There hasn’t been a whole lot of line movement for either the AFC or NFC Championship Game, but we have enough context clues to figure out what has gone on thus far. Keep in mind that probably 90 percent or more of the money comes in on game day. With two standalone games like this, sharp bettors continue to have their influence, but the public can also create big decisions for the books and the collective action can be sizable enough to produce line movement.
These are my takes on what we’ve seen so far and what I think will happen as kickoff approaches.
Bengals at Chiefs (-7, 54.5) - The South Point has a strict policy of staying at -110 vig, so they’re the first in the market to be exposed enough on the KC side to move to 7.5. There is a well-respected offshore book that is 7.5, but with -121 on Cincinnati, so those that want to take the dog are being forced to pay a bit of a premium.
Other books are at -7 (-120). You can see the reluctance to move off of the key number of 7, but the books are clearly looking for some Bengals money to come in. We could see more books push out to 7.5, which might entice teaser action on the Chiefs at -1.5. They’re less worried about that than they are the spread on the game, so they’ll move to 7.5 if need be. I think we may see more books get there today or tomorrow morning.
On the total, it looks as though 54.5 and 55 were resistance points where sharper bettors took a look at the under. The volume of bets is still overwhelmingly on the over, but the one-way line movement did hit a stopping point. The books know where that line of demarcation is when an avalanche of public money comes in on the over between now and kickoff.
49ers at Rams (-3.5, 46) - We have seen our first 45.5s on the total, which is one of two notable developments on this line. Even though the volume of bets remains on the under, this looks like one of those sharp vs. public splits on the total. The books have to be happy with where they are. They know where they can go to get under money if they need it and that appears to be 46.5. I’m not sure if the line gets back there, even with the majority of action on the over.
The spread is still 3.5, but we are starting to see books sweeten the Rams side a bit. As the news cycle churns on this game, a lot has been said about the 49ers having won six in a row and both regular season meetings. There are some -3.5s at -105 or even money out there, suggestive to me that a book or two may try -3 and see if the Rams are a buy point for influential bettors at that number. For now, they’ll keep making dog bettors take the hook.
Overall, we may see some modest movement in both games, but I don’t think we’ll see anything earth-shattering.