.
As we mentioned above, Tyreek Hill had 15 receiving touchdowns on the season. He scored in 12 of the 16 regular season games. However, one of the games he didn’t score in was against Buffalo.
Furthermore, he’s gone his last two games without scoring as the Browns (in the Playoffs) and the Falcons (in Week 16) took away the deep ball.
The only time he was held scoreless in two straight games during the regular season was against the Raiders and the Bills as both defenses took away Kansas City’s deep ball passing attack.
I expect the Bills to focus on eliminating deep throws and playing disciplined football in the running game which includes end arounds or screen passes to Hill.
This prop bet doesn’t have any value for the No option, but I don’t see Hill scoring against Buffalo and I definitely don’t see Hill risking an injury by doing a backflip even if he does score.
Much was made about the Buffalo Bills calling only one designed run in the first half of their Divisional Round matchup against the Ravens. Yes, it’s uncommon in today’s game of football to not run the ball more, but the matchup dictated that game plan.
The Ravens had one of the best run defenses in the league especially down the final stretch of the regular season. They also shut down the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry during the Wild Card Round. So, the Bills didn’t feel that it was a smart plan to run against the Ravens defense.
With that said, the Chiefs are not like the Ravens when it comes to stuffing the run. Where the Ravens allowed 108 rushing ypg, the Chiefs allow 122.1 rushing ypg.
Furthermore, the Chiefs gave up 112 rushing yards to the Browns in the Divisional Round. That was on just 22 carries. That breaks down to a 5.1 ypc average for Cleveland.
The Bills will look at Cleveland’s success on the ground and know that they have a shot at finding yardage rushing the ball. Buffalo isn’t incapable of running the ball, they just choose not to do it so much since they have such a prolific passing offense.
The Bills averaged 107.7 rushing yards per game during the regular season. I expect Buffalo to test the ground game on their first drive as the Chiefs will most likely apply a soft zone coverage to take away the vertical passing attack. That will open up more holes to run the ball.
Go with the Under 3½ Plays for this prop bet as I see Buffalo trying to run the ball within the first two plays.
Now that we have established that the Bills will run early and often, it’s time to examine who will be the leading rusher against the Chiefs on Sunday.
The following is a breakdown of the Bills leading rushers during the regular season:
In the Playoffs, Josh Allen led the Bills in rushing against the Colts, but it was Singletary who led the Bills against the Ravens.
Zack Moss will not play this weekend as he’s out indefinitely due to an ankle injury that required surgery. Antonio Williams might not even suit up as he was their practice squad running back for most of the season.
TJ Yeldon will be the primary backup this weekend, but he only had 10 rushes for 70 yards during the regular season. 52 of those yards came in a blowout loss to the Titans.
So, this wager will come down to Josh Allen and Devin Singletary. For the Bills to beat the Chiefs, they will need to have success on the ground especially to make their play action passing game even more dangerous.
This means that Buffalo will need Devin Singletary to have success running the ball. Singletary averaged 4.4ypg during the regular season, but often rotated with Zack Moss. Now that Moss is out, Singletary is expected to get the bulk of the runs.
I don’t like the value with the No option, but it is the smart play here. The Yes option would be more appealing if its odds were a bit higher.
From the Buffalo Bills run game we go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ground attack where we examine which of the Bucs’ two running backs will have the most rushing yards in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
Let’s start with the regular season numbers first:
Ronald Jones finished the season with 978 rushing yards on 192 carries. He was 12th in the league in yardage and 8th in the league with a 5.1 yards per carry average.
Leonard Fournette tallied 367 yards and a 3.8 yards per carry average during the regular season. He was often used as the backup to Jones and only in passing downs. The times where he led the Bucs in rushing were when Jones missed the game or Tampa Bay was getting blown out.
Based on the regular season, you would think that Jones is the no brainer for this prop bet. However, the Playoffs have told a different story than how the regular season played out.
Ronald Jones was suffering from an injury which kept him from playing in the Wild Card Round against the Washington Football Team. Leonard Fournette the Bucs with 93 rushing yards and 1 TD on 19 carries.
In the Divisional Round, Leonard Fournette led the Bucs once again in rushing. But, this time he had just 63 yards on 17 carries.
Furthermore, Ronald Jones played in that game against the Saints and finished with 62 yards on 13 carries. Jones had just one less rushing yard and did that on four less carries. His 4.8 yards per carry was significantly better than Fournette at 3.7 yards per carry.
Whether it’s the eye test or the stats, Ronald Jones is the more powerful and explosive runner between the two.
So, now we look at Jones’ health.
