Andrews: Inside the NFL betting odds for the Conference Championship Games

January 29, 2022 08:55 AM
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A lot to talk about this week even though there are only two NFL games on the board. They are the two games that will determine who plays in the Super Bowl! Both have been drawing plenty of betting interest since matchups were determined last Sunday. 

Before going over each game, let’s update odds to win the Super Bowl. Here at the South Point, we have “Yes/No” options for each team. You can take plus odds on any team to win out. You can lay minus odds that they WON’T lift the Lombardi Trophy. 

Odds to win Super Bowl

Kansas City: + 130 (no is -160)

LA Rams: + 200 (no is -250)

San Francisco: + 350 (no is -500)

Cincinnati: + 800 (no is -1500)

Examples: you’d bet $100 to win $130 with Kansas City (or anything in that ratio). You have to risk $160 to win $100 that the Chiefs WON’T win the Super Bowl (or anything in that ratio). 

As we discussed in recent weeks, we do have exposure to the 49ers going the distance. They’ve been a popular choice at our store. Though, I have been able to cut that risk in half with what I can only call “very skilled bookmaking.” (Ha!). Support has grown for other teams at prices we’ve been offering in a way that’s helped reduce our exposure to SF. 

Other Super Bowl notes: we started offering Super Bowl “exactas” back on January 13. Our most common bet so far is “Kansas City defeats San Francisco.” I opened that at 60/1 given SF’s tough pathway, and KC’s late-season sluggishness. Price is all the way down to 3/1 right now. 

I’ve also posted bettable point spreads for all four possible big game matchups. Bettors will be refunded on the three matchups that don’t happen. 

*Kansas City opened -1.5. over Los Angeles. Sharp money took that straight to -2.5.

*Kansas City opened -3 over San Francisco. No movement. 

*Los Angeles opened -3 over Cincinnati. Sharp money took that straight to -4.

*San Francisco opened -1.5 over Cincinnati. Sharp money took that to -2.5. 

Note that the Rams would be playing at “home” in SoFi Stadium. But, markets aren’t giving them any home field value because seating would be evenly distributed and the AFC entry would have two weeks preparation time. 

Let’s get to the games. Here’s how sharps have been betting the AFC and NFC championship showdowns:

Sunday, Jan. 30

Bengals at Chiefs (-7.5, 54)

CBS, 3 p.m. ET

I opened Kansas City -7. Recreational bettors love betting favorites, particularly those with great offenses. Sharps were staying on the sidelines early. I moved to KC -7.5 early Friday morning. At first, there were only small nibbles from sharps with the hook. Then, I took a 100K bet on the Bengals + 7.5 just after 10:30 a.m. my time. That was a Doberman swallowing a porterhouse by comparison. I immediately moved back to KC -7. 

That monster bet was my first sharp indicator for the point spread. Wiseguys weren’t betting KC at -7, but did have interest on Cincinnati + 7.5. That’s not the whole picture, though. I did take a lot of sharp 6-point teaser bets that included Kansas City at -1 or -1.5. Wiseguys preferring the Chiefs were investing in teasers with their preferred side in the late game. 

It will likely boil down to this: sharps will like Kansas City minus less than three in teasers, or Cincinnati + 7.5 or more on the point spread. 

The public loves Kansas City -7, Kansas City in teasers, and Kansas City to win straight up in moneyline parlays. My opening moneyline of -300 climbed the ladder to -320, -330, -340 and -350. I have been getting little trickles on Cincy along the way in the mid-to-high + 200’s. But, the Chiefs are so popular they’ve been flooding over into multi-sport bets. All week, recreational bettors have been linking KC in moneyline parlays to favorites in college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and even the Australian open tennis tournament. 

Kansas City’s played two postseason shootouts already. You won’t be surprised to hear that Overs drew a lot of early interest against the total. I opened 51.5 and sharps bet me Over. I went straight to 53, but sharps and the public kept betting Over, so I went to 53.5, 54 and 54.5. Finally at 54.5, I took a very large bet Under. I’m back to 54 right now. It doesn’t look like weather will be an issue. The public will keep betting Over. I wouldn’t be surprised if we closed at 54.5. 

I’ll discuss a lot of player props in my Super Bowl preview two weeks from now. This week, I’ll just mention a few that have been drawing interest. 