As of this writing, Ronald Jones has participated in practices this week. However, if you are looking for any clarification from head coach Bruce Arians on who will be the starter or get more touches then keep looking.
Arians’ latest comments about the running game prior to the NFC title game only further muddied the waters:
“Both of those guys I consider starters, so it’s a matter of just getting guys in there and keeping them fresh. Who has got the hot hand and that whole thing. I thought ‘Ro’ had his confidence back and really hit the holes hard. I thought Leonard [also] played outstanding so yeah, it’s a heck of a one-two punch and having fresh legs out there all the time.”
Now you can see why online betting sites have this prop bet listed with identical odds for both running backs.
With that said, I am leaning towards Ronald Jones to lead the team in rushing. He might not get as many carries as Fournette, but his explosiveness and power will lead to a higher average per carry than Fournette.
If the Bucs have anything close to a 50-50 split like last weekend against the Saints in the Divisional Round matchup, then you have to go with Jones to have more yards.
I am a little bit surprised by this prop bet. It seems like a high mark for any QB to surpass. But, before giving a prediction, let’s see how the four remaining QBs fared during the regular season in regards to passing yardage totals and per game averages:
On the season, Brady finished 3rd in yards (4,633), 2nd in TD passes (40), and 9th in QBR (72.5). He had a stellar season and showed that age is nothing more than a number.
He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the 2nd best passing attack in the NFL at 289.1ypg. However, he didn’t cross the 400 yard passing mark during the regular season. His season high was 399 yards.
In two Playoff games, Brady threw for 199 yards against the Saints and 381 yards against Washington.
Rodgers led the league in TD passes (48), fewest INTs (5) and QBR (84.3). He was 7th in yardage with 4,299 yards. His 2020 regular season will most likely lead to his 3rd NFL MVP award.
Rodgers’ season high was 364 yards in Week 1. He never threw for more than 325 since the opening week.
Against the Rams in the Divisional Round, Rodgers did throw for 296 yards against the league’s best defense. He has a juicy matchup against the Bucs who allow 246.6ypg.
Mahomes finished the regular season with 4,740 yards (2nd), 38 TDs (4th), 6 INTs (5th), and an 82.9 QBR (2nd). It was an MVP caliber season, which is why he will most likely finished 2nd or 3rd in the voting this year.
Mahomes was the only QB to average over 300 passing yards per game as he finished with 303.4ypg. Unlike Rodgers and Brady, Mahomes surpassed the 400 yard mark twice during the season. He had 416 yards against the Jets and 462 yards against the Bucs.
He also had 385 yards against the Ravens and 393 yards against the Dolphins. In his lone Playoff appearance, Mahomes had 255 yards, but was knocked out in the 3rd quarter with a concussion
Mahomes certainly has the potential to throw for over 400 yards any time he steps on the field. In the regular season matchup against Buffalo, Mahomes only threw for 225 yards.
Josh Allen is one of the best stories in the NFL this season with his remarkable improvement. He finished 5th in yardage (4,544), 5th in TD passes (37), and 3rd in QB (81.6). He’s one of the three finalists for the NFL MVP award this year.
On the season, Allen threw for over 400 yards twice just like Mahomes. He tallied 415 yards in his game against the Seahawks and the first Dolphins matchup. Allen also had 375 yards against the 49ers.
In the Playoffs, Allen threw for 324 yards against the Colts and 206 yards against the Ravens.
His lowest season total was 122 yards against the Chiefs in Week 6.
Of the four QBs, only two of them (Allen and Mahomes) surpassed 400 yards. In 64 regular season games and six Playoff games, these quarterbacks threw for over 400 yards just four times. That breaks down to just 5.7% of the time one of these QBs tallied over 400 yards.
The odds are really against any QB going over 400 yards this weekend. Furthermore, the two QBs (Mahomes and Allen) who threw for over 400 yards in the regular season, had their worst performances of the year against each other’s team. They combined for just 347 yards.
This bet is an easy No. In fact, the odds do offer a small value for this option considering the difficulty and likelihood that a QB goes over 400 yards this weekend.
All you need to start winning as a blackjack gambler is your mind. You can use your brain and the…
The 2021 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night figures to be one for the books. It seems like there is…
Betway is one of the largest, oldest, and most popular online betting platforms in the world. Let’s face it, they’re…
The NBA All-Star break has already arrived. While there wasn't initially expected to be an All-Star Game this year, the…
The Kentucky Derby prep race season is hitting one its high points this weekend with a pair of huge races.…
This Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 marks the first of two trips for NASCAR’s Cup Series to Las Vegas this season. This…