My opening total for Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow’s passing yardage was 287.5. Sharps bet me Over, so I went to 290.5. More Over money drove me to 295.5. Then I took a big Under bet, bringing me back to 291.5. It can take a while to find an equilibrium with player props. I move the numbers aggressively until the dust settles. 

My opening total for Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ rushing total was 29.5. That was bet up to 32.5. 

49ers at Rams (-3.5, 46)

FOX, 6:30 p.m. ET

Last week, you’ll recall I had to sweat “Tampa Bay by 3” in the divisional round match up with the Rams. Everyone had either bet Bucs -2.5 or Rams + 3. If Tom Brady’s bunch had won by exactly a field goal, Bucs bettors would have won, Rams bettors would have pushed (full refund). Disaster for sportsbooks!

From that perspective, Rams/Bucs got MUCH more interesting in the final minutes than it needed to. Luckily for me (and the house), we dodged the danger. For a week.

A very similar scenario is in play this Sunday, though the Rams are favored at slightly higher boundaries. I was hopping back and forth early in the week between my opener of Rams -3.5 and Rams -3. Niners bettors loved the hook. Rams fans laid the field goal. Las Vegas has strong local betting constituencies for both teams. Sharps were evenly divided and betting aggressively. Huge handle. I’ll have to dodge another three. 

I’m currently at Rams -3.5. I’ve been hearing a lot of pundits and 49ers fans wondering why the spread is that high. San Francisco won the two regular season meetings. The Rams supposedly don’t have much if any home field advantage at SoFi. Why isn’t this line closer to pick-em? 

To me, it’s obvious that SF quarterback Jimmy Garappolo’s shoulder injury looms very large. He has not been effective since getting hurt in the first half vs. Dallas. You may remember that the Niners drove the field for a touchdown in their first series of that game. Since then, their ONLY offensive TD came on a short one-play 26-yard drive. You and 40 million others watched Dak Prescott of Dallas throw an INT deep in his own territory. Deebo Samuel ran to paydirt the next play. That’s seven straight quarters of limited offense.

Also, I think people are forgetting how good this Rams team is in terms of pure power ratings. Yes, they lost twice to the Niners. They’re 14-3 in their other games! And, 62.5 percent against the spread at SoFi. The franchise has stockpiled talent to make a championship run right now. 

I can see granting SF some personnel and tactical edges based on its regular season wins. Do those still apply if Garoppolo is well below 100 percent health? How you answer that question is how you bet the game. How sharps are betting this game suggest the “right” spread is about Rams -3.25 rather than -1 or -2. 

Interest is about as split on the moneyline as it is against the spread, though, I did take a very big bet on the Rams. The same sharp that bet $100K on the Bengals + 7.5 in the AFC laid $165K to win 100K on the Rams to beat SF (at -165, obviously). After taking that bet, I lifted the line to Rams -180/Niners + 160. Since the move, I’ve been taking a lot of bets on SF + 160.

With moneyline parlays, everyone’s using the Chiefs from the early game. Niners fans are parlaying SF and KC, Rams fans are parlaying LA and KC. Teaser play is relatively split as well. Though, the Rams are more commonly used in seven-point teasers rather than six-pointers because that pushes the number all the way from -3.5. to + 3.5. 

With the total, I’ve taken very few Over bets. Sharps bet Under my opener of 47, then reloaded at 46.5. I was still taking Under bets at 46 and I’m currently at 45.5. The public usually bets Overs in big TV games, but isn’t doing that yet here. Both teams have good defenses. To me, this also reflects on Garoppolo’s shoulder. Sharps who like SF to cover expect the Niners to run the ball and run clock. Sharps who like LA don’t think SF’s passing game can rally from behind. 

I looked at QB props in the first game. My current passing yardage totals for this game are Matthew Stafford 282.5, Garoppolo 228.5. A big move of note on possession receiver George Kittle of SF. I opened his reception total at 4.5 (Over -115). That’s been bet up to 5.5 (-110). 

All four games last week were thrillers that went right down to the wire. The first three road dogs won outright on game-ending field goals. Then, Kansas City kicked a last-second FG to force overtime before beating Buffalo. This week may not live up to THAT. But, it will definitely be an extremely busy weekend for sportsbooks across the nation. Best of luck with your bets!

Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.

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